Gala Performance

The first apples from the new southern hemisphere season are appearing in shops. Royal Gala is always the earliest to arrive, so, with shelves still full of British, French, German and Italian Gala from the harvest last August, is there a difference?

Argentinian organic Royal Gala in Sainsbury’s was the first that I’ve seen on sale from the new season, and I compared it to British Royal Gala bought loose in Morrisons.

The two look slightly different: the Argentinian fruit has more pronounced striations and had a slight hint of yellow to the background colour. The British fruit was attractive, with finer striations and a very smooth skin.

On biting into the fruit, there was an immediate difference in texture: the British fruit was very hard and crunchy with a white-green flesh, while the Argentinian was slightly soft with a white-yellow flesh.

On flavour and sweetness, the Argentinian fruit was slightly more attractive with a hint of aromatics and a decent level of sweetness, while the British fruit had some sweetness, but lacked flavour.

The difference is all down to timing of harvest. Although the British fruit is 7 months old, modern storage techniques can effectively put apples into suspended animation. However, to ensure the best chance of success, the ‘strongest’ fruit are chosen for long-term storage, which often puts texture before sweetness at the time of harvest. Often, by happy coincidence, this peak texture will happen at the time of peak sweetness, but not in the case of this apple where the compromise in now obvious.

The Argentinian apple is obviously more mature, picked at a slightly later stage, hence the yellower flesh, better sweetness and aromatic flavour. This may have been intentional to catch the early markets in the northern hemisphere, but the consequence is the slight loss of texture.

This is a nice insight into the behind-the-scenes work of the apple industry, but unfortunately, neither approach has quite worked in this case.

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