Authors: Registered Dietitians
(HealthCastle.com) The annual UBC Apple Festival was held 2 weekends ago. While the torrential downpours may have kept you away, you can still take part in the biggest announcement of the festival just by heading down to your local grocery store. On Saturday, Ron Cannan, the MP for Kelowna-Lake Country, announced that Canada has a new apple, created right here in BC. The new apple is called the Salish, and it is already available at local grocery stores.
So what’s a Salish apple - and how is a new apple created in the first place? Good questions!
What’s a Salish Apple - And How Was it Created?
The Salish apple is described as “tangy, juicy, and very crisp.” It is medium in size and is pink and red with a hint of yellow. It’s a late-harvest apple and should store well, with a long shelf life.
This new apple was created in the Okanagan by scientists with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in partnership with the Okanagan Plant Improvement Corporation. It was developed from a cross of Splendour and Gala apples using cross-pollination - a natural technique used for all Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada varieties.
It takes a long time to develop a new apple - at least 20 years! The initial cross of Splendour and Gala that led to the final Salish apple was made way back in 1981. Since then, scientists at the Pacific Agri-Food Centre in Summerland have been developing and testing the apple, which until Saturday went by the rather clinical name of SPA493. Here’s what scientists and growers have been working on during that time:
- The seedling stage: 25,000 to 30,000 different types of trees are planted in test orchards, with only one tree of each type, for an initial screening. Each year, thousands of new trees are added, with the inferior ones removed.
- The second selection stage: Less than 1% of the initial seedlings are chosen for this stage and are re-propagated. That means there are about 400 types of trees left, with four to ten of each type planted in test orchards.
- On-farm testing: A maximum of five of the best cultivars are tested in commercial orchards. Each grower has a minimum of five and a maximum of several hundred trees.
During development, researchers use “sensory evaluation panels” to evaluate taste, texture, and appearance. Basically, this means that in addition to selecting for apples that grow well in the local environment, they also want to make sure they develop apples people actually want to buy and eat!
Where to Buy Salish Apples
According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Salish apples will be available at “select retailers” this fall season. We spotted them at the IGA on West Broadway (at Vine) on Monday. They should be available at several IGA, Choices, Urban Fare, and Whole Foods locations, as well as at the Granville Island Market (at Four Seasons Farms and The #1 Orchard). You can find the full list of locations where Salish apples are available here.
There are already 15 orchards growing Salish apples, so look for them to be more widely available next year.
Photos courtesy of Christina Newberry.
Tell us: Have you tried the Salish apple yet? What do you think?