Donated by Dr. Kate Webster
Weight: 4 g
Length: 5.5 cm
This crusty apple core was excavated from her backpack by a respected former Dehydrated Food Museum chief security guard. The apple core has turned dark due to oxidation.
Fruit contains the hormone ethylene, which regulates various stages of its development, its ripening, and its eventual deterioration. Ancient Egyptians used to gash the fruit of the sycomore fig, Ficus sycomorus, while it was still on the tree, to break its protective skin in order to stimulate the production of ethylene inside the fruit. This would speed up the ripening process so it would ripen before parasitic wasps could take up residence inside the fruit. The Egyptians even had a special round knife for this purpose. For more detail, read “An Ancient Technique for Ripening Sycomore Fruit in East Mediterranean Countries” by J. Galil (1968). By being bitten into, this apple specimen was in its own way gashed, ethylene was produced, and what was left of the apple became very, very, very ripe.
After over a dozen years in storage, in 2014, when this photo was taken, the specimen was found to be slightly sticky and to have some white mold growing on its surface. This indicates that though the apple core was dehydrated, there was still a little moisture left in it. Even a small amount of moisture can set off mold growth. Note that the mold grew only on the peeled portions of the apple. Dried apples tend not to be as stable as dried citrus fruit and strawberries. The museum regrets that this unique item has been removed from the physical collection and composted. NEXT >