This evening I took the kids to the fruit market for a stock-up. They got to choose what we bought, as usual, with the normal stipulation that it be W.A grown and in season. At this time of year that’s pretty easy. Mangoes! Cherries! Apricots! Watermelon!!
How about that bigger-than-my-head bag of mangoes, Mummy?
And, amongst all the wonderful fruit of this time of year, four Fuji apples.
I know, not in season and probably not West Australian. And it was kind of odd seeing Fujis, as last I knew they weren’t one of the longest-keeping apples so I was a bit wary. Apples however are very good for taking in school bags in a way that watermelon and cherries aren’t, so I don’t mind having a couple. Fujis are one of my favourite flavours of the various apples commonly available, though now that I’m back in Sundowner country they do have competition. So I looked them over closely to see their condition before accepting the two-year-old’s choice (he’d put several in the trolley while I was off looking at the watermelon).
Their texture was good – the sense of firmness, the ratio of moisture to mass to volume all suggesting a crisp eating texture rather than floury or softening (something that put me off Red Delicious apples for the rest of my life). So they were going to be fine. But they were going to need washing. There were white markings, some kind of coating, over the outside of the apple, and black creases within the apple skin in the dip around the stem.
It’s funny what you remember. A long time ago, at least three lifetimes now it feels like, I brought a guest into the studio of the radio station where I was doing an afternoon easy listening show. Summer, relaxed, most of the staff on holiday, my entire brief was “nothing too serious, with music”. My guest was an apple picker who loved Cuban music and Cleo apples, and for his hour he talked about the yearly rhythm of apple orchards and played great beats. Among the many things he described was the marks apples get when they’re sprayed with calcium for storage. He was quick to add that apples normally have plenty of naturally-occurring calcium, but they lose it as they sit in storage which is what causes the softening and wrinkling. Calcium sprays prevent the changes in texture that caused me to eat only green apples for most of highschool, and allow apples to be kept for a better (and longer) supply. But they do have side effects, one of them being the marks around the stem. The marks I was seeing in the apple in my hand.
Which explained how I could be holding a Fuji apple in December.
I shrugged, and let the two-year-old add another couple.