Grim's Grub: An apple by any other name ... can vary quite a bit

The history behind some of the best known doctor repellants

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Apples aren't exclusively American, but they certainly have a lot of cultural significance on this side of the ocean thanks to Johnny Appleseed and the oh-so-American apple pie.

As a flashback to an earlier Grim's Grub, here's your reminder that the apples Johnny planted throughout the country were of a crab variety, planted specifically for use in making hard cider, one of several lower cost alternatives to wine.

There are over 7,000 apple producers who produce over 200 bushels of fruit each year in the United States, according to

Perhaps due to availability, as of 2019, apples were the nation's favorite fruit, according to a USDA survey.

That doesn't explain much, however, as I suspect whether you choose an apple or an orange or a banana depends largely on the variety of apple.


It is no secret that one apple is not the same as another. In this day and age there are over 2,500 varieties of apple in the United States and 75,000 worldwide.

Despite what Romeo said about the sweetness of roses and their names, the sweetness of this rose family member is very different depending on the name.

Cultivators, orchardists and scientists have worked very hard to guarantee that cultivars vary greatly with an incredible, unique character for each.

Some of the earliest popular varieties happened by accident, thanks to the apple's inability to produce true from seed, meaning a simple ornamental crab in your backyard could possibly bear the seeds to produce a new, delicious variety of edible if you're lucky.

Golden Delicious apples are a fairly old cultivar, calling back to 1912 in West Virginia. It is one of the two most popular varieties grown in the state.

The first is the Grimes Golden, the first example of which was supposedly planted by Johnny Appleseed. That tree blew down in 1905.

The Golden Delicious, a related cultivar, was discovered in Clay County by a man named Anderson Mullins.

The Golden Delicious had a sweeter taste than Grimes Golden, though it was believed to be closely related.


It went by the name Mullins' Yellow Seedling and Annit apple before the Stark Brothers Nurseries bought the original tree from Mullins and rebranded it to sell alongside their Red Delicious apples.

The original Golden Delicious tree died in the 1950s. It has since been named the official state fruit of West Virginia. It was a favorite apple of John Harvey Kellogg, founder of the breakfast cereal company by the same name.

The Golden Delicious apple was one of the earliest nonred apples to grow in popularity.

It was also a different experience from other apples in both taste and texture, being extremely sweet and almost pear-like in texture.

Its softer profile does not lend itself well to recipes that require a firm apple texture, though they are favored for salads, applesauce and apple butter.

Braeburn Apples were quite possibly produced from seed "distributed" by birds and other apple fans, fortunately in the midst of a New Zealand apple orchard called Braeburn Orchard.

The seedlings were volunteers discovered in 1952 at the orchard by O. Moran, of Waiwhero, in Moutere Hills, New Zealand.

Many years since discovery, the Braeburn is believed to be a cross between delicious and Sturmer Pippin apples.


Braeburns are favored for their versatility, especially in cooking, as they tend to remain firm when baked without releasing too much liquid. They are a bicolored apple with a mild flavor between sweet and tart.

Some home growers swear the Braeburn requires one frost before being picked in order to have the best texture and flavor. They are among the top contenders for pie apples.

Granny Smith may be the queen of the tart apples. The tartness is perhaps closest to that of crabs, but with enough sweetness to make it a popular edible.

This apple was produced from seed tossed in a rubbish heap, originally found not in a carefully organized row of intentionally planted trees, but outside the kitchen window of Maria Ann Smith, an English woman living in Sydney, Australia.

Smith was called "Granny" by her neighbors, and the name was extended to her apple. She had accidentally planted the apple while testing French crab apples in recipes, after which she would toss them out her window, where the fated scion of everyone's favorite green apple took root just before 1868.

Smith took a liking to them specifically because they were a suitable cooking apple that stored for longer than others.

Honeycrisp apples are my personal favorite, and one of the younger apple cultivars. The flavor is bold. Some describe them as super sweet, but I think they don't get credit enough for their tartness.

They range from enormous round bulbs to slightly smaller than a red delicious, but still round. They are crisp and juicy and almost as useful in cooking as a Braeburn or Granny Smith.


It's almost as if this apple was very intentionally designed with a purpose ... because it was.

The Honeycrisp apple is hailed as the first "brand name" apple thanks to the very specific and patented pedigree that led to its development in a University of Minnesota orchard.

The Golden Delicious likely lent the Honeycrisp its sweetness, as it is considered a grandparent. Honeycrisp was patented in 1988 before the 1991 public release. The patent has since expired in 2004.

The patent earned the University of Minnesota and its inventors more than $10 million in that time. The Honeycrisp has been a genetic donor to SweeTango, which some consider an even better variety — but those people are wrong.

Caramel Apples

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Courtesy of Dorothy Rollins' cooking class

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • Dash of salt
  • Chopped nuts (optional)
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4-5 Granny Smith apples, stems removed, washed, dried and skewered on apple or Popsicle sticks

In a heavy saucepan melt the butter, then stir in the brown sugar, syrup and salt. Mix this well. Bring to a boil over medium heat while constantly stirring.
Once boiling and while stirring, add in the sweetened condensed milk. Use a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature as you continue to cook the mixture to a temperature of 245 degrees. It should take 12-15 minutes and the surface should show signs of a gentle boil across the entire surface.

Remove the caramel from the heat and add vanilla, then dip the apples into the mixture. Roll the apples in nuts if using them, then place them on a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper and chill before eating.

Apple Fritter Rings

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  • 4 large or 6 smaller Honeycrisp apples, cored, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch thick rings
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon cooking oil
  • Shortening or cooking oil for frying
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine the flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
In another bowl or deep saucer, combine the egg, milk and cooking oil. Mix this liquid into the flour mixture until combined thoroughly.

In a skillet or pan at least 2 inches deep, bring one inch of cooking oil or shortening to 375 degrees. Dip the apple rings into the batter one at a time, then fry them in hot oil for about 1 1/2 minutes per side or until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels.

Sprinkle with a mix of sugar and ground cinnamon. Serve hot for best results.

Travis Grimler is a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper in Pequot Lakes/Pine River. He may be reached at 218-855-5853 or

Travis Grimler began work at the Echo Journal Jan. 2 of 2013 while the publication was still split in two as the Pine River Journal and Lake Country Echo. He is a full time reporter/photographer/videographer for the paper and operates primarily out of the northern stretch of the coverage area (Hackensack to Jenkins).
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