Biting into a mealy apple is a disappointing experience. The apple looks crisp and fresh on the outside, but when you sink your teeth into it, it’s soft, dry and flavorless on the inside. This is usually the result of an apple that has sat around too long or been stored improperly.

Japanese scientists have discovered that some apples are actually coming right off the tree mealier and less flavorful than they have in the past. Smithsonian says the scientists have determined that climate change may be responsible for slowly changing the taste and texture of Fuji and Tsugaru apples over decades.

The firmness and the concentration of malic acid in the apples have declined when chemically compared with the results of apple samples dating back as far as the 1970s.

Additionally, the modern apples were more susceptible to watercore, a disease that causes water-soaked regions in the apple’s flesh to break down internally over time. In other words, today’s apples were consistently mealier, less flavorful, and more disease-prone according to objective measurements such as titrating their juices to determine acid concentration, or using mechanical plungers on the fruit’s flesh to test firmness.
The regions where the apples are grown have risen in temperature 2 degrees Celsius over the past 40 years, and the apple trees have started to flower one or two days earlier each decade. Some studies have shown that “higher temperatures during the 70-day ripening window [of apples] can significantly decrease taste and texture.”

The evidence that climate change is the culprit for the mealier, less flavorful apples isn’t conclusive, but it’s compelling.

The next time I bite into an apple that isn’t as crisp and flavorful as I hope, I’ll now be wondering if it’s old or if it’s climate change. How about you?

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