There is a small community orchard close to where we live. Each summer, we watch the apple flowers blossom and wait for the fruit to grow. Then, in early September we pick a few of the low-hanging apples to see how they taste. This year, they tasted good!
But the trees in the orchard are quite tall and it can be tricky to reach the apples. Often, the children have to sit on our shoulders to reach up into the branches to get the fruit.
Apple trees are part of the rose family of plants. Over thousands of years of breeding and farming, more than 7,500 different types (or ‘cultivars’) of apples have been created but they all come from the same species: Malus domestica. They like to grow in sheltered, sunny places away from the cold and frost.
Apple trees can grow in all shapes and sizes. Bush trees, like the ones in our community orchard, can have up to 2m of bare trunk at the bottom with lots of branches spread out on top and reaching up into the sky. That’s why it can be hard to reach the fruit! And then there are ‘restricted’ types of apple tree, which are grown smaller in ornamental shapes in people’s gardens.
Apples are the fruits that come from these trees. Dessert apples can be eaten raw but cooking apples have to be cooked first otherwise they taste too sour. Some types of apple can be eaten raw or cooked; some are used to make an alcoholic drink called cider. Apples have a waxy skin, which can be red, pink, green or yellow in colour, and the flesh inside is usually a light yellowy-white colour.
Apples are a healthy food choice for humans because they contain vitamin C and fibre. My favourite kind of apple is the Granny Smith (and not just because that was my great-grandmother’s name). These apples come from Australia, where they were first cultivated by a lady called Maria Ann Smith. They have a hard, green skin and crunchy, juicy flesh which can sometimes taste a bit sour.
So, what’s your favourite kind of apple? And how do you like to eat yours?