Isaac Newton's Tree Apples
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Isaac Newton’s Tree apples are a large, heirloom variety. They have a blocky shape, with broad shoulders and well-defined ribs. The green skinned apples may be covered with a red blush, often appearing in variegated vertical streaks, on the portion of the apple that gets the most sunshine. They have a crisp yet soft, white flesh that may be tinged with green. Isaac Newton’s Tree apples have a good balance of tart and sweet.
Isaac Newton’s Tree apples are available in the fall months.
Isaac Newton’s Tree apple was named after the famous mathematician who developed the three laws of motion and, thanks to an apple, the universal laws of gravity. The apple variety was known as the Flower of Kent, a member of Malus domestica, until the story behind Newton’s theory of gravity gained popularity. The anecdote of the apple falling from the tree appeared in a biography of Isaac Newton written by William Stukeley in 1752, and again in an 1806 publication. Flower of Kent apples were popular for use in cooking and baking in the 17th and 18th centuries. A tree was planted at Woolsthorpe Manor, near Grantham, Lincolnshire, the childhood home of Isaac Newton sometime in the mid-1600s. Identifying the tree was not difficult as it was one of the only trees growing on the property. Since the mid-1700s, cuttings from the original tree have been grafted onto rootstock and grown in southern England for centuries. It was known for a very long time as the “gravity tree”.
Isaac Newton’s Tree apples are a good source both soluble and insoluble fiber. They also contain vitamins A and C, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and iron. Consuming apples is considered beneficial for digestion and may protect against coronary disease.
Isaac Newton’s Tree apples are most often used for cooking or baking. The large apples can be eaten fresh, though their soft texture is not always ideal for use in many fresh applications. Their texture is well-suited for applesauce. Pair Isaac Newton’s Tree apples with other fruits or berries for pies, tarts, galettes, fritters, or crisps. The apples do not retain their shape or texture when cooked, and tend to soften into a puree. Isaac Newton’s Tree apples are good keepers, and will store for up to a month in the refrigerator.
Isaac Newton was born in 1642 in Grantham, England. After a failed attempt by his parents to convince him to become a farmer, he went on to study at Cambridge University. There he explored mathematics, philosophy, religion, physics, and astronomy. It was on a visit home to Woolsthorpe Manor in 1666 that Newton happened to see an apple fall from the tree and came up with his theory of gravity. He returned to Cambridge University to complete his studies, and in 1687 published both his three laws of motion and law of universal gravity in “Principia”. Newton would go on to be considered one of the greatest mathematicians and physicists of our time. The tale of the apple falling from the tree became famous after the publication of several biographies on the mathematician’s life.
Long before they were known as Isaac Newton’s Tree apples, Flower of Kent apples originated in the county of Kent in southeastern England. The small county borders London to the northwest and the English Channel to the southeast. The apple was listed and introduced as the Flower of Kent in 1629, though it was first mentioned in the 15th century. The tree was one of the only apple trees growing on the grounds of Isaac Newton’s home. The original tree from which Isaac Newton’s apple fell, spurring his theory of gravity, is said to have toppled over in a storm sometime around 1820. Branches were removed, some were made into trinket boxes or removed by pilgrims who flocked to the site. Pieces of the tree were grafted onto rootstock, and later grown in other areas of Britain. The original tree is said to have re-rooted and still grows at Woolsthorpe Manor, near Grantham, more than 100 miles north of London. Today, the Sir Isaac Newton’s apple trees grow north of London in Cambridge, and at the National Physics Laboratory to the south, and at Brogdale Collections in Kent. In 2002, it was named one of 50 Great British Trees by the Tree Council.