Malus sylvestris var. domestica
Malus sylvestris is the name of the crabapple = European wild apple (Crab = “wooden” apple)
Malus domestica = cultivated apple
Up to 100 years – a human life, therefore it is planted on the occasion of the birth of a child so it can grow big and old with the apple tree
Rosaceae / Rose plant
Crabapple in mixed forests, forest edges, hedges, bushes cultivated apples in gardens, on meadows, in fruit gardens
“Malus” is derived from the Greek “melon” = apple, apple-like fruit. The term apple (Old High German “apful”, Middle High German “Apfel”) is assumed to be of Indo-European origin. The crabapple was the “tree of the year 2013”. Archaeological findings confirm that the crabapple (Malus Sylvestris) was already used about 6000 years ago, in the times of the Neolithic pile dwellings. It mostly grows as a three to five meter high shrub and has a dense, richly branched crown. The branches have thorny short shoots.
Even before the leaves sprout, the crabapple tree unfolds pink-white flowers on bare flower stems in April-May.
The crabapple is regarded as the progenitor of the many varieties of the cultivated apple.The fruits are woody-hard, bitter-sour and have a diameter of two to four centimeters.
The cultivated apple trees have no thorns and the apples are much bigger and sweeter than the wild ones. It is interesting to note that unkempt, wild apple trees or descendants of cultivated apple trees that spread wildly often resemble the crabapple again and have thorns.
History Crabapple – Cultured-Apple
How did the apple tree come to Europe?
Wolf-Dieter Storl1: “The apple was the most important fruit for the Celts, even in the case of the harsh crabapple – they did not yet know the cultivated garden varieties. They boiled the apples into mush, pressed them into refreshing cider, made vinegar from them and dried sliced apples (the apple slices) on the stove, where they became sweeter and more durable. The apple, the fruit of autumn, which in the Nordic countries is best stored over the winter, was probably their only fruit in the dark season.
As a symbol in Celtic mythology, the apple stands for perfection and wisdom, eternal youth and bliss. Again and again, the magical golden apples appear in Celtic mythology”.
When the Romans came, they began to cultivate their cultivated apple trees in the Germanic provinces. Despite the advantages of the table apple, the Celts and Teutons kept their own name for the fruit = Germ. apful; Kelt. aval.
Where did the Romans get the cultivated apples from? Wolf-Dieter Storl2: “The ancient Persians made it their business to convert as many wild plants as possible into cultivated plants. Mankind owes the cultivated apple to them. It was through the Persians that the Romans got to know it, who in turn brought it to the peoples of northern Europe.”
In European and Asian cultures, the cultivated apple was also a symbol of life, love and fertility. Because of its round shape, it was seen as a symbol of the perfection of the earth and the cosmos. In numerous customs (e.g., as Santa Claus gift and Christmas decoration), fairy tales, myths and legends the apple plays an important role, also as golden apple, as apple of life, etc.
Medieval medicine also attributed healing properties to the apple. Hildegard von Bingen spoke of the contracting properties of leaves, flowers and shoots. She recommended the ripe raw apples as a good food for healthy people and the cooked or roasted apples as a suitable dietary food for the sick.
The apple was once a very important food source for the people, meant prosperity and also stood for tradition and authority. During the coronation ceremony, the so-called imperial orb was placed in the left hand of the rulers. Its form was to symbolize the rule of the spirit on earth by the God-willed, legitimate ruler. Emperor Charlemagne was the initiator of a systematic cultivation of cultivars, which continues to this day. In the “Capitulare de villis” different varieties of apples are mentioned for planting. Today, it is estimated that there are about 30,000 cultivated apple varieties (Malus domestica) worldwide.
Still popular are old apple varieties such as Gravensteiner, Berner Rosenapfel (“Bern Rose Apple”), Glockenapfel (“Bell Apple”), Ontario, Bohnapfel, Schweizer Orangenapfel (“Swiss Orange Apple”), Berlepsch, Goldparmäne, Boskoop, Cox Orange, Renette, Sauergrauech, Klaraaepfel and many more. The apple is the most popular fruit in Switzerland as well as in Germany.
