Fun Facts About Ambrosia Apples
Get to Know Your Favourite Apple a Little Better
You may think you know Ambrosia apples but here are a few fun facts you may not have heard.
Less Than Perfect
Can you imagine a world without Ambrosia apples? Well, if one farmer had been a perfectionist (or maybe just a little less busy) we wouldn’t have Ambrosia apples. You see, the Ambrosia apple was a chance seedling that popped up in a newly planted row in an orchard in Cawston, BC. If the farmer had noticed the little tree, it might have been chopped down. Farmers love to have clean rows! Luckily for the little sapling (and for us Ambrosia-lovers) it was overlooked long enough for it to grow up into a fruit-bearing tree. And, the rest is history.
The Mother Tree Lives
That very first Ambrosia apple tree still exists today. The ‘Mother Tree’ is now a large and somewhat gnarly tree that sits proudly in the orchard. It was out of place before (since it wasn’t part of the planned rows of trees) but now it really stands out as it is bigger than the other trees that surround it. Once upon a time, the orchard was full of Jonagold apples but now, the mother tree is surrounded by its babies – an orchard of Ambrosia apple trees.
Ambrosia apples may have originated in Canada but they are now grown on farms all over the world including Chile, New Zealand, Australia, Italy, and the United States. In fact, when you enjoy an Ambrosia apple in early September here in Canada, there’s a good chance it was grown in the Southern Hemisphere.
Isn’t That Brotherly
The Mennell brothers, Wilfrid, Brian, and Robert (and their partners) were all fruit farmers in the Similkameen at the time the Ambrosia apple was found. Once the brothers and their pickers tasted those first distinct Ambrosia apples, they knew they had something special. They had a sneaking suspicion that the rest of the world would love them as much as they did. Now there are hundreds of farmers operating thousands of orchard-acres filled with Ambrosia trees, all over the world.
Don’t Go By Colour
While for many apple varieties, their colour is the main indication of ripeness, farmers don’t go solely by colour, they have to test the starch level of Ambrosia apples in order to determine when they are perfectly ready for harvest and storage. Based on these tests, the expert can tell the farmer exactly when to start picking. The starch level also determines if the apples being picked are perfect for eating right now or more suitable for long-term storage. However, colour does play a role in determining harvest time. Ambrosia apples are a bicoloured apple with combination of distinctive rosy red and creamy yellow skin.
1 in 7500
There may be an estimated 7500 varieties of apples in the history of the planet. Ambrosia is a variety that was discovered (thanks to a chance seedling) back in the early 90’s. Since that time, there have been less than 30 new varieties added to the list of apples. So, is Ambrosia the best of the new apple varieties? At the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto an Ambrosia apple was declared the Grand Champion of New Varieties and awarded the Canadian Horticultural Council Trophy in both 2017 and 2018. After that, they retired the award. Perhaps it’s because Ambrosia is an unbeatable apple variety? Whatever the reason, Ambrosia remains the reigning champion of new apple varieties.
Want to learn even more about Ambrosia apples and how the came to be? Watch this video.