Contents

Where can I buy Demeter apples from Augustin?

Are pesticides also applied in organic fruit farming?

How healthy are apples?

What's in an apple?

How problematical is the application of copper in organic fruit farming?

Why are there scab-resistant apple varieties?

Why do apples still taste freshly-picked in late spring?

Optically there is hardly any difference between Augustin apples and conventional ones. Are they really "organic"?

Do organic apples grow on big trees, like they used to?

Why are organic apples not as cheap as apples cultivated according to conventional methods?

Why "frost-protection irrigation"?

Why have the good old apple varieties actually disappeared from the market?

What is the best way to store organic apples?

The skin of some apples is shiny and has a fatty feel to it. Have these been waxed?

Are organic apples better for humankind and the environment?

Are organic apples healthier? Organic apples are healthier!

Does organic cultivation have an impact?

Can apples become contaminated when they are sold at the side of the road?


Where can I buy Demeter apples from Augustin?

Our Demeter apples are available from well-assorted organic shops. Simply ask your organic shop or supermarket for Augustin apples.

If Augustin apples are not available, we will gladly provide you with assistance by including you in our list.

Unfortunately we are currently unable to sell our apples directly from the farm.
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Are pesticides also applied in organic fruit farming?

So-called "spraying" is often equated with "spraying poison" and this results in a general aversion to mechanical processes, which have nothing to do with what is contained in the actual tank.

The use of the following is strictly prohibited in organic fruit farming

  • chemical and synthetic fungicides for combating fungi
  • chemical and synthetic insecticides for combating insects
  • herbicides for combating weeds
  • hormones for thinning out flowers and accelerating the ripening process

Copper and sulphur (which occur naturally in apples as trace elements) are sprayed onto the apples in order to combat apple scab, neem (extracted from the seeds of the neem tree) is sprayed to combat aphids, quassia against attacks by the apple sawfly, algal compounds and vinasse as a nutrient supply, hot-water treatment against storage rot, rock flour to stimulate the production of phenols in order to promote resistance.

Currently there are not enough natural pesticides available to combat every type of pest: woolly aphid colonies are therefore only sprayed with sharp jets of water. Furthermore, the Augustins also experiment with homeopathic compounds which they manufacture themselves.

For the Augustins, organic farming not only comprises the exchange of chemical and synthetic substances for organic ones, but working towards increasing plant resistance to diseases by means of holistic processes such as maintaining the health of the soil and the facilitation of beneficial organisms through biotopes and flowering areas.
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How healthy are apples?

An apple a day keeps the doctor away. This old British saying has a truthful core, which can today even be scientifically proven. Because apples contain a whole bunch of healthy substances. The list includes a large variety of vitamins and minerals ranging from pectins, fruit acids and dietary fibres to easily digestible carbohydrates such as fructose. The range of more than 20 different minerals and trace elements also includes larger quantities of potassium, magnesium, copper, phosphorous, calcium and iodine which perform vital functions in the human body. In addition vitamins A, B, C and E, which strengthen your eyesight, promote cell regeneration and support the immune system. More recent studies show that apples are also rich in secondary plant substances which make our bodies less susceptible to diseases and allergies. Furthermore, they activate detoxification reactions, inhibit inflammations and even provide protection from cancer.
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What's in an apple?

100 g of fully ripened apple contain an average of:

53 kilocalories = 220 kilojoules
85.3 g water
11.9 g carbohydrates
2.3 g dietary fibres
0.4 g fat
0.34 g protein

Apples as vitamin C suppliers
vitamin C content is particularly high in apples, whereby the exact amount varies widely depending on the variety. An apple weighing 150 grams, which is consumed raw, may cover 12 – 60% of the daily requirements depending on the variety. If apples are harvested too early and/or stored for too long, the vitamin C contents are lower. The following basically applies: the longer an apple ripens, the higher the vitamin C content. Even apples from the same tree can contain differing amounts of vitamins. Therefore apples which grow in the shade are significantly poorer in vitamins than apples on sunny branches. Up to 70 % of the vitamins are located in the skin or directly beneath it. Therefore it is recommendable to eat unpeeled apples and to refrain from removing the skin during preparation. Organic apples can always be enjoyed unpeeled.
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How problematical is the application of copper in organic fruit farming?