Can I eat crabapples?
According to Susanne Fischer-Rizzi3, crabapples are edible, but will have a good taste after cooking only. However, they produce a very aromatic jelly. She describes that she adds some of the small crabapples to all apple preparations because they enhance the taste.
Karin Greiner4: “Apples are regarded as medical fruit par excellence, thanks to their richness in minerals. Above all wooden and wild apples are considered as true nature pharmacy, as their many tannins have done good services in the people‘s medicine for ages.
In the Ore Mountains, a hotspot for crabapples, you strengthen your resistance with the help of apples and appreciate them as replacement for a flu protection vaccination. The naturally cloudy cider vinegar, obtained from apple wine, is also highly regarded.
In former times, it was a high art to produce a tasty, but also well storable apple juice by the correct mixture of different apple sorts. Through long experience, it was known that a small proportion of crabapples, whether genuine or similar to crabapples, give the products much more character and stability. In addition to wild pears, speierling and wild service berries, wild apples were always added as side fruits for must, distillation and other preparations.”
Apple Tree Signature
In former times, five to ten meter high trunk apple trees with high grown, densely branched treetops shaped the landscape. We recognize the roundish shape of the apple tree crown in the round apple. We can observe the same with the pear tree. The elongated shape of the crown is reflected there in the drop-shaped pear fruits. The shaping power of the tree draws the shape of its fruits.
Today the apple tree is often cultivated only in specialized enterprises and private gardens. In order to keep the effort for harvesting and maintenance as low as possible, the smaller trellis, column and spindle tree, the so-called half trunk, is usually cultivated.
Flowering, collecting and harvesting times
Fruits: depending on variety, from July/August to early November
The apple blossoms attract a lot of flower fairies in spring and give a feeling of happiness to those who stay nearby. The spirit of this tree knows the key to eternal youth and beauty.
Apples excrete the hormone-like gas ethylene, which promotes ripeness. Therefore, they should always be stored separately from potatoes and other fruits.
Summer apples (July-August harvest) such as clear apples and sour grauech are not suitable for storage, but for immediate consumption.
Autumn apples (harvest September-October), e.g., Gravensteiner, Berner Rosen (“Bern Roses“), can be stored for up to two weeks.
Winter apples (harvest October-November) such as bohnapples, bell apples, boskoop are suitable for storage. These are only ready for consumption after a few weeks of storage, usually from December, and can be stored cool for several months in relatively high humidity.
Healing active ingredients of apples
Apples are low in calories, but rich in nutrients. They contain up to 30% pectin, vitamins A, B, C, E, minerals, trace elements such as iron, phosphorus, calcium, fibre, tannins, flavonoids, fructose and fruit acids. Due to its fruit acid content, the apple is also known as the “toothbrush of nature”.
Why organic apples and old apple varieties are recommended
Today, the apple trees are sprayed several times with chemical agents until they are ready for harvesting. In order to meet consumer demands, apples are grown as generously as possible. This also changes the quality, because these apples contain more water, fewer ingredients and have less taste.
Because we, modern humans, prefer sweet, the sour polyphenols are bred off the old sorts. However, it is precisely these secondary plant substances that make the apple more tolerable for our digestion, because they inactivate the apple allergen and prevent allergy-inducing proteins from being absorbed by the body. For this reason, the tendency to allergies in new varieties is higher than in old varieties.
Tip from Ursel Bühring5: If you do not tolerate raw apples, try them after cooking briefly. This changes the protein components that cause allergies. Although vitamin C is also broken down somewhat, apples have many other healthy, heat-stable ingredients.
