Apples are the ideal fruit to eat at any time, having a positive role in the achievement of nourish balance. Their skin may be green, yellow or reddish, and the meat taste ranges from a bitter to sweet flavour.
It is one of the most consumed fruit in the world. There is a great amount of varieties; thanks to that, apples are available all the year round.
Apples are, along with bananas and citrus, one of the most consumed fruit in the world. In the N hemisphere they are, with no doubt, the fruit of which there exists more plantations.
In the United Kingdom, the consumption per person a week is 175 g (according to National Food Survey 1996, quoted in Fresh Produce Desk Book 1988), representing an annual consumption of 9.1 kg. The German magazine "Der Mark - Obst und Gemüse 8/2000 " shows a table with the consumption of apples per inhabitant a year in the last 5 years. During the periods 1995/96, 1996/97 and 1997/98 the consumption was, respectively, 19.5, 19.7 and 19.4. For 1998/99 the provisional data quoted is 20.2 and for 1999/2000 the forecast is 21,9. According to these data there is a slight increase in the European consumption.
The apple has the advantage that it is easy to consume as table dessert, between hours, in school, in the office... Furthermore, it does not unbalance any slimming diet since it has a very low caloric content, less than 100 kcal.
In botanics, this type of fruit is denominated pomo. It is characterised because in its formation, along with the seeds and the ovary
, other parts of the flower take part. The central part is divided in five hollow compartments containing the seeds.
There exist multiple varieties of apples; they are distinguished by the shape of the fruit, rounded, elongate or flattened; by their colour, that varies from bright red to green; the colour of the pulp, its flavour - there are some apples in which sweetness predominates over acidity and some others, on the contrary, are very acid -; by the texture, that ranges from a very crisp to a mealy texture, although the latter may also be due to a storage problem; the period of maturation, the characteristics of the tree, suitability for storage, behaviour against diseases and pests, etc. Apples also defer in size, as much within the same variety as among varieties; the apples used for cooking are usually bigger than those for fresh consumption.
The period of harvest extends from the end of summer to the beginning of autumn, but apples are available all the year round thanks to their excellent storage characteristics- it can be stored for a long time if the appropriate techniques are applied. At present they are exported from the S Hemisphere. Apples may last up to 6 months if they are stored in normal air and up to 10 months under controlled atmosphere
. Nowadays, the consumer confers a ‘value’ to ‘fresh’ produce; transport facilities make it possible to find, all the year round, apples that have not practically been kept in storage rooms.
Apples are consumed as table dessert, whole or as part of fruit salads; they are also cooked whole, in purées or stewed; they are used in confectionery, preserved as purée or jam, dehydrated and used to process juice, cider and vinegar.
The appropriate texture for apples consumed as dessert must be substantial and crisp and the taste must be preferably sweet, whereas apples intended for processing are usually more acid. Apples for cider may be more astringent.
The apple pulp contains up to 25% of air lodged in the spaces between the cells; during processing, this air must be removed in order to avoid the spoiling of the produce.