SPARTA, Mich. (WOOD) — How old is that apple?
Surprisingly enough, there is technology to store apples as long as a year.
The technology has been around for nearly a hundred years. It’s called controlled atmosphere. Farmers will seal the apples in a storage unit and will control the air inside to around 2 percent, compared to the air we breath which is about 21 percent oxygen.
“By pulling in the oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide, it’s taking the starches in the apple and turning them to sugars,” said Nick Schweitzer who oversees the operations at Schweitzer Orchards.
The process can also be slowed down in order to coax an apple into sticking around for a long time.
This enables farmers to sell apples at reasonable prices, allows people to enjoy apples year round, and stay competitive.
“If we sold them all at once in the fall the price would be rock bottom,” said Schweitzer.
The same technology used on the apples can also extend the life of fruits and vegetables which makes farming in Michigan a big business.
“Michigan is the second most diverse agricultural state in the union,” said Amy Irish-Brown of Michigan State University Extension. “We grow the second most diverse crops behind California.”
The big question remains: Does stored produce lose its nutritional value?
The answer is “no.”
“We put them in sleep mode and when they come out they’re just as good as when they went in,” said Irish-Brown.
Most varities actually get better as they age because the starches turn to sugars and make those apples even sweeter than when they were picked off the tree.