I love apples. When I was a kid, my family had a countryside getaway house with a sizeable orchard, and I was always impatient for the first apples of the season to ripen. Even now a ripe, crunchy and slightly tart apple is one of my ultimate comfort foods.
Hence no wonder this piece of news caught my eye today. A Swiss gardening and plant breeding company Lubera has created a new breed of apple that tastes… sparkling. The enthusiastic production manager Robert Maierhofer, who discovered the fruit on an accidentally cross-bred tree in the orchards, describes it as the sensation of a fizzy drink – when the CO2 bubbles hit your tongue.
A fizzy apple doesn’t actually sound that fun – after all, when fruit ferments, micro-organisms do produce actual carbon dioxide, but one would not want to eat an apple that’s reached this stage.
However, the mouth feeling this new sparkling apple produces doesn’t actually involve any fermentation. Instead, according to Maierhofer, the relatively large cells in the flesh of the apple release juices as you bite into it, creating a burst of ‘effervescence’. If true, that’s quite interesting.
After all, the size of cells in fruit does determine a variety of factors, such as texture and size. In some fruit, like citrus, the cells that comprise the edible part are really large (they’re called ‘vesicles’), and the thin membranes mean that juice flows readily. However, I’ve never given much thought to the different cell sizes in apples. They seem to be mostly implicated in the size of the apple variety.
The company notes that their sparkling apple is unlikely to become a commercial success, because the fruit doesn’t grow uniform in size. Instead, you can buy a sapling and grow it in your own garden.
Which makes me lament the narrow and incredibly boring limits that mass consumption has imposed on apple varieties available in shops. These days all you can buy are the thick-skinned, shiny, uniformly shaped, predictable apples. Nothing lopsided, thin-skinned, interesting, unusual or, for that matter, sparkling.
If you grew up with an orchard, you know the difference.