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Article: Japan, land of the $150 handcrafted apple

Traditional Japanese apple farmers use stencils to emboss designs on fruit skin. (Photo: Jane Alden Stevens, University of Cincinnati Magazine)

The abundance, quality and diversity of the Western New York apple crops seem even more of an eater's windfall when you consider the apple's status in Japan.

In Japan, the fruit is usually reserved for special occasions, since a single apple can cost $10, according to this fascinating story by Deborah Rieselman in the University of Cincinnati Magazine.

Jane Alden Stevens, a UC photography professor, documented the practices of old-fashioned Japanese apple farmers, whose painstaking craftsmanship results in apples that sell for as much as $150. The younger farmers do things differently, and the practices are dying out.

These Japanese apple farmers pick most of an apple tree's blossoms to focus the plant's efforts on fewer fruit. Each apple is enclosed in a protective bag for most of its growth. Some take elaborate measures to focus sunlight on the fruit, such as laying reflective sheets underneath trees to bounce sunlight onto the apples' pale bellies.

For maximum effect, read it while crunching into a juicy Cortland.

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