26 Oct2005

Mealy Apple Rant!!!

by Marketman

What is going on with our selection of imported fruit in Manila, specifically apples? appleWho is behind the conspiracy to import the mealiest, most tasteless, inedible apples the planet has to offer? Why have our choices been so drastically curtailed and the quality of fruit sunk to the level next to that given to cows to munch on? I am not amused. I have not had a decent apple more than once in the past 12 months! I am not just being bitchy…I want better apples!!! Given all the modern advances in freight and importation rules that allow us to have the latest original Zara t-shirt for just PHP495 flown in from Europe 3 days after it is sewn (when the local bazaar is selling supposedly overrun GAP t-shirts — read seconds, fell of the truck, fake –at PHP550), it boggles the mind that we cannot get decent apples…

I love local tropical fruit and write about them frequently, but I also love western fruit and having spent a large chunk of my life in New York and New England, I also miss my apples! It’s the tail end of the Fall season in the Northern Hemisphere and in the week before Halloween Farmers Markets across the U.S. will have a bumper crop of freshly harvested apples. The later they are harvested, generally the sweeter… Northern Spy, Golden Russet, Winsesap, Mutsu, Fuji, Macoun, Macintosh, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Rome, Granny Smith… there are dozens upon dozens of varieties of this fantastic fruit in the U.S. alone. I haven’t even mentioned the “off-season” fruit from Australia and New Zealand like their delicious royal galas and the unique and tasty varieties from Europe. Instead, we get the worst quality fruit assembled from the Americas, China and Buddha knows where else!

A good apple is crisp, sweet and tart at the same time, juicy, delicious. Different apples for different uses… Northern Spy or Granny Smith for apple pies, Mutsus or Macouns for eating, etc. In the past two months I have gotten the WORST apples on the planet from sources throughout Manila. They were probably harvested last year and kept in refrigerated warehouses in Seattle and when they weren’t sold for 9 months they were shipped out to here. You can taste the cardboard they were stored in. They are mealy, soft, disgusting. Not only are they old, they are also physically the worst grade possible. I wouldn’t mind bad looks if the apples were fresh but you know you are getting crap when they are very small, misshapen and mealy and wormy. These are apples even apple juice would not be made out of!

Even if you hunt through the importers in Divisoria, they only carry these horrific apples that mainly now come from China (cheaper daw). Gee whiz, we import 1,843 different labels of wine, you think someone could bring in some premium fruit??? You have to think conspiracy when an hour flight away in Hong Kong the groceries are groaning with premium apples, the same is true in Singapore and even Jakarta supermarkets have a better selection. Harumpphh… I am truly annoyed. I just paid PHP25 a piece for mediocre mangoes but no one seems to be able to land a good apple in Makati for 50 U.S. cents each when they cost less than 10 cents at the farm??? If you are living in the U.S. Northeast please do me a favor this week and bite into a brilliant, freshly harvested apple and send the experience to me telepathically… thank you.



  1. Apicio says:

    Done. You are not alone. Most apples sold in supermarkets here are past their prime too, specially in the Southern US. I just buy them now at farmer’s roadside stands where more and more heirloom varieties are offered. Fortunately for me, Northern Spy, the consummate pie apple (heck we use them for turron too) is available almost whole year round.

    Oct 26, 2005 | 6:56 am


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  3. Wilson Cariaga says:

    that’s so true MM. . . that is why i don’t even eat apples from markets and supermarkets cause they’re really no good. . . actually i often use them in flower arrangements especially the small ones they look great for that rather than biting into it.

    Oct 26, 2005 | 7:38 am

  4. oscar says:

    There was a time when apples would arrive in Manila during the “ber” months and you know that Christmas is all around. Now we have a tragedy of apples all year.

    Oct 26, 2005 | 8:26 am

  5. Ronee says:

    You are right with your observations Marketman. My guess is the importers buy this really cheap and low quality apples and sell them here for a hefty profit. We all know who are the biggest fruit importers in the country. Have a nice day Marketman.

    Oct 26, 2005 | 9:08 am

  6. Gigi says:

    I’ve stopped hoping that I’d clinch a good batch of apples and have found comfort in the green pears which are crisp, juicy and delightfully sweet.

    Oct 26, 2005 | 9:50 am

  7. Mila says:

    I remember Christmases when the dark red apples meant they were juicy and crisp, but eventually a red apple was not enough of a guarantee that the fruit was good to eat. I turned to those small apples from New Zealand which were tiny, but crisp. Nowadays, even those are less than stellar. Agribusiness has made fruits and flowers available all year round, but usually the quality falls flat. Do we give up taste and sweetness and aroma for availability? What about the cost to the consumer if we demand heirlooms that are less likely to last the trip across oceans, or are prey to diseases?
    Your rant is making me meditative, MM!

