Apples and the science behind them

Crisp Michigan apples are ready for picking and eating. Let’s learn some plant science at the dinner table—apples edition!


Summer is just about over and a chill is in the air. As a native Michigander, this means it is apple season. Crisp Michigan apples are ready for picking and eating. It does not matter if you pick your own or just pick up a peck; Michigan apples are second to none for flavor and crispness.

Here are a few apple facts to snack on:

  • Apples are fruit called pomes (pomology is the study of fruit).
  • Pomes are fruit that have a "core" of several small seeds, surrounded by a tough membrane.
  • The membrane is encased in an edible layer of flesh.
  • Apple trees are deciduous (they lose their leaves) and have a dormant winter period that requires cold temperatures for the tree to properly break dormancy in spring.
  • Pome fruits are members of the plant family Rosaceae.
  • Michigan is the third largest producer of apples in the United States.
  • There are more than 11.3 million apple trees covering 35,500 acres of Michigan farm land.
  • There are 825 family-run apple orchards in Michigan.
  • According to the Michigan Apple Committee, there are no genetically modifies apples grown in Michigan.
  • More than 16 varieties of apples are grown in Michigan.
  • Paula Red, an early season apple, was discovered in Sparta, Michigan. This is my favorite apple for both eating fresh and cooking.
  • Jonagold was discovered in Europe, but tastes sweeter and grows better in Michigan because of our cool climate.

Apples have been extensively researched for their health benefits. This would lead me to believe the popular saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” This idiom is said to be of Welsh origin with the broad meaning that eating a healthy diet is good for you.

Here are a few healthy facts about apples:

  • Apples are very rich in fiber. A single medium-sized apple contains about 4 grams of fiber, about 17 percent of the recommended daily intake.
  • Some of their fiber content is made up of insoluble and soluble fibers called pectin.
  • The fiber in apples moderates blood sugar levels and is good for the colon.
  • Apples are not particularly rich in vitamins and minerals. However, they contain decent amounts of vitamin C and potassium.
  • Apples are a good source of several antioxidants, including quercetin, catechin and chlorogenic acid. These plant compounds are responsible for many of the health benefits of apples.
  • Research suggests regular consumption of apples may improve heart health and cut the risk of cancer.
  • Apples are low in calories.
  • Apples are good for your teeth. The fruit’s fleshy fiber helps scrub your teeth, gums and tongue.
  • The apple skin helps to remove stains from your teeth.

Visit a nearby orchard or farmers market and pick up a few delicious Michigan apples. While you are enjoying your fresh apples, check out the following website to learn more about Michigan’s favorite fruit.

  • Michigan Apple Committee—they have a variety of information on apples, apple recipes and kids activities including electronic games. The teacher’s kit is especially great for kids and is packed with lessons and activities for the classroom or fun with your family.
  • MSU Extension Apples—Apples are the No. 1 fruit crop in Michigan and they play an important role in our economy and agritourism. MSU Extension has extensive information on growing apples, pest management, harvesting, current research and experts to help commercial and backyard apple growers.

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