Ensuring Quality in an Autumn Classic: The Apple
01 January 2017
As October arrives so do many delicious varieties of apples on the supermarket shelves. Apples are 'the original fruit' of Northern Europe and almost every country has its own unique old variety. Long before berries and bananas became popular, people ate apples.
There are still dozens of old apple varieties that are produced and sold locally in Northern Europe, from the Åkerö variety in Sweden to Goudreinette in Holland. Over the last 10 years numerous new varieties have entered the market, all fine-tuned to match the taste preferences of the modern consumer.
Often you will hear people talk about apples and pears as a joint category, but from a consumer use and quality perspective, apples and pears are very distinctive. You literally can’t compare apples with pears. It’s important to finetune the apple category based on quality and taste profiles.
Last year we went to a fruit farm in Herefordshire in the UK to see how they grow top quality apples. Speaking to Jake Simpson, owner of Chicory Crops Ltd, who supplies his apples to three supermarkets in the UK.
They begin to prune the apples in spring, to shape the tree in a way that lets more light in. This will help the fruit grow in the best way possible. To get an optimum size of apple, between 65-80mm, they thin down the number of apples on the tree. The fruit then undergoes a spray programme to prevent insect and fungal issues. They irrigate and fertigate through the water in the field to help the apples grow to a high quality.
Just before picking, the team will go into the fields and summer prune the apple trees. This involves pulling some of the one year growth away to let more light in. Once all of these processes have taken place, they will pick the apples to a specification.
Before picking the apples they go out to the field to take samples. By slicing the apple in half and applying iodine it allows them to see how much starch has moved to sugar.
It is really important to have these quality measures in place at the farms.
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