“SmartFresh”: when your apple is one year old…

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In autumn, the apple harvest is in full swing. The apples on the supermarket shelves are at their crispest, and are one thing above all: naturally fresh. But even months later some apples look as good as new. How is that possible?

So that fruit remains presentable and tasty after it is harvested, it is stored under special conditions. One method used in conventional fruit farming is preservation using the synthetic molecule 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP), also known by its trade name “SmartFresh”. Apples treated with this gas still look freshly picked even months later. 1-MCP blocks the apple’s own ripening hormone ethylene and suspends the fruit’s natural ripening process. Flavour, size, fragrance and consistency are thus maintained. The consumer is no longer able to tell how old the apple they are being offered is. Was is picked a month ago, or even a year ago?

But the following also applies for treatment with 1-MCP: the longer the fruit is stored, the more it loses substances such as vitamin C and other nutrients.

Post-harvest treatment with 1-MCP does not have to be declared in Germany or in EU countries. For a long time, the use of 1-MCP also could not be detected through analysis because the gas is highly volatile. Now, there is a process which tests for a specific gene activity in apples. This gene activity is barely present or entirely absent in apples which have been treated with 1-MCP.

The use of the ripening inhibitor 1-MCP does not match the principles of organic farming and, accordingly, is not desirable and not permitted. We find: it’s another good reason to reach for an organic apple.

By the way: committed organic retailers will be able to test for 1-MCP from 2019.

Text: Visnja Malesic
Image: Getty Images
Version from: October 2018

You can find more about apples here:
Organic apples from overseas – environmentally friendly?

Greetings from Patagonia: Argentinian organic apples and pears

Apple Harvest Time with Hubert Bois

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