G’day! I’m an Aussie apple, one of Granny Smith’s mob, and I’m here to tell you all about my fantastic apple family. It’s really huge and we come from all around the world – just like the people of Australia. I have so many cousins it’s hard for me to remember all their names, but my extended Australian family includes Red Delicious, Jonathan, Braeburn, Bonza, Pink Lady, Golden Delicious, Fuji and Gala apples (you can read more about them in Varieties). It’s no wonder we’re one of the most popular fruits in the world!
Now, botanists call me a pome (no, they’re not being rude to an Aussie apple). It’s their scientific name for the way I grow; for example, I don’t have a woody layer surrounding my seeds like apricots and peaches. It comes from the French word pomme which means apple.
I grow on a lovely tree with spreading branches – great for climbing. In spring, the trees are covered with pretty white blossom from which apples grow once the flowers have been pollinated by insects. We continue to grow right through the summer and mature in autumn and early winter when we’re ready to be picked for you to eat. You can read more about this in How Apples Are Grown and Harvested.
Just like you we come in all shapes, sizes and colour of skin, which can range from green, yellow, orange-red to dark red. When you bite into us you’ll find differences between varieties too. Our flesh can range from green, to creamy-white or greenish-white and we also have different tastes depending on how much sugar or acid we contain.
In Australia we’re available all year round – depending on our variety and where we grow.
Australia has many different varieties of apples, the most popular being:
Red Delicious Apple
I’m a conical (cone) shaped apple with a greenish-yellow background covered with red stripes. I have a firm, crisp, creamy-white flesh with a sweet juicy, highly aromatic flavour.
I’m a small to medium round apple with a deep red skin which has faint, deep red stripes. I have a fine grained, juicy white flesh with a sweet acid flavour and I’m great eaten out of hand.
Granny Smith Apple
I’m a round, conical shaped apple with a rich green skin. I have a crisp, firm, juicy, greenish-white flesh with a distinctive acidy flavour, which makes me excellent for cooking.
I’m a medium to large, round to conical shaped apple with a glossy, striped red blush over yellow coloured skin. I have a sweet flavour with pale cream, crisp, juicy flesh.
I’m a medium to large, flat-round apple with a bold red blush which overlays green to yellow coloured skin. I have a distinct, sweet flavour and firm, juicy, white flesh.
Pink Lady Apple
I’m a medium, round-oblong shaped apple with yellow skin overlaid with a pink to light red blush. I’m a cross between a Golden Delicious and Lady Williams, which makes me excellent for eating out of hand as I have a crisp, fine, sweet tasting flesh.
Golden Delicious Apple
I’m a medium to large, round to conical shaped apple with a pale green to yellow coloured skin with creamy-green, crisp flesh. I have a pleasant sweet flavour and good aroma. I’m great for eating out of hand or I can be used for cooking.
I’m a medium to large, flat-round to round shaped apple with a blushed dull red to crimson colour with firm, dense flesh. I have a high water and sugar content which makes me a juicy apple and my distinctive honey-sweet flavour is wonderful in stews and bakes.
Gala Apple (Royal Gala)
I’m a medium, round shaped apple. My skin colour varies slightly depending on which strain I belong to and can range from a pale, golden yellow with slight red blush, to solid brightly red blushed. I have a crisp, dense flesh with a flavour sweeter than a Delicious Apple.
Apples taste terrific that’s for sure but there are more reasons to eat us than just our flavour. We’ll actually help keep you strong and healthy so that you can do all the things you want to do – like play sport, have fun, climb apple trees. You see we contain lots of goodies to help grow well, keep your skin clear of zits, make your hair look great to name just a few of ways we look after you. For example, we contain:
• A dietary fibre called pectin that has some amazing skills – it can dissolve in water and can also encourage good bacteria to live in your bowel
and fight off any bad bacteria that try to settle there.
• A mineral called boron which helps your bones stay strong and healthy – important for climbing apple trees!
• Lots of antioxidants – substances which help protect your body against disease.
• Vitamin C – an apple supplies a quarter of your day’s vitamin C needs.
• 100g apple has 240 kJ
In Australia we’re harvested between January and October each year depending on our variety and where we are grown.
Most apple trees are grown from cuttings taken from healthy trees of the fruit variety the farmer wants. These cuttings are then grafted to the roots of other apple trees (rootstocks) which are really good at growing – for example, they resist temperature extremes, pests and diseases. However, the fruit grown on these trees will be of the same variety as those from which the cuttings were taken. This method of combining the good characteristics of two trees helps the grower to gain both a strongly growing and good fruiting tree to maximise the crop. An apple tree will start to bear fruit at about 3 years of age, depending on the variety.
The colour of the fruit, ease of picking and firmness tells you when an apple is ready to be harvested. Currently, apples for the fresh market are picked by hand as mechanical harvesters can damage the fruit and the trees.
Apples bought out of season will have been ‘cool stored’, which means stored in a cool environment where the oxygen levels have been slightly adjusted. This slows the natural maturing process so that apples can be kept for several months and still maintain their quality.
Select those of us with a firm, smooth skin which has the characteristic colour for our variety.
Store us in the refrigerator not at room temperature; this way we will maintain our crispness for up to 1 month.
Did you know that apples are an ancient fruit? We’re so old that we’re even mentioned in the Bible as the ‘fruit of knowledge’. We don’t really know when man first bit into the flesh of a juicy apple and decided it was delicious but we do know they were popular with Stone Age people over 3000 years ago. How do we know this? Well, the charcoal remains of apples have been found in the ruins of Stone Age villages in Europe.
Where apples originated is still a mystery, but most historians think it was near the Caspian Sea in the Middle East. We do know that the Egyptians loved apples – maybe Cleopatra munched on one while she chatted to Julius Caesar. Apples certainly became very popular in Rome and Greece, where they were used as symbols of love.
The Roman army liked apples so much that they took the fruit with them when they marched off to conquer Britain. The apple cores were thrown away and so apple trees began to grow wherever the army went throughout Europe.
The pilgrim fathers took apples with them when they set off from England for America; and Captain Phillip made sure he had plenty of apples and apple seed on board when he set sail for Australia in 1788. The first apples to be grown in Australia were planted by those early colonists.
We’re great eaten raw and are ideal for school lunch boxes and snacks. You can bake, stew or microwave apples, then turn us into pies, tarts, crumbles and fritters.
Here are some wonderful ways to cook with your favourite apples:
Peel, core and slice two apples. Prepare a packet butter cake according to directions, pour half the mixture into the cake tin, arrange apple slices evenly and top with remaining mixture. Bake according to directions allowing an extra 5-8 minutes.
Peel, core and slice 6-8 apples. Place apples in a lightly buttered baking dish with a 1/4 cup caster sugar and 2 tablespoons of sultanas. Top with toasted muesli and bake until apples are tender.
Yummy Apple Salad
Wash, core and roughly chop apples. Drizzle with lemon juice to prevent browning. Place in a bowl with sliced celery, lettuce , pecan nuts and toss with your favourite salad dressing.