Copper is a trace element which is also of vital importance for human nutrition. It can be found in the liver, the skeleton and in the muscular system and is mainly required in order to produce red blood pigment. In organic fruit farming copper is used to combat apple scab, which can lead to large-scale losses in quality and yield in areas with a high rainfall. According to strict organic farming guidelines, the application of copper is limited to 3 kg per hectare and per year. On the Augustin Fruit Farm we are very committed to keeping the use of copper as low as possible. Due to our experience and targeted applications we have currently succeeded in keeping our apples scab-free by using only half the permitted quantity. However, we decided to have our organic apples tested for copper by our experts and we then compared them with other untreated apples. The result: there is no difference. This means that the quantities of copper used by us are not accumulated in the apples. Nevertheless, opposing parties continue to call for the prohibition of copper. However, without copper profitable organic fruit farming is virtually impossible. This is why the organic cultivation of apples in Denmark ceased completely after their prohibition of copper. We hope that in future research will be conducted on the physiology of apple scab so that this problem can be addressed in another way.
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Why are there scab-resistant apple varieties?

Apple scab is one the most feared fungal diseases in the fruit farming sector. An infection reduces yields and particularly also the quality of the apples. The fungus manifests itself in the form of large numbers of round, black spots on apples and leaves. A particular problem is posed by the fact that the fungus cannot be eradicated after a plant has been infected, since it continuously produces new spores. Furthermore, these spores are resistant to cold temperatures and are able to overwinter on dead plant remains. This is why organic fruit farmers are constantly on the alert in spring in order to prevent primary infection from occurring. Copper and sulphur are preventative substances which can be used to combat such infections. However, their application is extremely complex and cost-intensive. A good alternative, which has proven to be useful from an organic point of view, is the cultivation of scab-resistant apple varieties. By means of intensive cultivation we are able to fall back on numerous new varieties today which include such resistance. However: sometimes this resistance is interrupted; nature is intelligent enough to find a way. Yet cultivators are trying to minimise susceptibility to the disease by means of resilient new varieties.
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Why do apples still taste freshly-picked in late spring?

When the apples are harvested in Autumn they are picked from the tree and directly packed into 300 kg wooden boxes. Rotten apples are simply dropped or sorted out. The full boxes are then stored in the CA/ULO cells.

What is CA/ULO?

CA stands for "controlled atmosphere" and ULO for "ultra low oxygenium", which means extremely little oxygen. When a cell is full, it is tightly sealed.

The apples use up the oxygen until only 1,2 % (instead of the usual 21 %) is contained within the cell. Now the apples' metabolism slows down to a minimum - in this state of "hibernation" the apples remain fresh for months on end.

The atmospheric conditions in the storage cell are measured and controlled by means of a computer. Humidity lies at 93 % and the temperature, depending on the variety, lies between 2 and 5 degrees Celsius.

This is why Augustin's organic apples still taste as if they have just been picked, even in April.
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Optically there is hardly any difference between Augustin apples and conventional ones. Are they really "organic"?

An organically produced apple does not necessarily have to be wrinkled or blotchy.

The Augustins work hard all year round in order to achieve this:

  • Winter pruning provides trees with the correct shape.
  • In spring plant protection treatments are carried out in order to protect the fruits against pests and fungi.
  • In June, when the apples are hazelnut-sized, every tree is thinned out by hand. Fruits which are too many, too small or infested by pests are cut away with pruning shears.
  • In July/August summer pruning takes place: all the shoots which prevent sunlight from reaching the apples, are cut or torn out. At the same time attention is once more paid to overabundant or infested fruit.
  • In Autumn: a tree is never harvested all at once but always in 2-3 stages. In so doing, the less exposed fruits are gradually able to acquire a better colour and ripeness.
  • Processing: the carefully stored apples are then emptied onto the filling device by a large crate emptier. Substandard fruits are sorted out by hand on the inspection belt. The apples which have been sorted according to size are then carefully placed by hand into the merchandising units.
  • By producing and processing our apples in this way, Augustin is able to fulfil the optical quality requirements of even the most critical customers.
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Do organic apples grow on big trees, like they used to?

No. In organic apple farming "small-crowned" trees with slow growing roots are used. The big seedling trees are beautiful and have a positive impact on the landscape but their fruits are not as mature and tasty as those from the "small-crowned" trees which we use.

Type 9 (specialist term in fruit farming, means tree with slow growing root) also provides organic fruit farmers and apple consumers with a variety of advantages:

  • The entire production process is easier if it can be carried out from the ground and not from a tall ladder.
  • Many more fruits hang in the sun (approx. 80 %) than on a big tree (approx. 20 %). As a result they have a better colour and taste.
  • The fruits are situated much closer to the trees' central axis (trunk) and are therefore more regularly provided with nutrients.
  • Rock flour is sprayed in order to stimulate the production of phenols (antibodies against fungus) on the skin. This can be much better applied. The apples are more resistant.
  • Experiments at the Fruit Farming Research Centre in Jork have shown that the first harvest of organic apples, that is, the apples which have ripened in the sun, are just as suitable for storage as conventional apples, that have received a chemical or synthetic storage treatment. Therefore, our aim has to be to produce as many sun-ripened apples from small trees as possible, in order to generate natural protection against storage fungi.
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Why are organic apples not as cheap as apples cultivated according to conventional methods?

