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 Apple in its composition consists of vegetable fibre, albumin, sugar, gum, chlorophyll, malic acid, earthy lime salts, and much water. German food-chemists teach that this fruit contains phosphates more abundantly than any other edible garden product. Apples also afford "lecithin," a phosphorated compound derived chemically from glyco-phosphoric acid. The juice of Apples (when no cane sugar is taken with them) becomes converted within the body into alkaline carbonates, and will neutralize acid products of indigestion, or gout. The common source of the term Apple in all its forms has been attributed to the Latin "Abella," a town in Gampania, where fruit trees abound, and which is therefore styled "malifera," or apple-bearing, by Virgil.
The acids of Apples (malic and tartaric) are of signal use for men of sedentary habits whose livers are torpid; they serve to eliminate from the body noxious matters which would, if retained, make the brain heavy and dull, or would produce jaundice, or perhaps eruptions on the skin. Some such an experience has led to our taking Apple-sauce with roast pork, roast goose, and similar rich dishes. Two or three Apples eaten at night, either baked, or raw, or taken with breakfast, are useful against constipation. "They do easily and speedily pass through the belly; therefore they do mollify the belly." A dish of stewed Apples eaten three times daily has worked wonders in cases of confirmed drunkenness, giving the person eventually an absolute distaste for alcohol, in whatever form. A certain aromatic principle is possessed by the Apple on which its particular flavour depends, this being a fragrant essential oil, the "valerianate of amyl," which occurs in a small but appreciable quantity. The analysis of cider (fermented apple-juice) shows the presence therein of salicylic acid, formalin, malic acid, and other chemical constituents.
The digestion of a ripe, raw Apple occupies only eighty-five minutes, whilst the malic acid of such fruit, cooked, or raw, will help to digest meat in the stomach, as likewise the casein of sound cheese. "Bearing in mind our first Mother Eve, and the forbidden fruit as the beginning of all our mortal woes, the apple, according to the law of similars, ought homoeopathically to be the cure for original sin "(Mark Guy Pearse).
Sour Apples should be chosen for cooking, and must not be sliced too thin, else the juice runs out, and they become tough. In not a few cases the dried apple-rings of to-day have been deprived beforehand of their fresh juices by immersion in a water-bath after paring, coring, and slicing the fruit. These juices are made into independent Apple jelly; and the "snitz," or pulp, into the evaporated "apple rings." In Jane Austen's novel, Emma (1816), we learn that it was customary then, as a social English refection, to serve baked Apples during afternoon calls by visitors in the country. "Dear Jane,"said Miss Bates, "makes such a shocking breakfast, but about the middle of the day she gets hungry, and there is nothing she likes so well as these baked Apples, and they are extremely wholesome, for I took the opportunity the other day to ask Dr. Perry; and when I brought out the baked Apples the other afternoon, and hoped our friends would be so obliging as to take some, 'Oh,' said Mr. Churchill, 'there is nothing in the way of fruit half so good; and these are the finest-looking home-baked Apples I ever saw in my life.' 'Indeed, they are very delightful Apples,' was the reply, 'only we do not have them baked more than twice, but Mr. Woodhouse made us promise to have them baked three times".
Biffins are Apples peculiar to Norfolk, being so called from their close resemblance in colour to raw beef. Dickens, in his charming little story, Boots at the "Holly Tree Inn," tells that when Mrs. Harry Walmers, junior, was overcome with fatigue, the restorative which Boots was desired to procure was a Norfolk biffin. "I think a Norfolk biffin would rouse her, Cobbs," said Master Harry. This particular fruit was formerly dried in the oven until shrunk up, and leathery. When cooked it was stewed in syrup, until soft, and of its original size, being esteemed as a delicacy by the youngsters when they came down to dessert. In France, be it noted, these biffins are called "Pommes bonne femme"
Apples, when stored in a room, absorb oxygen from the air, and give off carbonic acid gas, so that after a while the atmosphere of this room would extinguish a lighted candle brought into it, as likewise the life of a small animal. But such an atmosphere tends to preserve the fruit, because decay is arrested through the deficiency of oxygen; therefore an apple-room should be air-tight. "The rotten apple," says a suggestive old proverb, "injures its neighbours." Again, Shakespeare has told us in Henry V: "Faith, as you say, there's. small choice in rotten apples." In The Life of Samuel Johnson it is related that the direction of his untutored studies was determined at sixteen or seventeen, by finding in his father's bookseller's shop at Lichfield a folio of Petrarch on a shelf, where he was looking for apples.
The juices of Apples become matured and lose their rawness by keeping the fruit a certain time. These juices (as likewise those of the pear, the peach, the plum, and other such fruits), when taken without any addition of cane sugar, diminish acidity in the stomach rather than provoke it, becoming converted chemically into alkaline products which correct sour fermentation. A poultice made of rotten Apples is commonly used in Lincolnshire for relieving weak, or rheumatic eyes. Likewise in Paris an Apple poultice is employed for inflamed eyes, the Apple being roasted, and its soft pulp applied over the eyes without any intervening substance. "The paring of an Apple cut somewhat thick, and the inside of which is laid to hot, burning, or running eyes at night when the party goes to bed, and is tied, or bound to the same, doth help the trouble very speedily, and contrary to expectation; an excellent secret."A French physician has lately discovered that the bacillus of typhoid fever cannot live beyond a very short time in apple-juice; and he therefore advises persons who reside where the drinking water is not above suspicion to mix cider therewith before imbibing it.