Enjoying fresh apples with their apple peel
Experts recommend: Organic – Unsprayed – Unwaxed – Fully ripe – Room temperature
Pfarrer Künzli6: “The apple contains more phosphoric acid in an easily digestible compound than any other vegetable food. Its consumption has a beneficial effect on the brain, stimulates the liver, disinfects the oral cavity, binds the excess acids of the stomach, stimulates the activity of the kidneys and intestines, protects against digestive problems, diseases of the throat and obesity”.
This applies to unsprayed and unwaxed organic apples. The peel contains the most vitamins. In addition, the vitamin C content directly under the peel is six times higher than in the flesh.
It is also important to always enjoy the apples fully ripe, as unripe fruits contain starch that is difficult to digest and must first be converted into sugar. In addition, raw apples should not be eaten in the evening because they begin to ferment in the intestines overnight.
Note from Pastor Künzli7: “There are people who are not allowed to eat fresh apples because they have a weak stomach. You should never enjoy very cold apples that just come out of the fridge, because they can cause stomach problems.”
Apples are healthy!
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”“One apple a day and the doctor stays where he likes!” But one small apple a day is not enough, there should be at least three to achieve an effect.
According to Hippocrates: “Your food should be your remedy”:
Who doesn’t like to bite into a crunchy fresh apple, preferably directly from the tree?
- Because of its nutrients, the apple provides energy.
- With its water and acid content, it is a wonderful thirst quencher.
- It is the ideal snack for young and old, big and small, during breaks at school, at home, in the office, at conferences, wherever you are, hiking in nature, travelling.
- Due to its quickly digestible carbohydrates, it is also an energy source after sports.
- Apple also cleans teeth and keeps gums healthy.
- The consumption of an apple works against ravenous appetite. A ravenous hunger attack is prevented by the pectin content not allowing the insulin level to rise too quickly and intensively.
Folk medicine applications
Apples are a wonderful remedy for our digestive system. Apples work equally well for a wide variety of conditions. On the one hand they stop diarrhoea, on the other hand they can relieve constipation. It depends on the preparation and intake.
Apple with peel for constipation
The ripe apple, raw and well chewed with its peel, helps with constipation. The dietary fibres pectin and cellulose cause a stretching stimulus in the intestines and stimulate the intestinal peristalsis, which stimulates digestion. In addition, pectin increases the feeling of satiety due to its high swelling capacity. Therefore it is also an ideal meal for those who want to reduce their weight. For this, you can also eat an apple before breakfast or, if necessary, before lunch or dinner.
Pfarrer Künzle recommends8: “Apple cider (= apple juice) is advisable for people who do not have a good bowel movement every day. It is a harmless propellant.”
Apple without peel for diarrhoea
In case of diarrhoea, the peeled, very finely grated apples help as sole food. Apple pectins protect the mucous membranes and have an anti-inflammatory effect by binding excess water and harmful substances in the intestines. The pectins produce a gel-like solution with a large surface area. This covers the intestinal wall and forms a protective layer which protects the intestinal wall cells. It also helps healing the inflamed intestinal mucosa by binding bacterial toxins, which are excreted through the stool.
Ursel Bühring recommends9:
“In case of acute diarrhoea, peel an apple and grate it very finely on the glass grater, sprinkle some cinnamon powder (which relaxes the cramps) over it. Drink herbal tea to compensate for the loss of liquid.
For intestinal poisoning, non-acute diarrhoea or sensitive intestines:
One to three days long as only food one-half to one kilogram apples, have them finely grated, including peel. For those who do not tolerate apple puree, may slightly warm it up, which makes it more digestible – such preparation could also be tried by apple allergy sufferers.
In the case of non-acute diarrhoea, the stool usually returns to normal on the second day.”
Tea of apple peel
The tea from dried apple peel is a thirst quencher and vitamin donor and can be seasoned to taste with lemon and sweetened with sugar.
Apple peel stimulates the bladder and kidneys, relaxes the nervous system and reduces fever, as its alkaline components promote the excretion of uric acid and urine volume. Therefore, it is also recommended for the reduction of water and uric acid depots in gout, rheumatism and inflammations in the urinary tract.
