6 Things You Didn't Know You Could Do with an Apple

Apple pie? Sure. But did you know the uses of apples range from headache management to bird food?

Leah Zerbe September 17, 2009

"Those are all good ideas, but can't we just eat these things?"

According to evidence uncovered by archeologists, people having been enjoying apples since at least 6,500 B.C. In that time, we've mastered baking apple pies, pressing fresh cider, and hundreds of handy uses for apple cider vinegar. But that's just scratching the surface. We've uncovered even more uses of apples and other reasons to embrace this wonderful fruit.

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#1: Ease your allergies. Apples are abundant in the plant compound quercetin. The compound seems to slow down the secretion of histamine, a chemical your body releases during an allergic reaction. A 2000 study in the journal Thorax also found that men who ate five or more apples a week enjoyed better lung function.

#2: Mitigate a migraine. Some studies have found that the smell of green apples can reduce the brain-thumping symptoms of a migraine, and can shorten a migraine episode. Researchers are also trying to figure out if it could help alleviate joint pain. If you feel a headache coming on, you can cut a green apple in half and smell it. You be the judge if it works or not! Just don't sniff artificial apple fragrances—they could cause a headache!

#3: Convert them into leather. Ok, not a leather jacket or anything like that, but fruit leather, a cheap, organic snack that the whole family will love. Visit the Nickel Pincher's story on drying and preserving fruit for step-by-step instructions.

#4: Ripen other apples, and other fruit. Apples, like peaches, pears, and bananas, release off ethylene gas, which speeds ripening. If you want to ripen certain fruits fast, put them in a paper bag with a ripened apple. (This trick won't work with oranges, pineapples, or tangerines, though.) On the flipside, if you don't want your fruit to ripen too quickly, make sure you don't store these fruits close to each other in the fridge.

#5: Clean your hair (with apple cider vinegar). Apple cider vinegar has tons of uses, but here's one you may have never heard of: To combat oily hair, put a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in a pint of water, and rinse it through your hair while taking a bath or shower. The vinegar solution will take out soap residue that can cling to and weigh down oily hair. The vinegar scent will go away when your hair dries.

#6: Feed the birds. With bird populations plummeting, it's more important than ever to give our feathered friends a helping hand. In the winter, cut a fresh apple into two pieces and put it out on a platform bird feeder as a treat for the various backyard birds that enjoy fruit.