Rosy Red Apples for Teachers- April 24th

This week’s recipie played on the historical tradition of the rosy red apple as a gift to teachers, in honor of the educational sorority Phi Delta Kappa.

I (Abena) was curious about this historical tradition so decided to do a bit of digging into its origins. There seem to be multiple accounts of the how this gesture began. Some believe it comes from the biblical story of Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit, often depicted as an apple, from the “Tree of Knowledge;” a fitting gift for an educator. Others believe parents offered an apple to teachers on the first day of school in an effort to leave a good impression. A PBS special about the American frontier suggests that the tradition originated on the frontier, with families taking responsibility for feeding and housing frontier teachers.

In this instance the rosy red apples are in honor of the educational nonprofit sorority, Phi Delta Kappa, which was established in March 1923. Founded by nine educators who desired to “establish a sisterhood among teachers” and to promote the “highest ideals” of the vocation, Phi Delta Kappa began in Jersey City, NJ. Initially the “Mother Founder,” Gladys Merritt, hosted the meetings at her home, where the other eight founding teachers joined her. In a matter of weeks the fledgling sorority became legally incorporated in the State of New Jersey. Over time the sorority spread from the Northeast to the Southeast, Midwest and eventually the whole nation. They also have international chapters in Barbados, Monrovia, Liberia, and West Africa.

Seated front row: Gladys Cannon Nunery, Julia Asbury Barnes, Gladys Merritt Ross (Mother Founder), Dr. Florence Steele Hunt. Standing Backroq: Ella Wells Butler, Marguerite Gross, Edna McConnell. From National Sorority Website

The intentions of the original founders remains the organization”s mission statement to this day:

“To Foster a spirit of sisterhood among teachers and to promote the highest ideals of the teaching profession.”

Phi delta Kappa

Their foundations rest upon their three-point program called Y.E.S., which stands for Youth, Education and Service. These foundational values lead members of the organization to actively puruse opportunities to shape the lives of youth in various communities across the country and world. They are dedicated to offering their educational expertise, “carrying the torch of enlightenment everywhere.” They see education as the “vehicle by which they can pursue their dreams, discover new vistas, seek self-actualization and achieve extraordinary accomplishments.”

They aim to:

  • Stimulate personal growth among teachers
  • Foster a true Spirit of Sisterhood
  • Promote the highest ideals of the teaching profession
  • Encourage the development of the potential of our youth


This was a fun recipe that yielded a really beautiful, tasty dish. We were not able to find any fresh or frozen cranberries, so we swapped them out for fresh raspberries. Other than that, everything in the recipe went off without a hitch!

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cup fresh cranberries
6 firm red apples

The first thing the recipe asked us to do was chop off the top of the apple and core it. There are tools that allows one to easily core apples, but we did not have one. So, Kayleigh went at it with a paring knife. There was only one almost slicing her finger off scare (they don’t teach you knife safety in grad school) and they certainly did not look very good, but we figured that even ugly apples would taste good when covered in sugar. 

This brings us to step two, which was to create a simple syrup by melting the sugar in a large Dutch oven. Once the sugar dissolved we added all of the apples to the pot with the cut sides down. We covered the pot and let them cook for about five minutes.

Next, we opened the lid and flipped them over. We could see that the portions of the apple that had been exposed to the syrup were already looking soft. We put the lid back on for the instructed five minutes. When we checked them after this final steam, there were some that we felt were too firm, so we left them in a little longer – basically until we could stick a fork in them with little resistance. 

Once they were all soft and removed from the pot, it was time to add the raspberries.

The simple syrup in which the apples had just cooked was now going to become a raspberry glaze that we would pour over them before serving. As Abena pointed out, this was basically a bunch of sugar, cooked in sugar, covered in sugar. The raspberries were quick to dissolve and it tasted so good.

We poured it over the soft apples, making sure to fill the holes where the cores had been. The longer is sat, the shinier the glaze became really capturing the “rosy red” that the title had promised. When it was finally time to eat them, they tasted exactly as we expected – sweet with a little tang from the berries.

Final Thoughts

This is definitively a beautiful recipe and it would probably be great in the fall when the apples and cranberries are in season. It would also look really nice as part of a holiday table spread. One thing this dish confirmed is that people of the cookbook’s generation certainly weren’t afraid of sugar!


Why People Give Teachers Apples
Why Do Teachers Like Apples?
Our History, NSPDK

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