Drying apple peels
Peel the organic apples and let them dry in the air or in the oven at 50° Centigrade.
Tea of apple peel
Boil fifty grams apple peel in one litre of water, cover and leave to stand for fifteen minutes, strain and drink tea throughout the day.
For colds it can be brewed together with one teaspoon dried thyme or crushed cinnamon bark.
Tea of apple peel according to Pfarrer Künzle10:
“The apple peels contain the most healing of the apple, phosphoric acid iron, which strengthens the nerves and purifies the blood:
- A handful of dried apple peels
- Approximately ten grams lemon balm leaves
- Pour one-half litres of boiling water over it, cover and allow to stand for seven to ten minutes.
- Add lemon juice, cinnamon stems and sweeten to taste.
This tea is very thirst-quenching, refreshing and is mainly recommended for fever. It is beneficial for strengthening nerves, memory, for constipation, stone and gout diseases, heart palpitations, stomach diseases, neurasthenia, cardiac insufficiency, kidney and bladder diseases and obesity. Tea of apple peel purifies the blood, forms new blood and strengthens the whole organism.”
Tea from whole apples
Strengthens nerves, supports mentally working people.
Pfarrer Künzle11: “Even stronger than tea from apple peels, is the tea from whole apples. Cut an unpeeled apple into small pieces or slices, pour one litre of boiling water over it and leave to brew for about two hours in a warm place. This tea is worth its weight in gold for people who work intellectually and for those who are nervously strained.”
The juice pressed from the apples (= apple cider), can be drunk in various ways, as
- Apple juice pure or diluted with water
- Add to the tea, e.g., to sweeten children’s tea (half tea and half apple juice each).
- Warm throat compress with pure apple juice, see hoarseness
It is thickened apple juice from sweet apples, such as Jonathan variety. The thick apple juice is used for sweetening, very popular in vegan raw food cuisine. It is also often used as a substitute for white sugar, just like pear fruit juice concentrate.
Apple wraps for rheumatic complaints
An apple wrap can help with rheumatic complaints. That’s how it works:
- Wrap the grated apple in a cloth (e.g., gauze diaper).
- Apply cold in case of acute inflammation
- In the case of chronic complaints, heat slightly over steam of water or boil water in a pan, place the lid on top of the pan contrariwise, put the wrap on the lid to warm it up.
Apples for hoarseness, sore throat
The following household remedies can help:
- Roasted apple with honey
Ingredients: one apple, butter and honey (butter greases throat and throat, honey heals wounds)
There you go: Cut out the apple core, fill up with butter and fry in the oven or in a covered frying pan until soft. Allow to cool a little and add honey as desired, eat warm.
Another version: Sprinkle fried apple slices with honey, eat warm.
- Drink heated apple juice in sips.
- Gurgling with diluted apple vinegar (3 teaspoons in 1 glass of warm water)
- Warm neck compress according to parson Künzle12: Naturopathy uses hot cider = apple juice externally for compresses for neck problems, swallowing pains, swelling of tonsils and ulcers.
It is made from ripe apples and is available everywhere. If you want to experiment and produce apple vinegar yourself, you can find a recipe e.g., at https://www.smarticular.net/apfelessig-und-anderen-fruchtessig-ganz-einfach-selbst-herstellen
Apple vinegar cure
Apple vinegar contains most of the apple’s active ingredients. Therefore, it supplies the body with all important vitamins, minerals and trace elements, which can also strengthen the immune system and regulate the intestinal functions.
The naturally cloudy apple vinegar is best suited for the apple vinegar cure, as it still contains a lot of pectin, which supports the supply of body fluid. Drunk regularly, vinegar prevents the spread of putrefactive bacteria in the intestines and supports the body in the formation of digestive enzymes.
The apple cider vinegar cure is considered a fountain of youth because it stimulates the excretory organs kidneys, intestines, lungs and skin to detoxify and is suitable for constipation, skin or rheumatic diseases.
