Apple technology is behind other manufacturers
An apple a day should keep you healthy - at least according to the proverb. Today, however, apples are not about the "inner values" - above all, they have to look flawless. In addition, there are only a handful of varieties on offer in our supermarkets. What's in Braeburn, Royal Gala or newer apple varieties like Pink Lady? And are there any old varieties at all? Television writer Tim Boehme has dealt with these questions. In an interview with NDR.de, Boehme reports what he found out.
How did you come up with the idea of making a film about apples?
Tim Boehme: I live in the contryside. When I sit in the garden, I look directly at an old apple orchard. There are 60 trees from over 30 varieties. These are more varieties than can be found in any supermarket. There are more than 2,000 apple varieties in Germany, but perhaps ten still play an economic role in trade.
The old garden lay fallow for years. Only a few horses that grazed there were interested in the apples, as well as a few boy scouts every now and then. But then a friend of mine leased the apple orchard. At his last harvest party, I asked myself: Why do we hardly ever find these old apple varieties in the supermarket?
Experts say that when buying apples, customers pay attention first to the price, second to the price, and third to the appearance. Why is that a problem?
Boehme: In my experience, the most important thing about the apple is how it looks for the customer. So shape and color count in the supermarket. Only then do the taste and aroma come. While filming, I saw a customer looking at ten apples one at a time before deciding on one.
"Polyphenols as such have a health value, they are not only antioxidants, but they also have, for example, a blood sugar-lowering effect in higher concentrations, antimicrobial properties have been determined and if you breed these ingredients out of the apple, then you have paid a price for it, because the apple is then a beautiful shell, but the content no longer matches the shell. "
Prof. Reinhold Carle, food chemist at the University of Stuttgart
And because only the appearance counts, important phytochemicals that lower blood sugar and are healthy are ignored. Sometimes they are even purposefully bred away. Polyphenols, for example, are healthy, but they also cause the pulp to brown after cutting. One likes to avoid this property in breeding.
Where do most of the apples in the supermarket come from?
Boehme: Many of the modern varieties are derived from the Golden Delicious variety. It is very productive, but unfortunately also very susceptible to pests and apple scab fungi. Without chemical help, this strain is not viable at all, so it is sprayed. But because it is so fertile, it has now been bred into most modern strains. At Jonagold you can already hear the relationship in the name. But the popular Pink Lady is also a Golden Delicious child.
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Do you know how long an apple in the supermarket has traveled around the world?
Boehme: No. An apple price tag in the supermarket only says where it comes from. As a customer, you can neither tell the harvest date nor how it was stored. So theoretically it could be a year or older. But after twelve months at the latest, the apple stores are needed for the new harvest. Even if a stored apple looks exactly like a freshly picked apple in summer, the inner values are no longer comparable.
How long do the healthy ingredients such as vitamins, magnesium and iron actually last after picking?
For example: after just two to three months, the vitamin C content is reduced by around half. And the aroma is often quite pale after long storage. The apples are put into a kind of "artificial coma" and that is often not so good for the taste.
What about the so-called club apples that you show in your film?
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Boehme: Club varieties are modern and often more expensive apples, such as Pink Lady or Rubens. Actually, club apples are usually no longer real varieties, but branded products such as Coca-Cola or Mars. Because they often only differ when it comes to marketing a variety that is already known. It is the same with Pink Lady, for example: Cripps Pink is the original name of the variety. As a Pink Lady, the apples have only enjoyed a special sorting and marketing, but are in reality identical to Cripps Pink - only more expensive, but with sexy names.
However, other club varieties are protected new varieties based on other varieties. But very often there is also Golden Delicious in there. The range of club varieties is kept tight so that the price remains high. Apples should become a lifestyle product, that is the trend. By the way, fruit growers who want to grow a club apple actually have to join a club.
Would you eat supermarket apples like that?
Boehme: Why not if I'm hungry? But I prefer the Braeburn variety from the supermarket - not a club variety. These apples do not tolerate "SmartFresh" [a chemical preservation product, editor's note. Red.] And come from a random seedling, which I find likeable.
But because of the work on the film, I am now much more conscious of eating apples. I used to just eat them away in the summer. Apple was apple and ready. Now in autumn I enjoy the many different flavors that still exist in my friend's old apple orchard. Fresh from the tree, they just can't be beat.
The interview was conducted by Sugárka Sielaff.
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Consumers want their apples crisp and smooth - all year round. Chemistry can do that. At the same time, the many old varieties are being pushed off the shelves. more
This topic in the program:
45 min | 08/28/2017 | 22:00 O'clock
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