0
$\begingroup$

A relative of mine tells me that when she goes to buy fruits, she asks the vendor if the fruits are sweet. Surprisingly, the vendor is able to tell (the vendor is apparently willing to divulge this information because my relative is a long-time customer of the vendor). In turn the vendor gets the information from the farmer.

How can the farmer tell if their fruits are sweet without eating them? The only thing I can think of is they eat a very small batch, e.g. if they produce 100 apples then they eat one and use that to infer if the remaining 99 apples are sweet - but can we say with certainty that if one apple on a tree is sweet, then all the other apples on the tree (or on the farm, even) must also be sweet? If we can, what is the biological basis for this inference?

If this is not the method farmers use, how else can the farmer tell if their fruits are sweet without eating them?

$\endgroup$
3
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ What exactly do you mean by "sweet"? Are you using it as a synonym for ripe? There are many ways to tell if fruit is ripe - color, whether it's hard or soft to the touch, how it smells, and so on, and these vary by the type of fruit. It's simply a matter of practice. If you mean sweet, that will also depend on the type of fruit: a good number aren't - quince, for instance, or cornelian cherries. (Making a batch of jam at the moment, and you have to add quite a bit of sugar to make it palatable.) $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Commented Oct 14, 2021 at 3:53
  • $\begingroup$ @jamesqf "sweet" is not ripe; it means one of the five basic taste sensations. If you are concerned about how some types of fruits might not be sweet, then narrow the question and consider only apples. $\endgroup$
    – Allure
    Commented Oct 14, 2021 at 3:55
  • $\begingroup$ In the case of apples, you know the sweetness (and other characteristics) primarily by variety - cooking apples will be less sweet than eating apples, and crabapples are distinctly tart. Another factor is ripeness, which for apples you usually judge by the skin color, and somewhat by the season. As a grower, you have learned that for instance your Red Delicious apples are ripe in October. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Commented Oct 14, 2021 at 17:09

1 Answer 1

1
$\begingroup$

A relative of mine tells me that when she goes to buy fruits, she asks the vendor if the fruits are sweet. Surprisingly, the vendor is able to tell (the vendor is apparently willing to divulge this information because my relative is a long-time customer of the vendor). In turn the vendor gets the information from the farmer.

Whether a fruit is sweet is not a classified information: a good groceries store would typically offer several types of the same species of fruit, depending on their sweetness, crunchiness, how long they can be conserved, etc. This is in order to suit the tastes of the customers (not everyone likes extremely sweet apples that desintegrate in your mouth), their purposes (eating raw, making jam, cooking purée for a baby), etc.

How do they know? The varieties of fruits with different tastes are a result of breeding, just like different varieties of cows, dogs, etc. It is not uncommon to see charts like this one.

$\endgroup$
2
  • $\begingroup$ Does this mean that all apples of a specific kind (like "Ginger Gold") will taste the same? If so that's certainly something I never noticed, will pay more attention next time. $\endgroup$
    – Allure
    Commented Oct 14, 2021 at 9:12
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Allure they will not all taste exactly the same, and on occasion one may encounter a bad batch. However, in comparison with other varieties, the taste remains more or less uniform. $\endgroup$
    – Roger V.
    Commented Oct 14, 2021 at 9:17

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .