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Ever since somebody suggested that eating one a day kept the doctor away, the health benefits of the apple have been trumpeted by grandmothers and government ministers alike. The fruit's only drawback is its tendency to lose its glossy sheen and crunchy texture within a few days – a problem that a team of scientists in Australia now claims to have solved.
For the past 20 years, researchers at Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries (QPIF), a department of the Queensland government, have been developing a new variety of apple which they claim can stay fresh for months. Its name, RS103-130, might not have quite the same ring as popular varieties such as Golden Delicious, Pink Lady or Braeburn, but the scientists have described it as "the world's best apple" thanks to its sweet taste, longevity and ability to resist disease.
The apple, which is a deep red in colour, stays "crispy" for up to 14 days if kept in a fruit bowl, and if stored in a fridge it can remain edible for four months. The Queensland government is seeking a commercial supply partner to distribute the fruit and hopes to begin selling it next year.
Guy Barter, chief horticultural adviser for the Royal Horticultural Society, said the new variety's longevity could give it a major advantage. "Apples that have ripened in storage are never quite as nice as those that ripen naturally. There's also a huge environmental cost in running the cold stores to keep the apples, so if you had a variety that required less cold storing, that would be valuable," he said.