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Apricots »« Apples: Red Delicious

Apples Royal Gala

Malus domestica


Description

Everybody loves a fresh, crispy apple. Whether it’s a quick snack or the basis of a delicious baked treat, apples are one of the most easily available and popular types of fruit out there.

There are more than 7000 known cultivars or subspecies of apples, with different cultivars developed for different climates and purposes. Many have been developed for eating, others for cider, others for cooking, and still others for disease resistance, yield, ease of shipping, and flavour. Most apples we buy in the supermarket are developed to give the best commercial return, but some older, more unusual varieties can sometimes be found through independent growers.

A ‘sport’ or mutation of Gala apples, Royal Gala is a relatively small apple, with striped skin that’s usually red with some yellow or green tinges. Typically, they have a crispy texture and reasonably sweet flavour that can sometimes be a bit bland; often, this happens when they’ve been bought out of season.

Apples will give you some vitamin C, but their real value is in their fibre content. Fibre plays a very important role in bowel health, reducing the risk of colon cancer, and it also helps lower cholesterol by preventing re-absorption. Apples are a good source of antioxidants, which may help prevent other types of cancer as well.

Choose firm apples with good colouring. The colour on a Royal Gala can help indicate its age: a pale apple is probably newly picked, whereas a dark apple has either spent a bit longer on the tree or it’s spent some time in a cold store. Avoid apples with bruising or weeping patches – they’ll destroy your fruit bowl, and a bruised apple will give off more ethylene gas, ripening the rest of your fruit too quickly. They’ll keep for quite a while in the fridge, but are best fresh.

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History

The apple tree may well have been the first fruit tree to be cultivated. Originating in or around Turkey, over the centuries thousands of varieties have been developed through cross-pollination.

Apples have long played a role in the culture of human civilisations: they’re associated with the Forbidden Fruit in the Bible story of Adam and Eve, although the fruit itself is never actually mentioned; in Ancient Greece it was considered to be sacred to the goddess Aphrodite; and in Norse mythology they’re connected to fertility and everlasting youth.

The Gala and its sports were developed in New Zealand in the 1930s from a cross between a Golden Delicious and a Kidd’s Orange Red, which itself is the result of a crossing between a Red Delicious and Cox Orange Pippin. A plant patent was obtained in the United States in 1974, and was first planted commercially in the United Kingdom in the 1980s, where it now makes up about a fifth of the commercial production of eating apples.

Uses

Royal Gala apples are cultivated as an eating apple, so are best eaten fresh or juiced. They’re a great addition to salads, with balsamic vinegar and perhaps a cheese like feta to cut through the sweetness.

Facts

At the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, apples are eaten with honey for a sweet new year.

Apples are high in pectin, and a lot of jam sold commercially is gelled using pectin from apples.

Like blackberries and raspberries, apples are a member of the rose (Rosaceae) family.

Ever bobbed for apples at Halloween? The tradition comes from a Pagan new year ritual, in which the first to catch an apple in their teeth was said to be the next to marry.

If you cut an apple in half crosswise, the core makes the shape of a five-pointed star.



Apricots »« Apples: Red Delicious

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