We’ve all heard the notion that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” and it’s fair to say that the apple is one of the most popular fruits out there. After all, they are easy to eat, you can grab one on the go, and they are pretty darn delicious! But how many different types of apples have you seen before? When you make your way to the grocery store or the farmer’s market, you’ve probably only seen the likes of red and green apples. However, it seems as though there are even more varieties, colors, shapes, and sizes. Yes, there are more apples in the world than we can count, and these $7 black apples have recently taken the world by the storm. The only problem is that most farmers are refusing to grow them, and for a good reason…
An apple a day
When was the last time you ate an apple? You probably don’t need to think back too far, because apples are a staple fruit in our society. You can find them in every grocery store; you can pick them straight off the tree; and you can even mix them into pies, cakes, pastries, and more.
The world may be our oyster, but the world is also our apple – and we certainly take advantage of this. However, there’s a high chance that you’ve only really experienced the taste of red or green apples. These are the most common apples in existence, and they can normally be found anywhere in the world. But what if someone offered you the chance to eat a $7 black apple?
The legacy of the apple
Apples and apple trees can be traced back thousands of years. In fact, it’s been noted that the Ancient Greeks and Romans would feast on apples and would grow them within their towns and cities, but the history doesn’t stop there.
Thanks to new evidence and research, historians have been able to trace the apple back to 6,500 BCE, and this fruit has since wormed its way into stories, society, and popular culture. Adam and Eve enjoyed the forbidden fruit of the Garden of Eden; Henry VII of England would eat hogs with apples in their mouths; Robin Hood would pierce apples with his bow and arrow; and the shape is now reminiscent of a major technology brand. The legacy of the apple is legendary.
Different shapes and sizes
Of course, like many other fruits and vegetables, apples come in different varieties, shapes, and sizes. It’s been noted that there are a whopping 7,500 different varieties of apple grown across the globe, and 2,500 of these are grown within the United States.
While many countries do have the ability to grow apples, the pleasure lies largely with farmers in the U.S, Italy, Turkey, Poland, and China. For the most part, these apples are green, red, or a mixture of both. However, there are a few apples that take a step away from the norm. These have either been naturally or artificially grown, and they have intrigued consumers for many years thanks to their unusual colors, taste, or shape.
Apples have always been known for being round or heart-shaped, but one Chinese company has decided to play around with this notion and bring their customers something new. Fruit Mould Co. use grow their fruits and vegetables in a natural environment, but they decide to lend a helping to give their produce the star quality.
In the initial growing stages of the apple, they place a square mold around the fruit. Because of this, the apple has to grow in a square shape because it has nowhere else to go. It only has the option to grow within the mold, and that’s exactly what it does. It’s believed that this shape allows for better storage and transportation.
Another weird and wonderful apple to add to this list is the Redlove apple. We have a Swiss farmer by the name of Markus Kobelt to thank for bringing this beautiful apple hybrid into the world, and he did that by cross-pollinating scab-resistant and red-fleshed plants.
This created an intriguing apple that is not only red on the outside but also red on the inside. Normally, apples always have white flesh, no matter the color on the outside. For this apple, though, Markus knew that he wanted to bring something to the table. He has since trademarked his creation and is selling them across the world. Would you give the Redlove apple a go? Well, what about the black apple?
The Black Diamond
It should come as no surprise to learn that the black apple is black in color, but they have also been given the mysterious name of the “Black Diamond.” That’s because these apples are extremely rare, and getting your hands on one isn’t easy.
In fact, even if you do manage to locate one of these apples, you will have to part with $7 before you can give it a taste. However, you might want to try and find one before they go, because many farmers are refusing to grow them any longer.
The breed of apple
Although the Black Diamond apples are in a league of their own, they are actually a sub-species of the Hua Nia apple or the “Chinese Red Delicious.” While it’s not hard to stumble across the Hua Nia apple around Asia or the United States, it is hard to simply stumble across the black apple.
This is because they are only grown in one particular corner of the earth, and this destination isn’t roaring with tourist of trade. After all, when was the last time you went into the mountains of Tibet?
