This is apple harvest time in Minnesota, home of the Honeycrisp variety of apples, so loved by everyone who has tried one.
It seems to be a Fall for bumper crops of all apples, judging from the loaded branches of the apple trees on my street.
Apples are not only sweet and good tasting, but they are supposedly good for you, right? “an apple a day…” It’s sayings like this that have helped spread apple trees all over the world map. Originally native to Kazakhstan, this highly productive forest tree has spread around the globe — entirely due to human’s fondness for sweet tastes.
From Kazakhstan, apple seeds were dropped by traders along the Silk Road to Asia and to Europe, and eventually made their way to North America with the early colonists who planted apple orchards, spreading the apple genes throughout the northeast.
We humans perform much the same service that bees do in pollinating the apple’s flowers, helping spread the genes of the apple by planting their seeds everywhere. In return, like the nectar and pollen the tree supplies to its pollinators, it repays its seed dispersers (animal and human alike) with crisp, sweet fruit that lasts several months when stored properly at cool temperatures.
What is it that makes apples so delicious?
Around the star-shaped seed capsules are ten yellow-green dots that are the remnants of the flower stamens. The sepals (surrounding the petals of the flower) are at one end of the apple, and the flower stem (now fruit stem) is at the other. In between is the greatly expanded floral cup (called the hypanthium) that grows up and around the ovary housing the soon-to-be seeds, and filled with starch granules synthesized by the leaves over a summer’s worth of sunlight. At the end of the summer, those starch granules begin to break down to individual sugar molecules — and voila, sweet, juicy, crisp Fall apples are ready to be harvested.