"There is probably no fruit so universally healthful and acceptable to the stomach as apples. The more they are eaten the less danger will there be of sickness, all other things being equal. There are a great many varieties of apples, so many, in fact, that every taste may be suited. The kind that suits one may not suit another; but they are all health-giving and nourishing, and their use helps to drive away disease and prolong life. They are best eaten raw; but stewed apples are good, and for the sick well baked apples are most excellent."
A. W. Chase, M. D., Dr Chase’s Recipes or Information for Everybody, revised edition (1920)
This early C20th book of remedies, cures, practical suggestions etc. was originally written in the previous century, by Dr Alvin W. Chase. According to museumofhealthcare.blog, he was an itinerant medical man who, at the age of 38, decided to make the switch from ordinary travelling salesman to doctor. He obtained a medical degree from Eclectic Medical1Eclectic medicine was a school of non-invasive, plant based healing that was developed in the U.S. in the nineteenth century and sounds like it was way ahead of its time. Institute in Cincinnati and then spent a number of years travelling between the eastern seaboard and the midwestern states, diagnosing and prescribing as he went. And, of course, selling copies of the original edition of his recipe book, which he’d written whilst practising medicine in Ann Arbor.
Dr Chase was clearly a big fan of the humble apple, as we can see from the quotation above. Not so keen on peaches and pears though, unless they were picked and eaten very fresh indeed:
"When these fruits are picked ripe from the trees they are luscious and digestible; but when they are picked green and stowed away in dark closets or drawers to ripen they lose much of their value and often become unfit for use. The skins of these fruits are very undigestible and frequently cause inflammatory conditions of the bowels ; they also are liable to produce tartar on the teeth."
He also suggested, new to me, a medicinal use for quinces:
"This fruit is rarely eaten raw and is mostly used as a preserve with apples, or in the form of jelly. A good method of preparing quinces for use in time of sickness is to make a thin jelly out of the cores and seeds. This is very mucilagenous and ropy, whence it is often called "quince-rope". It is soothing for coughs and sore throat and useful after bowel troubles."
Which is very interesting, but not very appetising. But it is meant to be a medicine, and medicine isn’t supposed to taste nice, is it?
Anyway, I’m all for “[t]he more they are eaten the less danger will there be of sickness, all other things being equal”. Pass me a pippin please.
- 1Eclectic medicine was a school of non-invasive, plant based healing that was developed in the U.S. in the nineteenth century and sounds like it was way ahead of its time.