    Oct 26, 2005 | 11:18 am

  8. MasPinaSarap says:

    I remember seeing some nice thick Fuji Apples for sale by a crate vendor up in Baguio around the end of November. They were pricey, but my mom bought one for each of my cousins. I passed on the apples and had lanzones instead. :)

    Oct 26, 2005 | 12:01 pm

  9. acidboy says:


    is this better than the local cavendish bananas sold in supermarkets that are probably sprayed with some chemical to preserve the appearance so that the moment you pick one from the bunch, the rest of the bananas start to turn dark and mushy?

    Oct 26, 2005 | 12:05 pm

  10. Marketman says:

    acidboy, I don’t buy cavendish from groceries, for the reasons you exactly mention. But considering they make it Japan in reasonable shape, there is a trade-off issue… Maspinasarap, fujis are about the only decent ones making it in, but even there lousy fujis are proliferating like crazy. Mila, the royal galas from New Zealand are generally a very good variety and you are right for 2 years or so they were really good but lately they have been importing the dregs. Gigi, yup, green pears a better buy. The yellow chinese pears I love but lately I have been getting worms in 5 out of 7 fruit. You just want to go back to the vendor and tuck it in where the sun doesn’t shine. Ronee, it is the importers fault, I agree… Oscar, so well put. Wilson, good idea, not only do they look good, they smell good as well… Apicio, thanks! I am envious, northern spys??? We can’t even get granny smiths anymore, they are now labelled here as Chinese green apples…

    Oct 26, 2005 | 12:51 pm

  11. Ellen says:

    now i feel bad. i was just complaining the other day that i was sick of apples and i wish melbourne had more tropical fruits. our situation is reverse here. we can buy plenty of fresh apples with ten different varieties, numerous pears, grapes any western fruit you can think of. yes, i did see the apples available in manila when i was there and i couldn’t agree more. they were quite pitiful. hhmm….i think i should be more grateful with the variety of fruits here, albeit western ones. at least i don’t have to settle eating mediocre, tasteless apples :-)

    I will gladly take a bite on a juicy, plump apple for you MM.

    Oct 26, 2005 | 1:30 pm

  12. ssk says:

    Fuji apples from China are juicy and cheap, about US25 cents in the market. So are red Washington apples, which are more crispy and crunchy.

    Oct 26, 2005 | 3:25 pm

  13. Sister says:

    Apples have to be transported at a temp. of 40-45 F otherwise they deteriorate in a day.Selling them open air doesn’t help, either. You are getting apples from China no doubt, they have practically killed the apple industry in Washington State that used to ship apples to the Phil. and the rest of Asia. Buy a cheap off-season ticket to NYC, Union Square has an Apple Festival next weekend, honorong the Newtown Pippin, the apple from Queens… if you can imagine. Just had some pretty good eating apples, Vitamin C before the oranges from Florida arrive unless they have been blown off the trees by Wilma.

    Oct 27, 2005 | 2:22 am

  14. stefoodie says:

    well, considering that at the end of the 19th century there were over 8000 varieties of apples (i’ve seen articles that say 10000) and today we’re down to 20% of that, we are in bad shape. there are a lot of issues here — consumers who want perfect-looking fruit, the marketers who want apples that store and travel well, never mind the flavor, the farmer who wants to be profitable…. if we keep on demanding the very best (and buying it when we can afford to), they’ll start providing us with the best. let’s just hope it’s not before we lose more of the varieties that thrive today. ask your markets to carry better varieties; and in this case, doing our talking with our wallet just might help. and vice-versa, if we don’t buy the icky stuff, hopefully the middlemen will get the message and ask farmers to grow tastier varieties. (or, we can talk to farmers ourselves.)

    Oct 27, 2005 | 10:36 am

  15. Hchie says:

    If apples in Manila are sold in that condition, can you imagine how they are out here in the provinces? I have given up trying to duplicate the taste, texture and even aroma of all these non-indigenous produce, I think it would be a futile attempt.Those poor things have been tossed, turned, sweated to kingdom come! Nothing beats fresh harvest,even bread smells and tastes different straight out of the kiln. When in the Philippines I do as the Pinoy’s do….eat mangoes and bananas. Now that you can’t get elsewhere :)

    Oct 27, 2005 | 12:22 pm

  16. acidboy says:

    the bulk of imported fruits we get are sourced from traders in sto. cristo and lavezares streets in binondo (which is an interesting place to go to, even at night) and i may not be off the mark when i say that since fruits have become a trading commodity, the bulk of the fruits that come in are the cheaper kind in the world market.