Organic fruit farming requires a lot more manual labour.

Most of this work goes into working without herbicides. Mulch plants, which deprive the tree of too many nutrients and too much water have to be removed with machines, hacks and spades or by hand directly next to the trunk.

Organic pesticides are more difficult to apply and less effective than chemical and synthetic ones. Therefore the yields fluctuate and infected fruits often have to be picked off by hand. Due to the fact that hormonal thinning-out methods are not used during the blossoming period, overabundant apples have to be thinned out by hand.

Fast-dissolving nitrogen fertilisers are not applied in organic farming and therefore the apples grow more slowly and remain smaller overall. Fewer apples are harvested because areas which were planted with apples beforehand are cultivated with woody hedges and flowering herbs. This promotes organic biodiversity and protects the orchards from pests.
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Why "frost-protection irrigation"?

It is not unusual for late or night frost to occur in May or even June, when the blossoming season has already begun. This can destroy a large part of the blossoms or damage already existing fruits. As soon as temperatures drop to below zero, the sprinkler system is turned on in order to supply the entire orchards with water.

The water around the blossoms freezes, whereby heat calories are released and the sensitive flowers are enclosed by a frost-resistant protective shield. Irrigation has to continue until the outside temperatures have risen to above zero again.

Therefore during long frost nights long icicles form and one is able gaze in wonder at bizarre shapes in the morning sunlight.

It is well worth it for the Augustin farm to be situated in an area which is so abundant with water. Over the course of the years, three reservoirs were built in order to provide enough water for frost nights. However, the reservoirs are not only used for irrigation purposes. The Augustins have planted an array of local trees around the reservoirs, their banks are lined with a collection of rare plants and their waters teem with frogs, pike, bass and a variety of other organisms.
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Why have the good old apple varieties actually disappeared from the market?

Every consumer is able to discover that the range of apples on offer in the supermarkets has shrunk to only a few different varieties during the last few years. However, the consumers themselves are not completely free of blame: the food retail trade demands varieties which look good and are always in supply, which are resistant to transport and have a long shelf life. The Augustins also used to cultivate Goldparmäne, Herbstprinz, Glockenäpfel and many more. However, when these varieties are unsaleable, even to customers who value a healthy diet and are interested in environmental issues, they are exchanged for other varieties.

Weekly market sellers can confirm that only 10 % of the old varieties are sold and over 90 % of Elstar, Jonagold and other new varieties. Even in taste tests the new varieties always do really well.

It is however very important that the diversity of the old apple varieties is maintained for future cultivation.

Meadow orchards are likewise a very significant element with regard to landscaping. Eckard Brandt has been cultivating standard tree orchards and old varieties for several years, within the context of the Boomgarden Project.
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What is the best way to store organic apples?

A cool and moist storage facility is missing in almost every household these days. In modern flats and houses the cellar is usually too warm and dry.

The best thing to do is to pack the apples into a perforated plastic bag and store this in the vegetable drawer in your fridge or on your terrace, the balcony or in the shed. For this purpose, even frost of up to minus 4 degrees Celsius is no problem for the apples.
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The skin of some apples is shiny and has a fatty feel to it. Have these been waxed?

NO, our apples are not waxed. Of course not!

The wax coating on apples occurs due to a natural process: even after they have been harvested, apples continue to ripen. During this metabolic process the apples excrete a substance which becomes perceptible as a fatty layer on the skin. This wax coating is natural and does not pose any health risks whatsoever.

The thickness of this waxy layer depends on the variety: Ambassy, Jonagold, Holsteiner Cox, Topaz and Gravensteiner tend more towards forming waxy layers, whereas Elstar, Boskoop and Pinova are less prone to this.
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Are organic apples better for humankind and the environment?

Yes. Many of the active ingredients which are used in chemically synthesised pesticides in conventional cultivation can be detected on the apples as such. Even if permitted threshold values are rarely exceeded in German apples, many toxicologists take a critical view of this. They consider many of the threshold values to be too high, particularly with regard to children.
Today people come into contact with an increasing amount of synthetic chemical compounds which place strain on the immune system. Organic apples, on the other hand, are only treated with natural substances which do not influence the body’s own defence mechanisms. An increasing number of people develop food intolerances, even to apples. These symptoms cannot be triggered by a food allergy because our apples are well-tolerated by these individuals. … Schmidt from Buxtehude: “I hadn’t eaten a single apple for the last 15 years and I’m glad that I discovered Augustin organic apples. I can eat these without any problems whatsoever!” See also “Our product allergenicity”.