This is how it works:
Boil one glass of water, cool to drinking temperature.
Add two teaspoons of naturally cloudy apple vinegar to the glass and mix.
Duration: For three to four weeks drink slowly and in sips three times daily before eating.
This cure can be repeated several times a year.
Important to note:With sensitive stomach no apple vinegar, also no diluted apple vinegar should be drunk on an empty stomach, since apple vinegar can irritate the sensitive stomach.
Breaking fast with an apple
The apple is the first food to break the fast. It is chewed slowly and thoroughly. It is particularly suitable because it is easy to digest and stimulates the digestive juices without overexerting the body.
Apple relief day
Apples are low in calories and provide the body with a rich supply of nutrients. One day off a week is suitable for stimulating metabolism, rheumatic complaints, detoxification or weight reduction:
Spread one-and-one-half to two kilograms of apples over five portions and eat throughout the day. Do not eat any other food, but drink enough.
Three-day apple health cure
This classic method strengthens the heart and nerves and keeps the intestines healthy:
Eat only grated and/or well chewed apples once a month for three days, as much as you need.
Natural apple cosmetics
Apple blossom water was already considered a beauty remedy in ancient times. Grated apples as a face mask cleanse the skin. The original pomade (Italian: pomo = apple) has been made from apple pulp, lard and rose water since the time of Queen Elizabeth I.
Apple cosmetics, according to Ursel Bühring13
makes the skin soft and clean, moisturizes it, tightens and tones it and stabilizes the small blood vessels in couperose:
- One-half to one whole apple
- One to two teaspoons liquid honey, cream, egg or lemon juice
Apple facial tonic
Grate the apple, press the juice through a sieve and use as a tonic.
Refreshes and activates tired skin.
Mix the “apple puree” left over after pressing with lemon (for oily skin) or cream, honey or egg (for dry skin), depending on the condition of the skin, and apply to the face. After twenty minutes, remove with the apple facial tonic.
Important: The listed application possibilities do not replace expert advice from a doctor or therapist.
1) Storl, Wolf-Dieter: Pflanzen der Kelten (Plants of the Celts). 2003. AT. S. 265
2)Storl, Wolf-Dieter; Scheffer, Mechthild: Die Seelenpflanzen des Edward Bach (The soul plants of Edward Bach). 2007. Irisana. S. 165
3) Fischer-Rizzi, Susanne: Blätter von Bäumen (Leaves of trees). 2001. Irisana. S. 17
4) Greiner, Karin: Bäume in Küche und Heilkunde (Trees in kitchen and medicine). AT. 2017. S. 41
5) Bühring, Ursel; Bächle-Helde, Bernadette: Heilkraft von Obst und Gemüse (Healing power of fruit and vegetables). 2007. Ulmer. S. 46
6) Künzle, Joh., Priest: Das große Kräuterheilbuch (The great herbal healing book). 1945 Otto Walter, p. 348
7) Künzle, Joh., Priest: Das große Kräuterheilbuch (The great herbal healing book). 1945 Otto Walter, p. 348
8) Künzle, Joh., Priest: Das große Kräuterheilbuch (The great herbal healing book). 1945 Otto Walter, p. 349
9) Bühring, Ursel; Bächle-Helde, Bernadette: Heilkraft von Obst und Gemüse (Healing power of fruit and vegetables). 2007. Ulmer. S. 48
10) Künzle, Joh., Priest: Das große Kräuterheilbuch (The great herbal healing book). 1945 Otto Walter, p. 349
11) Künzle, Joh., Priest: Das große Kräuterheilbuch (The great herbal healing book). 1945 Otto Walter, p. 349
12) Künzle, Joh., Priest: Das große Kräuterheilbuch (The great herbal healing book). 1945 Otto Walter, p. 349
13) Bühring, Ursel; Bächle-Helde, Bernadette: Heilkraft von Obst und Gemüse (Healing power of fruit and vegetables). 2007. Ulmer. S. 49
Photos © Erika Röthlisberger