Farmers and food manufacturers have been looking for ways to make apple-flavoured apples in a way that is cheaper than traditional apples, with the potential to become a staple in Ireland’s market.
A team of academics led by the University of Limerick has spent years working on a technique that can make apples with the right flavour, making them affordable for farmers and making them easier to buy in Ireland.
The team, which includes Professor Brian Walsh, Professor David McNamara and Dr Liam O’Donovan, has now published a paper on how they have developed their new technique.
“The key is to remove all the sugars from the apples and just make them apple-like,” said Professor Walsh.
“You can see the fruit develop very rapidly.
It’s not like making an apple with caramel sauce.
It will be very much apple-y.”
A traditional apple-farming operation can produce a batch of apples for €1,500.
The new method has been tested on apples that are already on sale in Ireland and it is being tested with other apples, including a variety of apple varieties that are being sold for a similar price.
It was developed in collaboration with the University’s apple farm unit, which produces the highest quality apples in Ireland, including the most widely-used variety, the Pears, and has the most extensive research on how to make these apples.
“I think the results are very good,” said Dr McNamara.
“We’ve actually got more apples now than we did a few years ago.
It is fantastic to see how this can be applied to other fruit varieties, like strawberries and grapes.”
What is very exciting is the fact that you can actually make them with a relatively simple technique.
It does involve some specialised equipment and some high-end equipment but it’s not as time consuming as it is for other types of farming.
“Dr Walsh said the team had found that making apple-based apples was a “no-brainer” because of their cost.”
In the last 10 years or so, apple prices have gone up dramatically and we need a lot more apples,” he said.”
A lot of apples are grown in low-lying areas and there is no way you can get them locally because of the cost of production.
“But with this new technique, you can have a very low-cost, very good-quality product and it will make a very big difference to people’s lives.”
“You are going to get more and more apples to the market in the next five or 10 years and they are going in really good shape.”
People will buy them as a regular crop.