|Watercore in a Lady Apple. Click for close-up.|
You'd think juiciness would be a straightforward trait specific to each apple variety.
Coarse-grained apples, with large cells, hold more juice than fine-graned, smaller-cell breeds. Watermelon vs potato.
Sometimes however things get a little haywire and the tree forces water, tree-sap really, into the apple so fast that some of it ends up between the cells.
The sap is sweet with sorbitol, a kind of sugar alcohol, and maybe other sugars as well. It serves as a kind of tree antifreeze when the temperature drops.
I'm pleased to learn this, having previously noted a kind of heady alcoholic quality to some (not all) of the watercored apples I've had.
I can't say whether this is just the taste of the sorbitol or of some further process that takes place during storage.
Although watercore is considered a disorder, and in extreme cases can be disfiguring, it's not caused by any germ or other organism and is safe (and interesting) to eat.
In Japan apples with watercore are called "honeyed" and are delicacies that command a premium.
Nonetheless most Western growers seek to avoid watercore. Common advice is to monitor the apple crop and harvest whenever watercore first appears. Farmers sometimes forestall watercore by adjusting nitrogen and calcium fertilizers.
If not for these measures, we'd encounter this condition more frequently than we do.
It's not always an improvement, especially when it upsets a well-balanced apple or overwhelms flavors that are especially harmonious.
I've been enjoying it in Lady Apple but regretting it in Cox's Orange Pippin.
Have you ever found watercore in apples? Did you like it?