Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Any apple experts out there (before they kill me)?

I have a (usually) rather nice apple tree, which came with the back garden many years ago.

The apples are usually pretty good for eating, but some of the dry years we’ve had in the past meant they were off the menu. While it was a guess on my part, in those hot, arid years, the apples tended to crack and split while still on the branch, something I put down to dehydration and dry ground.

I never proved that thought, but the only thing I ever found that looked similar appeared be called ‘Star Disease’, and while the apples looked similar, none of the other symptoms seemed to apply, and even the online accounts were light on detail.

Our summers have now returned to their cooler and wetter days, this condition seems to have almost gone away, and I’ve been eating the apples for a few years.


This year has not been good, despite appearances.

I sampled the crop a few weeks ago – and let’s just say I was ill afterwards.

The apples seemed the most likely cause, as I wasn’t trying anything else new or suspect.

But, I didn’t believe it, and after recovering, decided to try them again.

Unfortunately, while not as much ‘fun’ as that first tasting, I can’t say the result means I’m in any hurry to have a third ‘tasting’.

Also, in the intervening period I noticed this crop is not responding well to being stored.

In previous years, I’ve kept them all the way up to, and past, the New Year, with the only downside being that by then they’re tending to dry up a bit, and the skins can look a little shrivelled.

Not this lot.

Still (in October) some two months away from the New Year milestone, this lot will never last that long.

When I checked them, I found that many had become dark, discoloured, and soft.

Others had actually gone completely rotten, turned dark and soft, and even had (white) mould on their surface.

This is new, not seen in past years, and closer inspection shows that many of the remainder already show evidence of this rot setting in already.

Not good, and it’s worth noting I wash them after collecting them. I don’t store them piled up and/or touching. I also discard any that show any damage or discolouration immediately, so they never even get stored. In past years all I do is leave them on the floor in a spare room, where they usually sit undisturbed, and I usually spot the few that have been damaged/bruised, and they get picked out and dumped.

But this lot is almost going rotten as I watch.

This pic gives an idea, although the worst were all dumped a while ago – these are just what I collected this morning, plus some tiny ones just being dumped. These all looked and felt fine a week ago.

One additional thing I’ve noted now is that they are rapidly losing any shine they once had, and are becoming matt and dull, even before they become discoloured and go soft.


Rotting Apples

Rotting Apples


Oct 20, 2017 - Posted by | Appeal, photography | , ,


  1. When apples just begin to go past their prime they may begin to ferment. While this isn’t a big deal if making (hard) cider, it is if you eat them and are sensitive to the fermentation going on in your G.I. tract. First, you hear ominous sounds, followed by diarrhea. We call it “the yeasties”. There are different levels of sensitivity to this – Some people get it and some people do not. The condition may also have something to do with if you have also eaten other types of fermentable foods that the yeast can feed upon while in your system. If you do not want to press and ferment your apples in to hard cider then I would suggest baking them. You don’t even need to put them in to pie or any type of pastry if short on time. Put them on a cookie sheet and bake them. If you are baking sour apples then sprinkle a little sugar on them. Delicious! And you won’t get “the yeasties”.


    Comment by mohicantom | Oct 31, 2017

  2. Thanks for that.

    Certainly ties in with this year’s ‘little problem’ – and I’m fairly happy to say the GI effect was not extreme, just an irritation until it cleared out and I became less… ‘regular’ after a few days.

    Yeast infection matches with the appearance of the apples, which I already noted rotted rapidly and displayed mould once this accelerated. It would also match my observation that they lacked their usual shine even after being collected and washed immediately – clearly a futile effort.

    This is their usual appearance (the 2007 pic)

    Since posting the query, I’ve found they can turn on an almost daily basis. That’s fast, given they usually store past December.

    I’m not sure if they picked this up on the tree (transmitted by bird poop?, or from the ground where I normally collect them as they fall each day.

    As noted above, this year has been wet (yes, surprises, wet in Scotland) and the soil below is bare, so that’s what they land and lie in for up to day. As well as being wet, the soil is smelly (I’m a realist, I know it’s just a giant litter box for the local wildlife). Years ago it was weed covered, but I cleared that some time ago, so it’s generally hard and dry. But this year, steady showers and shade combined to mean it has been soft and wet.

    I tend to think any apple that landed on it was doomed as soon as it touched.

    Good idea to cook them, even though they are great eaters (usually), but they’re rotting so fast I wouldn’t even trust that.

    Don’t suppose you might happen to know of any cause for the effect seen in the 2013 pic?

    That cleared up in following years.


    Comment by Apollo | Oct 31, 2017

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