    Oct 27, 2005 | 3:06 pm

  17. dmk says:

    that is so true. i tried making an apple pie last time i was in manila with apples i bought at the market and i pretty much just ended up with mush. it was soooo gross.

    where do you get the Zara shirts for Php495??? that’s even cheaper than they sell them here in Germany!!!

    Oct 27, 2005 | 7:59 pm

  18. Apicio says:

    If I may be allowed to offer a word of consolation to all you guys, even living in the temperate zone does not guarantee good pies. Unless you made it yourself from prime ingredients or paid through your nose, all you get here are pies filled from a plastic bucket, not a tad better than “apple pie” filled with chayote disguised with lemon extract and cinnamon. Those ever so cheerful lacquered fresh fruits tarts are classic instances of deception, triumphs of packaging over content.

    Oct 27, 2005 | 8:31 pm

  19. Marketman says:

    dmk, ZARA just opened its first branch in Makati at the Rockwell Mall… the basic t-shirts are PHP495 or about USD9… about the same as shops in Hong Kong and Singapore. The rents and staffing costs in Germany must result in higher retail prices… Another ZARA store is opening soon in Metro Manila as well… acidboy, I agree we get the bottom of the barrel stuff these days… this was not always true, but is now. Hchie, I agree when in Rome… but I do like to have a global cosmopolitan selection of goods… arborio for risotto, french mustard for dressings, and a crisp apple to munch on or cook with… Stef, you’re such a varietal preservationist! I can see you growing 4 kinds of heirloom tomatoes rescued from 15th century graves… Apicio and other MM readers, please check out a much earlier post I did on apple pies… the key to a great crust is keeping it all cold and not overworking the dough…

    Oct 27, 2005 | 8:35 pm

  20. virgilio says:

    I’m not a big apple fan but in Fall I tend to eat some. Just because we have a tree in the garden that produces succulent red fruits (too many!) and I feel guilty if I don’t eat some of those. They’re called Winter apples as you can keep them in the cellar all through Winter. They make good apple-strudels. The variety I prefer is the banana-apple. I don’t know what the breeders did but the taste is a cross between banana and apple, hence the name. I’ll have a bite for you, MM.

    Oct 27, 2005 | 10:06 pm

  21. stefoodie says:

    hi marketman, sorry, don’t mean to hog your comment area here. i just thought i’d add a clarification. the reason i say “talk to the farmers” is because there ARE farmers on the yahoogroups rarefruit-ph wanting to know how and where to grow apples there. there’s a dr. vallejo who has grown apples in San Pablo, another who has grown Fuji apples in Pangasinan. so this is not all talk — there are people out there who may be willing to give you what you want; you just need to find them and tell them. siguro what’s needed is a way for consumers and farmers to communicate?

    Oct 27, 2005 | 11:23 pm

  22. Marketman says:

    Stef, I agree completely. But apples grown here are a bit farfetched. I know they have been able to do it but with very “runty” results… how can they not be otherwise… apples for the most part need a winter to rest… I think this is more a case of bad importers who choose to bring in only the cheapest stuff rather than an issue of wanting to grow the stuff here. Modern transport by jet means we can get a freshly picked Northern Spy from upstate New York to Makati in less than 36 hours… I know its best to buy local but I would rather growers focus on tropical fruits first…

    Oct 27, 2005 | 11:41 pm

  23. karen says:

    what i do, before purchasing an apple, is I press the bottom of the apple with my thumb. If it gives easily, it’s definitely mushy. If it doesn’t, it’s crisp. I’ve been more or less successful and so far haven’t had any bad apples, except for maybe some that are a bit on the tasteless or sour side…

    Oct 28, 2005 | 1:00 am

  24. ken says:

    I sympathize about the bad apples. I don’t know what’s going on either, but I live in Washington State in the US and we are supposed to be famous for our apples, its one of our main crops, and they suck here too this year. I do the thumb test too, like Karen, and I have to try four or five varieties when I am in the store before I can find some that are hopefully decent. The whole apple crop seems subpar this year.

    Nov 23, 2005 | 12:05 am

  25. Shan says:

    We have fresh apples from New Zealand anyone can contact us by phone +6328017374. We prioritize bulk orders. Thank you!

    Oct 1, 2008 | 10:45 am


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