This section is from the book "Meals Medicinal", by W. T. Fernie. Also available from Amazon: Meals Medicinal: With "Herbal Simples" Curative Foods From the Cook in Place of Drugs From the Chemist.
The botanical name of an apple tree is Pyrus malus, of which schoolboys are wont to make ingenious uses by playing on the latter word: -
"Malo, I had rather be, Malo, in an apple-tree, Malo, than a wicked man, Malo, in adversity.
Or, again, "Mea mater mala est sits," which bears as its most literal translation, "My mother is a depraved old sow,"but the intentional reading of which signifies, "Run, mother! the sow is eating our apples." The term "Adam's apple,"which is applied to the most prominent part in front of a person's neck, is based on the superstition that a piece of the forbidden fruit stuck in Adam's throat, and caused this lump to remain. When Sam Weller, in Pickwick, had to affix his signature to a couple of legal instruments at the Bank of England for proving his mother-in-law's will, this undertaking, "from Mr. Weller's habit of printing, was a work of so much labour and time that the officiating clerk peeled, and ate three Ribstone pippins while it was performing." "There was concocted in Gerard's day an ointment with the pulpe of apples, and swines' grease, and rose-water, which was used to beautifie the face, and to take away the roughnesse of the skin, and which was called in the shops ' pomatum,' from the apples, ' poma ' whereof it was prepared".
Figuratively the "apples of Sodom" signify something which disappoint one's hopes, or frustrate one's desires. They symbolize a fruit which was formerly reputed to grow on, or near the site of the Biblical city, Sodom. It was, as described by Josephus, and other writers, externally of fair appearance, but turning to smoke and ashes when plucked.
Among the Thebans of old the apple was held sacred to Hercules. They were long accustomed to offer a sheep annually on the altar of this deity, but upon one occasion, because of the river being swollen with heavy rains, they could not convey the sheep across it for such a purpose. Therefore, knowing the Greek word "meelon" to signify both a sheep and an apple, they substituted the latter, having stuck wooden pegs in its under surface to represent the sheep's legs; and this fruit they dedicated to the god always afterwards.
Very pathetic are the verses of Christopher Cranch (1880) in Busy, Crowded New York City, touching The Old Apple Woman.
"She sits by the side of a turbulent stream,
That rushes and rolls for ever, Up and down like a weary dream,
In the trance of a burning fever: Up and down in the long Broadway,
It flows with its endless paces; Down and up through the noisy day,
A river of feet, and of faces.
Withered and dry like a leafless bush,
That clings to the bank of a torrent. Year in, year out, in the whirl and the push,
She sits, of the city's current. Apples and cakes, and candy to sell,
Daily before her lying; The ragged newsboys know her well,
The rich never think of buying.
Year in, year out, in her dingy shawl,
The wind and the rain she weathers, Patient and mute at her humble stall;
But few are the coppers she gathers. The loud carts rattle in thunder and dust, Gay Fashion sweeps by in its coaches. With an absent stare she mumbles her crust,
Being past complaint, and reproaches:
Yet in her heart there remains the hope,
Of a Father's love, and pity: For her the clouded skies shall ope',
And the gates of a heavenly City".
As a remedy against pride, "Bear in mind," said Spurgeon, "we are all descended from a certain disreputable old gardener, who was turned out of his Master's garden for stealing His apples".
The wild Apple tree (scrab, or crab), armed with thorns, grows in our fields, and hedgerows, furnishing verjuice in its fruit, which abounds with tannin, and is highly astringent, being of very helpful use against some forms of chronic diarrhoea. For crab-apple jam, choose some of the largest crab apples; peel, score, and slice them; to each pound of these add one and a quarter pounds of lump sugar; and boil gently for three-quarters of an hour to a proper consistence. Verjuice also contains citric acid, about ten grains in an ounce. If a piece of a cut crab apple be rubbed on warts first pared to the quick, it will effectually cure them. Warts are brought about by the bacillus porri. "Their disappearance when charmed away by this or that whimsical method, is due," says Dr. Plowright, "to an auto-immunization, such as occurs likewise with regard to ringworm, leaving the child immune for the remainder of its life'.
'But this would not obtain in the case of adults, or old persons, from whose skin warts may be similarly dispelled by incantation, etc. The greater probability is a physical effect produced on their skin by the mental suggestion. Verjuice - formerly verjuyce - may be expressed from other green crude fruits, such as unripe grapes, etc. "Having a crabbed face of her own, she'll eat the less verjuice with her mutton." Again, "His sermons with satire are plenteously verjuiced." Being rich in tannin, verjuice is a most useful application for old sprains. Similarly, a vinegar poultice put on cold is an effectual remedy for sprains and bruises; it will also sometimes arrest the growth of scrofulous enlargements of bones. The poultice should be made with vinegar and oatmeal, or with the addition of breadcrumb, as was directed in the Pharmacopoeia Chirurgensis (1794).