An Apple A Day

      April 12th, 2008

Ever wonder why your local supermarket has fresh apples all year round? To tell you the truth, I haven’t really, but on a recent trip up to visit some friends, I ended up in apple country. Endless apple orchards as far as the eye could see.

One night we got to talking and for some reason the topic of preservation came up. You see, apples aren’t in season right now, as we looked through the window all we saw were scraggly naked apple trees. As is the case with a lot of things, oxygen is no friend when it comes to the preservation of fruits and vegetables. Leave a cut apple out on the table, it turns brown. Many a fine sliced avocado has lost its rambunctious green from a little too much O2 time.

The initial idea was to minimize this exposure. So the apples were packed in airtight storage halls. The apples then sucked up the remaining oxygen and converted it into carbon dioxide. A lack of oxygen and a bit of carbon did a pretty decent job of preserving apples.

And yet, in our increasingly competitive world where a price differing in the amount of a few cents can make all the difference, pretty good was not good enough. So, nowadays, instead of letting the apples go to work on their own, the storage halls are filled with nitrogen to initally reduce the amount of oxygen. They call it “Controlled Atmosphere” storage.

Fun fact: Say you were to stumble upon one such storage facility and were like, “Hmmm, what’s in here?” Apparently, you’d be able to take about two steps before collapsing and well, instantly dying. This is no joke, and though this is unlikely to happen since such locations are well-secured, several people do die this unfortunate death. That’s right, suicide. What would you think about showing up at your local supermarket and seeing a little sign next to the apples saying, “A man committed suicide in the facility in which these apples were stored. Enjoy.”

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Filed under: Environment, Food, Safety by A.B.

One Response to “An Apple A Day”

  1. […] factual tidbits during my research. Apparently, winemaking has a few things in common with apple preservation. As discussed in “Principles and Practices of Winemaking” by Boulton, Singleton, […]

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