What’s more American than apple pie? It pairs perfectly with patriotic celebrations, fireworks, and summer picnics, and this no-fuss apple pie recipe is as easy as it gets!
Although apple pie has come to symbolize American culture, it’s surprisingly not that American at all! Keep reading to learn about the history of apple pie and get instructions for a quick and easy Virginia apple pie recipe.
The Apple’s Early Days in America
Apples originated in Asia and have been in North America for about as long as Europeans. Early colonists of Jamestown, Va., brought European apple tree cuttings and seeds to the New World and used them for cidermaking. The tart, crisp apple varieties used in apple pie recipes had not yet been developed in the colonies.
Apple trees are easy to cross-pollinate, meaning it’s relatively easy to create new varieties. By the 1800s, American farmers were growing an astounding 14,000 different types of apples. (Today, Virginia is one of the largest apple-producing states in the country.
According to Smithsonian magazine, the introduction of new fruit varieties like apples, pears, and peaches was met with the same level of excitement typically reserved for the day’s popular music and movie stars!
Around that time, John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed, was planting apple trees across the American frontier. By that point, the apple had become symbolic of American culture, and Johnny Appleseed was an American folk hero.
History of Apple Pie
The first recipe for apple pie was printed in 1381 in England. It is made with apples, pears, figs, raisins, and saffron. Sugar was neither affordable or easy to get at the time, so early apple pie recipes usually don’t call for it. Apple pies were also served in a type of pastry known as a “coffin,” which is a container for the filling not meant for consumption.
A similar recipe for the apple pie as we know it today appeared in a Dutch cookbook in 1514. It appears in a variety of other German, French, and Italian recipes written before the settlement of the American colonies.
The Origins & Meaning of the Saying “As American As Apple Pie”
The origins of the saying “as American as apple pie” are difficult to pinpoint. A 1902 newspaper article wrote that “no pie-eating people can be permanently vanquished.”
American soldiers helped popularize the phrase during World War II when they told journalists they were going to war “for mom and apple pie.” Thus, the saying “as American as apple pie” was born.
Regardless of the apple pie’s roots, you can’t resist its mouthwatering flavor. Check out the video below, or download the free Virginia apple pie recipe card.
How to Make Virginia Apple Pie
- 2 refrigerated pie crusts
- 6 cups peeled, thinly sliced tart apples
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into little pats
- Preheat oven to 450˚ F. To make the apple pie filling, mix the apples, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt in a medium bowl.
- Lightly flour a working surface. Roll out a chilled, uncooked pie crust and place in the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate.
- Pour the apples in the uncooked bottom crust in the pie pan. Top with pieces of butter.
- Top with second pie crust, crimping the edges. Cut a few slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape.
- Cover the edges with a pie crust shield or aluminum foil. Bake at 450˚ F for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350˚ F and continue baking 30 to 40 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving warm with ice cream.
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