I am not an “orchardist,” or a “pomologist” (someone who is schooled in the study and cultivation of fruit). I am just a lover of fruit (and fruit trees) – like so many folks – who is learning more and more as time goes on.
One thing I just learned is that apples develop their skin color in response to sunlight. (Okay, this may be obvious to many. Even most. But I hadn’t thought about it. I bare my ignorance so other nature troglodytes need not feel ashamed.)
This tidbit of information offers up a wonderful opportunity for fruit branding. That is, if the apple is shielded from sunlight throughout the bulk of its growing season (say by placing a bag over it – both protecting it from bugs and from the sun’s rays) then when the bag is removed toward the end of the growing season, the skin is a lustrous, pearly cream color. At that point, a small stencil can be placed on the apple so that all the rest of the apple now turns its rich deep color but the stenciled part stays white.
Remove the stencil once the apple is picked and voila! a naturally branded apple.
I am intrigued by the possibilities.
Studies are showing that children tend to eat more fruit if they are “branded” with familiar, friendly characters. (Studies were conducted with peel-off labels.) Branding can be a wonderful project for schools, allowing children from different grades and classes to run experiments seeking the best horticulture practices, all the while branding their apples so they can easily track which apples were part of which practice. Imagine what all these apples would look like at the school Science Fair when they were displayed for all to see.
Apples can also be branded to demonstrate local provenance, so people readily know where the apples come from. Or created for special celebrations (for those thinking far enough in advance), or with the apples’ names, just to teach which apple is which … the list is endless.
You can find an article that describes the process of apple branding – with photos – here.
I would love to hear your ideas about how we can use branded apples to promote the production, consumption, knowledge and overall enjoyment of local apples! Perhaps branding apples as part of the broad-based BOP orchard network can help boost local apple production and promote Baltimore as Orchard Country!