The Japanese Art of Growing the Perfect Apple

APPLES, YUUUM! But looks aren’t everything and perhaps the price of these beautiful apples is that the taste is of secondary importance…Maybe? …I WANT ONE!!!

When ripe, some creamy white apples have silver mats placed under the trees to reflect the sun upward, tinting the bottom of the apples to match the top. Just for colour! Crazy yes, dumb no. Japanese culture has a vast and illustrious history strongly centred around food; They enjoy it.

Just like many other things, Japan doesn’t do its apple growing half ass. Rather than do it the same way as everyone else and just plant a tree, watch it grow and hose it down with pesticides; Japan’s turned apple growing into an art form, making everyone else look like uncultured blind men.

Burning Trimmed Branches – Spring – Aomori Prefecture

Photographer Jane Alden Stevens traveled to the Tsugaru region of Aomori prefecture in Japan to document the work of apple farmers:

Seen here are tools for hand-pollination including wands, gloves, and a bottle containing the pollen.

The intensive labor starts in spring with blossom thinning, in order to insure a larger fruit. Farmers climb ladders to carefully pluck the four outer blooms, leaving only the center one behind. Stevens writes:

“What amazed me most about the process that the Japanese use to grow apples was how labor-intensive it is. From the time a blossom is set, an apple can be touched by human hands at least ten times before it is harvested. When I asked why many farmers are cutting down their orchards and abandoning this method of raising fruit, some held their hands up, wiggled their fingers, and replied, “Not enough hands!”

Workers apply the pollen with wands tipped with ostrich feathers. A magenta dye is added to the pollen so workers can see which blossoms have been touched.


It’s as if they wrap the apples up in origami. So cool:

In June, while apples are still less than an inch around, imperfect fruit is discarded, and the best apples are bagged. The apple bags are made of a special opaque paper and lined with a translucent, colored wax paper.

The bags are wired shut so the apple receives no sunlight for three months or more. This keeps out pests, extends the storage life and flavor of the fruit, and leaves apples a creamy white color.

In the fall, farmers again climb the ladders to carefully remove the outer bag. “The color of the wax paper — red, green, light blue, dark blue — affects the fruit’s ultimate color,” Stevens says.

In early fall, workers remove the light-tight outer bags (seen in gray) from the apples, leaving on the translucent inner bags (seen in red) for a few days to toughen up the skin.

Sometimes, stencils are applied to the pale skin to leave impressions as the apples ripen.

Wow. Hand Pollination, origami covers and photogram calligraphy; these are the best looked after Apples on the planet! Labour intensive is an understatement to describe such a delicate process. All that needs to be said is, love is definitely in the details.

Nice job and thank you Rebecca Horne for first reporting this article.

~ by Fionnlagh on November 3, 2010.

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