Ready. Set. Crunch. The scientific secrets of our juicy apples

4 minute read

The satisfying burst of flavor that comes from a juicy apple is hard to beat. So what goes into cultivating the crunchiest fruit? How do we lock in the crunch? And how can you get crisp, delicious nutritiousness from every apple you choose?  

“A lot of it comes down to the breeding,” says Dharini Marinkovich, one of the Rockit horticultural scientists dedicated to ensuring every apple from every Rockit™ tube packs a serious crunch.  

Dharini explains that the Rockit™ apple is a relatively new cultivar, but it comes from good lineage – its parents are Royal Gala and a Gala-splendour and part of the New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research breeding programme. She says the breeders have selected the best traits from these juicy parent apples, using hand pollination, years of cultivation, and rigorous testing to identify and propagate from the tree with the best characteristics. The end result is a special breed of apple that’s deliciously sweet and crisp every time.  

Bursting with crunch 

The crunch of an apple is actually a burst of flavor exploding in your mouth. Imagine little sacks with juice in them. In a fruit like a mandarin you can easily see those little sacks of juice, but in an apple, they are smaller and harder to see – but they’re still there. Each of the small juice-packed cells is stuck to each other. When you bite into a crunchy apple the individual cell walls rupture and the juice is released from the sack, so you get an instant sweet juicy hit.  

The amount of crunch is controlled by the cell walls that glue the cells together. Certain enzymes can cause these cell walls to start to break down, so when you bite into the apple the cells simply pull apart and stay whole. When the cells don’t rupture, the burst of juice is not released into your mouth, and all you’re left with is a floury taste. Fortunately, Rockit™ apples have good genes (courtesy of their special breeding) which means that each bite always comes power-packed with a juicy crunch.  

 The harvest sweet spot 

It’s not just genetic makeup that gives Rockit™ apples the crunchy edge. Apples are a climacteric fruit. This means as they mature a burst of ethylene (a natural plant hormone) triggers a cascade of ripening factors. If the apple become over-ripe the cell walls start breaking down and that’s when the sought-after crunch disappears.  

Dharini explains that this is why getting the harvest time right is essential. “At Rockit, we are rigorous with our maturity testing. Testing every week or two and analysing the conversion of starch to sugar.” The key is to pick the apples when the starch has started to convert, but it is not fully converted to sugar as this ensures the apples still have sufficient starch as ‘fuel in the tank’ to see them through the storage period. 

Locking in the crunch 

On top of optimal harvest time, Rockit™ apples also benefit from being stored in their unique tube. “It’s like a micro-climate with high humidity, so it helps keep the apples in peak condition,” adds Dharini.  

Snack hack: How to avoid picking a bad apple 

Mealy apples can be quite hard to pick from the outside and it’s not until you bite into them that you discover the floury taste. An interesting thing about Rockit™ apples is, because of their genes, if they do start to lose their crunch they begin to shrivel and wrinkle. This shrivelling is easy to spot, which means any less-than-ideal apples are always graded out.  

So, if you want to grab and go with apples that pack powerful crunch, Rockit™ apples are the perfect pick. They have been cultivated for optimal crunchiness, harvested in a way that ensures sustained crispiness and uniquely packaged to keep them in peak condition so you can Rockit every day! 

Written by,
Emma Hogan

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Rockit™ apples are available all year, in 30 countries around the world. Here’s where we are near you.