Apples are my favorite fruit, apple blossoms my favorite flower, and apple trees my favorite tree. Growing up with a beautiful apple orchard, plus my dad’s affection for apple trees, could not but leave me deeply touched by their beauty and basic usefulness.

Preference for apples and apple blossoms

Apples have always held an unspoken meaning of “temptation.” Thanks to the story of Adam and Eve, apples always remind us of this meaning. I believe apple blossoms should be preferred above all other flowers, including the rose, because when all the beauty of the rose is gone, it leaves a scent, but the apple blossom leads to the fruit.

Apples, cider, vinegar, and pectin are all extremely medicinal. (See section on Vinegar.) I think apples are one of Mother Nature’s wonder health foods. The whole apple must be fresh and crispy; the cider is best when pressed without heat. The vinegar must be held up to the light before purchasing and have the “mother” floating visibly in it. The “mother” is what my dad and the other old-time farmers traditionally called the solid and quasi-solid stuff floating in high quality unfiltered and unrefined vinegar.

A good beginning

Apple products are an easy means to start making your own body care products. They are fun, familiar, available, and if you have some left over, you can just pop them in your mouth for a refreshing treat. Fresh raw apples make a wonderful mask mixed and mashed with honey or yogurt for irritated and sensitive skin.

When I first started making my own purely botanical™ skin care products, apples, of course, were my first choice for an ingredient. I made what I referred to as “apple mush” masks, cider astringents for the face and for the bath, and vinegar rinses for my hair.

Jeanne Rose recommends in her Herbal Body Book that “an excellent pomade for rough skin, elbows, heels, and knees is made by mixing apple pulp with equal amounts of solid fat and rosewater; the ingredients can be altered to suit your needs.” [Jeanne Rose, The Herbal Body Book, New York, NY: Perigee Books, 1982, p. 48.]

A great apple mask can be made by blending one-half an apple, one tablespoon honey, one tablespoon cider vinegar, three tablespoons almond or olive oil, and one tablespoon cooked oatmeal. Apply while lying down or in the bathtub, and leave on for twenty minutes. This mask is very soothing, healing, and nutritious for the skin.

I find that apple tree bark makes a great facial skin tonic for dry and normal skin. Make a tea of approximately one-fourth cup apple tree bark in two and one-half cups water. Use within three days and keep refrigerated.

Components of apples

Apples contain amylase, which is an exfoliating enzyme beneficial in skin care products. Apples are an excellent source of malic acid, a protein digester, and contain vitamins A and C. Apple seeds contain toxins, so be sure to remove them.

Apples are a good source of boron, which boosts blood levels of estrogen and other compounds that prevent demineralization. Boron also increases brain alertness. Apples are mildly antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral.

Other benefits

Eating “an apple a day” goes a long way to aid the digestive tract and to help eliminate toxins. According to Daniel B. Mowrey, in The Scientific Validation of Herbal Medicine, [Daniel B. Mowrey, The Scientific Validation of Herbal Medicine, N.P.: Cormorant Books, 1986.] apple pectin serves the natural purpose in plants of binding adjacent cell walls. It is believed that pectin operates by binding with bile acids, thereby decreasing cholesterol and fat absorption.

Especially beneficial to dry skin is an apple mush and brewer’s yeast mask. Fresh apple juice made from the core and peel is a great source of pectin and an effective skin smoother. Just apply with a cotton ball or mix with honey as a mask.

Apples in my past

Since my dad was a sixth-generation apple grower and I grew up around an apple orchard, you can imagine the ways my parents prepared apples. Since they were “free” for us, and my parents had five kids to feed—and Mom and Dad were as frugal as you could be—we had apples every imaginable way. We had fried apples for breakfast, raw while working on the farm, applesauce for lunch, baked apples, apple crisp, and apple brown Betty for dessert, Dutch apple cake, stewed apples, and apples in tapioca. My parents tried a similar menu one year with corn, and after that year I did not eat corn again for ten solid years. But I never tired of apples.

Cherry and blueberry pies were not allowed in our house, and on the rare occasion we ate out it was not even wise to look at another fruit pie. Applesauce was made by the gallon, apple butter by the peck, apple cider by the barrel, and even love at our house was expressed in bushels.

Private enterprise began early at our house

My very first entrepreneurial job was selling apples door to door. My dad split up the neighboring housing areas between my brothers and me, and we each went door to door with wagons or a peck of apples with free samples for our potential customers to try. Teaching us the basics of business, my dad sold us each bushel for about $2 and then we sold our apples for up to $4 a bushel.