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I was cutting up an apple for a salad, and after removing the peel I encountered loads of brown spots. There weren't any notable damages on the peel, nor any soft spots when feeling the apple when I bought it. The brown spots themselves are softer than the actual apple, but apparently not soft enough to be noticeable when handling the apple with its peel stil on. Also, some of the spots were 'deeper' into the apple, and not immediately noticeable when removing the peel, they only became noticeable when cutting it into pieces. This is what the worst part of it looked like after I already cut away quite a bit:

enter image description here

Since similar spots (in smaller quantities) were present throughout the entire apple, I threw this apple out, but I'm wondering what caused these spots, and most importantly how I can prevent having apples with these spots. Could I have prevented buying this apple like this, or is this something I caused by storing it wrong? Also, are these spots safe to eat?

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  • PS: To me these spots looked different enough from the ones here to think this is not a duplicate, and these are different spots. The apple looked nothing like the answer there when sliced in half. Oct 24, 2023 at 11:23
  • Unless you’re growing them yourself, I suspect that it’s not something that you could have prevented. It might be something from growing like the other one, or just that it’s been stored for too long or under bad conditions (and you won’t know how long it had been in storage before you bought it; it’s often months so they can sell apples year round; even the farm stand at my former work used nitrogen storage)
    – Joe
    Oct 24, 2023 at 13:35
  • This does look remarkably like bitter pit, can you exclude that the peel had any unusual dots? Do you remember what cultivar you had and is an apple from storage or new harvest? (If you can remember)
    – Stephie
    Oct 24, 2023 at 17:02
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    @Stephie it was a Jonagold, no idea if it was a new or old harvest, I don't think supermarkets advertise that but I can look when I go shopping there again tomorrow. I really did not see any blemish on the peel, I started checking when I saw the first spots appearing while peeling. I don't have pictures to prove it, and I'm not digging the peels out of the trash :P Oct 24, 2023 at 17:07
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    Nah, I am not questioning your description, merely asking for a few clarifications.
    – Stephie
    Oct 24, 2023 at 17:28

1 Answer 1

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I‘m afraid this indeed a duplicate of your linked question, or at least the same disease that presents itself slightly differently.

What you see is bitter pit, and the brown spots are clusters of damaged, necrotic cells.

From a culinary perspective, these apples are perfectly fine as far as food safety goes, it’s certainly a cosmetic issue, over time the spots can turn bitter and woody, or cork-like.

There is nothing you can do as a consumer to prevent this, because the damage is caused during the early growth phase. Some cultivars are more susceptible (your Jonagold included) and insufficient water supply during that time can disturb calcium absorption and cause cell damage. This damage can then grow to perceptible levels (as in your example) until harvest and continue in storage - also aggravated by suboptimal conditions.

While you can not prevent this damage, you can take a few measures when shopping for apples.

  • Often (but not always!) small round discolorations hint at the spots below. Although many large producers will scan their products for visual damage and sell the spotty ones for processing.
  • Selecting different cultivars can decrease the overall probability.
  • Buying from the new harvest around this time of the year means that if spots appear, they are probably at least yet woody, even if visually unappealing.

Unfortunately the droughty conditions in the past growing season (at least in some parts of Europe) will increase the overall probability of bitter pit, unless the farmers were able to have good water management. An overall bad harvest this year may (and that’s my prediction based on observations) also mean that grocery chains will have larger tolerances for imperfections.

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