Up in the mountains
Yes, the Black Diamond apple has so far only been grown around 3,100 meters above sea level in Nyingchi, Tibet. They grow on trees almost identical to those that grow red and green apples, but the fruit these trees bear couldn’t be any more different to the ones we find in the supermarkets.
Instead of being pale or multi-colored, these apples have a deep purple skin that looks jet black from certain angles. Alongside this, the apples have a thicker skin that is waxier than any other apple in the world. This gleam makes them shine like diamonds on the trees.
Their unique coloring
According to Dandong Tianluo Sheng Nong E-Commerce Trade Co., Ltd, who have created a 50-hectare plot in the mountains of Tibet to grow these apples, the location of the apple trees aids the unique coloring.
During the day, the temperatures can soar and provide warmth and sunlight for the seedlings and growing apples. During the night, however, temperatures can often drop below freezing, meaning the apples have to adapt to the environment. The difference in temperature and the high levels of UV rays have allowed the apples to grow with a black skin.
A difference in taste
However, it seems as though the Black Diamond apple is not only different in its appearance. Those who have eaten this rare fruit have noted that the black apple also tastes very different from the red or green apple.
It’s believed that the thick skin and flesh of the apple means that it much crispier than the average Granny Smith or Pink Lady, and the taste of the apple is also much sweeter. This is because they are chock-full of glucose that gives it a perfectly natural and sweet taste.
Unfortunately, Black Diamond apples are not easy to grow. Because they are cultivated under such harsh and diverse conditions, they take much longer to grow than the average apple. While any other apple will take between 2-3 years to fully mature, the black apple could take up to 8 years to do this.
This is because the low temperatures stunt the growth of the apple. As if that wasn’t enough, Black Diamond apples are also checked with a fine-tooth comb in terms of their coloring before they are sold. Only 30% of all Black Diamond apples actually pass quality control.
A high price
Because Black Diamond apples are so rare, farmers and companies that grow this fruit are able to hike up their prices. Instead of selling their produce at local markets or grocery stores across the globe, they have chosen to sell their black apples in high-end grocery stores in Shenzhen, Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou.
Customers can buy these apples in gift baskets that include anything from 6 to 8 apples and will cost you just over $42 for the whole pack. However, these apples may not be around for much longer…
Black apples have not made their way into everyday society, which means that farmers cannot mass produce this fruit. Instead, they have to cultivate small crops in harsh conditions, which can be extremely expensive.
This, coupled with the fact that only a small portion of Black Diamond apples pass quality control means that they have to hike up the price to make a profit. This has given them a reputation, and they are now known as exclusive fruits for those who can shell out $7 for a single apple. After all, you can get a whole pound of apples in the United States for less than $2.
As if the production costs of the Black Diamond weren’t enough to put off potential growers, the conditions certainly have in the past. The Tibetan mountains are not easy to traverse, and many farmers find it impossible to make their way up the peaks every day to tend for their crops.
The weather can often be temperamental so far above sea level. While this is what makes for the perfect black apple, it is too much for many farmers to handle. In the end, they decide it’s just not worth it.
Still a mystery
Of course, the complications don’t end there. Because black apples are a relatively new addition to the modern market, they are still a mystery. Many people do not know what goes into growing these apples, how to market them, or who to sell them to.
After all, do we really need black apples? The mysterious circumstances surrounding these unusual apples means that they have not yet made their way across the globe and taken the world by storm. They are still relatively unknown to those who don’t live in Asia.
All a craze?
All of these factors beg the same question: Are Black Diamond apples really worth it? Is it all just a craze? Only a small portion of these apples are grown every year, and there’s very little chance of expansion unless more research is done into the growing conditions and the growing protocol for these black apples.
However, with many farmers refusing to grow these apples, could this mean that production stops altogether? We guess this still remains to be seen unless there is a big shake-up in the apple world anytime soon.
Taking a bite
There are many people around the world who would love to take a bite of the weird and wonderful Black Diamond apple. There’s no doubt about the fact that its appearance and unique taste is the ultimate selling point, but it seems as though these apples aren’t selling as well as they hoped.
Unless they drop their prices and figure out a way to bring more of these apples to the mass market, we can only assume these apples will remain part of high society in Asia.
