Humans have been manipulating nature for many years through the use of grafting or chemicals to obtain better food, but producing ghost apples with an ethereal and transparent appearance like crystal is still not within our capabilities, this phenomenon is completely natural, and we could even call it something magical. They were discovered by a farmer in Michigan after a freezing rain storm.
This is how ghost apples are formed
Once the rain falls, it has nothing else to do but freeze, creating thin layers of frozen water. As it falls on the apple, the water covers it as it freezes, which explains the shape of the figure, but why is there no apple inside the ice? Susan Brown, professor of agriculture at Cornell University has explained how this process takes place in the article published in Today.
The phenomenon of ghost apples cannot happen just anywhere, as it requires a perfect combination of several complex factors. The main factor is of course the apples since they must not have a very hard peel, “the peel keeps them like a full water balloon,” says Brown, because the layer of ice that then covers them is very thin and does not last many hours.
In turn, this phenomenon will also depend on the pulp of the apples, so the best option is those apples that remain on the trees long after the harvest season, these decompose to the point of taking a consistency like a puree or mush.
Because the freezing point of apples is even lower than that of water, it causes the apple peel to be consumed allowing the liquid mush inside to eventually drain out of the mold that has formed the ice. This is how the apple falls to the ground leaving only the transparent ice layer with the exact shape of an apple.
They need a combination of freezing rain along with prolonged sub-zero temperatures for the ice to reach all the fruit and then the rotting apple mush is leached out at the bottom of the frozen layer, giving the detailed, hollow impression of an apple.
Andrew Sietsema was in the right place at the right time, so he was the lucky person to capture this incredible natural phenomenon at his orchard in Sparta, Michigan. Sietsema told Today Food that the ice was about half an inch thick, and the apples looked like “Christmas tree bulbs.”
“I like the term that was coined ‘ghost apple,’” Brown said. “What I love about this story and the excitement it generated is that it shows all the hard work our apple growers do regardless of the weather conditions. The fact that Andrew was outside in freezing conditions allowed him to capture this beautiful event.”
[Photos: Andrew Sietsema]
Story originally published in Spanish in Ecoosfera