Ever Wonder About How Many Apples There Are in BC? We Do!
One of the most commonly eaten fruits is the apple (other than the banana). In fact, the average Canadian eats approximately 86 apples a year.
This makes sense, considering that we have been introduced to apples from the moment we started eating solids. From that point onwards, we typically see apples in various food forms: in applesauce, fruit cups, in pies, in salads, and in juice. However, this seemingly simple fruit is varied more than in usage…but in the different types that occur in nature.
When you walk along the produce section of a grocery store or visit a farmer’s market, or even an orchard (if you are so lucky), you may be surprised to see that there are so many different variations and/or types of apples that exist; and that you should try!
Let’s breakdown some of the different apples that exist in BC and how it got here.
Canada and Apples Eh?
Being “king of fruits”, apples came to Canada because of French settlers in the Maritimes in the 1600’s. It was one of the species grown in Nova Scotia that ended up being “mainstream” and started being sold.
Thus, the apple industry in Canada was started. It then quickly moved to Ontario, New Brunswick, and Quebec. The fruits were even being exported to Great Britain by 1849. It was then that the Hudson’s Bay Company became a huge influencer by distributing apple seeds to Western Canada.
How many apple trees were planted around the West? 1670! That was a lot for that time.
The biggest obstacle to cultivating new apples was the climate. Hence why only certain apples are grown in certain areas.
Where do you think the first apple trees in BC were planted?
The Okanagan, Kelowna to be exact, is where the first apple trees began in BC, by a priest.
It wasn’t until 30 years later that we would see our first commercial orchard. Now BC is home to over 7500 varieties of apples! Today there are over 400 local Okanagan growers.
Apples are no longer only grown in the Okanagan now, the Fraser Valley hosts a lot of apple orchards today as well, which the public can visit. One fact remains, all apples in BC should be celebrated, it took a long trip to get them here, after all.
Our British Columbia Apples
In order to produce high-quality apples in our local orchards, BC Tree Fruits has been working with local farmers to produce and promote our local fruits, including apples, and helps growers use natural and sustainable methods to produce all the varieties we see today.
In fact, with three packing facilities and six receiving facilities, BC Tree Fruits works with each grower (there are over 400) to help them nurtures their orchards to create the best possible fruit before it is transported to BC Tree Fruits. From this point, the apples are checked, cleaned, packaged and transported to the customers. It’s quite a cooperative process, from the apple orchard to our homes.
Spartan apple, Salish, Ambrosia (homegrown original), Golden Delicious and Red Delicious are some of the more popular names you may hear when talking about BC Apples.
More than a decade ago Red Delicious was likely the most popular, or the variety you recall seeing the most, that’s no longer the case. In terms of BC apple crop Red Delicious makes up less than 5%, the Macintosh at 8%, Gala is now the most popular, at 45% percent, followed by Ambrosia at 22%.
There are also new varieties “breaking out” in the market” as you must see. One of these “new” ones is the Salish apple, just came to be in 2012.
It’s interesting to note, of all the apples produced in BC, only ⅔ is sold fresh. The other ⅓ is used for processing things such as apple juice, cider, sauces, and so on. That gives you an idea of just how many apples there are (if you think about all the things that contain apples).
So let’s run-down some of the apples you may come across, fresh. How many did you know existed?
So Many Apples in BC
Photos Credit to BC Tree Fruit
These are known as the most popular snacking apple. Available all year round, pretty much. Taste-wise they are sweet and juicy, which actually makes them perfect for juicing as well.
BC’s own variety, mainly available from October through March. It is sweet and crisp and juicy, making it best eaten fresh. If you aren’t sure if you have seen them, they are pink/red in colour, almost blush-like.
Pink Lady® or Cripps Pink
These apples mature late, so you see them late October. As you know they are pink and the taste is a mix of tart and sweet. These gained popularity for snacking due to its unique flavour. Fun fact: Pink Lady® is a registered trademark name in Canada.
The most planted yellow apple, it’s a bit greenish/yellow in colour. You will find these around mid to late September. They taste sweet with a subtle tartness, popular for eating fresh.
These bright green apples are mostly maturing in October and known to be quite tart. This actually makes it a great apple for baking with.
Extremely popular in BC today, and available from mid-August. These taste sweet, orangey/red in colour, and have a really good shelf-life. As such, this apple’s availability and popularity grows (not just in BC but all over the world).
These apples are known to be super sweet and mature in October. They look red/pink but have a green/yellow bottom usually. They definitely look a bit different because of the colour but also are pretty juicy.
This is a creamy yellow apple that isn’t as popular due to challenges in growing it, it is very finicky to climate. However, it is sweet, honey-like, but not as popular as some of the above mentioned.
Found after mid-August, it’s creamy yellow in colour when ripe. It provides a sweet taste and mildly acidic.
These are pinkish-red in colour with a bit of yellow running through and taste quite tangy but crisp. These apples were “made” in BC about 30 years ago, as such the name is trademarked.
These apples are found in early September and have a sweet/tart mixed taste, making it rather unique. However, because of poor shelf life, they are not as available in stores. If you do see them they are red/blush in colour with green running through the skin.
These apples are known to grow well in BC and available from mid-September. They are dark red with green throughout but have a very distinct taste that is a mixture of sweet and tart. They are picked usually just once a year. So if you see them, give them a try! Not very many areas, other than BC, can grow them.
These apples are seen maturing in October and taste sweet and have strong aroma, as such they work well in pies and sauces. They look cherry red in colour with green undertones and have a long shelf-life.
Now that you know all about BC apples, about where they originated, where they are grown, and how many varieties are available…which one(s) would you choose next time you walk by the fruit section?
Christina is a local freelance writer/blogger, passionate about exploring cafes and eateries in Vancouver. Her passion for food stems from her educational background in Food, Health and Nutrition from UBC. Christina is also a mom to two toddlers, who you may often see her with grabbing "coffee" on Main Street.