If you’re in Tibet…
Black Diamond apples aren’t the only things worth coming to Tibet for, though. Apart from that land’s mesmerizing natural beauty, it also has rich and unique traditions when it comes to food. There’s no getting around it – if you visit Tibet you’re going to have some yak.
Found all across the Tibetan Plateau, these animals contribute a lot to the Tibetan kitchen. Yak meat is noted for being a particular delicacy, as is Tibetan yoghurt – made with yak milk, naturally! Not hungry? Try traditional butter tea, made with yak butter.
News of the Black Diamond apples, which have gone viral on the internet recently, has Western apple growers in two minds. Since detailed information about them is still hard to come by, some members of a fruit growers’ forum have stated they didn’t believe these apples actually existed.
Others, meanwhile, have conceded that they may well exist, but said they thought photos were retouched to make them appear darker than they are in reality. This debate will likely rage on until they can be found in the West more regularly.
An uphill battle
Even if, and when, they’re found in your local supermarket’s produce section, would you eat one? Reading so far, you might answer with an emphatic “Yes!” but science actually says otherwise.
As a species, humans eat with their eyes, but that’s not just limited to having our mouths water at the sight of the big juicy steak on our plates. In fact, a food’s color is one of the more important cues influencing our desire – or lack thereof – to eat it.
All in the color
Simply put, would you drink brown tomato juice? Rationally, you might be aware of the fact that tomatoes go darker as they ripen, and that natural tomato juice is more brownish red than deep scarlet, but would you drink it? Probably not.
To put things more generally, if a food veers too wildly from what we’re used to, or is the “wrong” color, we tend to see it as much less desirable. Some colors, such as brown and black, just have a negative connotation to most people.
Was Arkansas there first?
The Chinese Black Diamond apples aren’t the only ones in the category. Despite the fact customers may not necessarily see black apples as attractive, Arkansas farmers have been cultivating them since at least the middle of the 19th century.
While they’re a very dark red before being picked, they grow even darker as they ripen and continue doing that in storage, eventually making for one of the darkest apples widely available. And you could even grow them yourself, as they’re much less high maintenance than their Chinese brethren.
The other black apple
Of course, if you have a green thumb you may have thought “black apples” referred to something else entirely. Pouteria australis, known less officially as a black apple or black plum, is a tree that can be found in New South Wales, Australia, as its name suggests.
Looking at it, this plant’s fruits do resemble plums more than they do apples, but they’re also delicious. If you ever come across one, you should definitely give it a try, and it’ll probably cost you less than $7.
The $6,000 watermelon
Of course, if you have a few thousand dollars just burning a hole in your pocket, why not try the Densuke watermelon, available – where else? – in Japan. Just to start with, only 10,000 of them are produced in a year, so you know they’re not going to be found in the bargain section.
The Japanese people must have skipped the lesson about how black is undesirable in food colors, and prize this watermelon for its solid black rind. Don’t have $6,000? You could get a Chinese square watermelon for “only” $800.
New car or two melons
Of course, seven bucks for an apple seems like a trifle compared to paying the equivalent of the price of a new car for two melons. At a recent auction in Japan, two Yubari King melons sold for $27,600 – that’s almost $14,000 per melon!
What’s so special about them? Well… Not much, really. They’re said to be sweeter than regular melons, but otherwise we’re not entirely sure why people in Japan are willing to pay so much for them.
The famous English fruit… Pineapple?!
The Chinese black apples aren’t the only fruit grown in a hostile climate, at least hostile to the fruit itself. You don’t have to be an expert horticulturist – a fancy word for gardener – to know that pineapples are a tropical fruit.
With that in mind, if there’s one place you don’t expect to find any pineapples, it’s England. But ever since the Victorian era in the 19th century, pineapples have been grown in special pits at the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall, a county in southwestern England.
Not for sale
Originally, pineapple pits were created for Victorians who wanted the fruit but had no way of getting it regularly in the age before international travel and commerce made importing food so simple.
Today, the Lost Gardens are a labor of love rather than necessity, and so their pineapples aren’t for sale. Incidentally, the second ever pineapple grown there was gifted to Queen Elizabeth, as the first was eaten by the growers themselves to make sure it didn’t taste funny. It’s assumed their pineapple would go for $13,000 at an auction.