Sunday, March 8, 2015

In praise of rubbery apples

Rubbery beats mealy.

Most apples grow mealy after enough time in storage, or in poor storage, and who likes that? Some sooner than others, some more and some less.

Even staunch Arkansas Black starts to go a little granular by April.

Yet a few apples take a different tack as they age. Varieties like Gold Rush and Esopus Spitzenberg keep their crunch and grow distinctly elastic.

In storage, water expires from apples through the pores of the fruit, those decorative spots called lenticels.

Over time the stickum holding individual apple cells together can dry out, weaken, and deteriorate.

Even modern storage technologies can only slow this decline.

It's the cleaving of cell from cell that makes an apple's crunch. An apple with weak cellular glue will come apart mid bite into a mealy mass.

Gold Rush, a mad keeper, seems to hold things together regardless. It has a great crunch well into the spring, even without any fancy storage.

Instead of mealy, Gold Rush shows its age by growing progressively elastic. There's a little give in every bite before the crunch.

I surmise this is the result of water's expiration over time. A fresh Gold Rush (or Spitzenberg) does not flex like this.

Mealy apples can still be flavorful, good for many cooking uses if not for eating.

Lady Alice also has a little flexible give to it at times.

Rubbery sounds bad but it's really not, and it beats the mealy alternative in every way.

It's just another twist on texture.


  1. Apples going mealy and granular is a real problem here in Australia - we have long storage in cool rooms that means it is increasingly hard to get new season fruit - your images are really amazing - keep up your good work!

    1. Thanks for the virtual fruit basket, Brendon! I don't image mealy is much of a problem is Australia this time of year, is it?

  2. I agree with you about preferring rubbery apples over mealy ones. When they are rubbery they remind me a little of the texture of dried apple rings and I like those. But if I bite into an apple and discover it is mealy it's likely to get thrown away immediately. The only use I've found for mealy apples is grating them and adding them to a pot of butternut squash soup.

  3. Nina, Texture is really important for fresh fruit, and mealy is the absolute worst. So maybe this is too obvious.

    I just found myself using the word "rubbery" to describe some older apples and thought, That sounds really bad, who would eat rubber?

    But it wasn't bad, it was a way these apples had retained some integrity in storage.


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