Klaus Runow, Head of the Institute for Environmental Diseases (IFU) in Bad Emstal, is familiar with these types of phenomena: “Particularly people who have accumulated toxins in their bodies react sensitively to residual agricultural chemicals.” (taz 26.10.2001). Pesticides have the peculiarity of passing into the interior of the fruit instead of only clinging to the outside. In so doing, they form such strong chemical compounds with cell wall components that not even laboratory staff are able to break them. They remain hidden. According to Heinrich Sandermann, Head of the Institute for Biochemical Plant Pathology at the GSF Research Center for Environment and Health in Neuherberg, these bound residues should also be taken into consideration. Since they occur in much higher quantities than the unbound ones. Therefore the threshold values can be greatly exceeded (taz 26.10.2001).

Hermann Kruse, Director of the Institute for Toxicology at the University of Kiel: “Some of the substances which are permitted in Germany have a hormonal effect.” It is assumed that these are jointly responsible for the reduced fertility in human beings and animals which was detected in the last decades. Even the slightest traces can suffice (taz 26.10.2001).
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Are organic apples healthier? Organic apples are healthier!

Organic apples contain more fibrous substances (higher dry matter content) and less water than conventional apples, which provides clear health benefits e.g. for intestinal activity. A Swiss study illustrates: on average organic apples possess a 19% higher phenolic acid content. Phenolic acid ranks among those secondary plant substances which develop a cancer-inhibiting effect in the human body. By means of so-called picture forming methods the inner quality of foods can be made visible. Scientific investigations have shown that juice made from organic apples clearly and reproducibly leaves behind different pictures than juice which is conventionally produced. Conventional juice often draws structures which also appear in cases of older, substandard fruit.
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Does organic cultivation have an impact?

We have been committed to the cultivation of fruit on our farm for many years. Before we converted to organic farming more than 20 years ago we had applied conventional farming methods i.e. we are easily able to compare these two systems with one another. Since the conversion we can see how the soil has changed. It is significantly looser and livelier than before, it has an ideal crumb structure and is easier to cultivate. This is clearly due to successful composting. Even the biodiversity in the apple trees has increased significantly, particularly the number and variety of insects. Our refrained use of any herbicides whatsoever is also noticeable. Today we have substantially more plant species on our farmland than during conventional times, which is also due to the uncultivated field margins. For many years students at the University of Hamburg conducted investigations into the populations of birds, mice, locusts, amphibians and dragonflies in the region. Their results confirm our observations, namely that organic farming has an enormous impact on biodiversity.

Katrin Augustin: “Even the apples themselves have changed. When our apples were still being cultivated according to conventional standards, I didn’t have to add any water during steaming; these same varieties have changed so much as a result of organic conditions that they have a firmer flesh and I even have to add water when I steam them. A result of their increased dietary fibre content. This is why we have to change all our apple recipes”.
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Can apples become contaminated when they are sold at the side of the road?

Many consumers are afraid that apples which are sold next to busy roads are more contaminated with pollutants. To answer this question we conducted scientific investigations in cooperation with a well-known food laboratory. For one week we exposed apples to the environmental conditions which exist outside the entrances of retailers, partly on streets with very heavy traffic. The results were conclusive: an increase in contaminants, due to the apples being displayed near a street, could not be detected.

Details of the analysis:

A total of 5 analyses were conducted with apples:
- for one week in winter a sample was exposed to the environmental conditions outside the entrance of a retailer in Berlin located on an intersection with extremely heavy traffic
- for one week in spring a sample was exposed to the environmental conditions outside the entrance of a retailer located on a street with a moderate amount of traffic in a small North German town
- for one week in spring a sample was exposed to the conditions inside a retailer located in a small North German town
- a sample was taken directly after being delivered to the same retailer.

No pollutants such as heavy metals etc., which present a marked health risk, could be detected. At the same time all the samples showed harmless traces of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in very small quantities. Significant differences could not be detected in the samples i.e. the PAH contents in apples located in front of the entrances, those located inside and those which had just been delivered do not differ significantly (the values of the sample sold in front of the entrance were in fact the lowest). Therefore the display of apples in front of the entrances did not lead to an increase in pollutants.

The scientific justification for the lack of differences between the samples is that the volatile PAHs are available ubiquitously i.e. everywhere. In front of buildings, inside buildings and on open fields. PAHs are generated by the incineration of fossil fuels and natural substances and can be considered harmless in small quantities.

A scientist made the following comment regarding the samples arranged by us: “If you walk past a barbecue in summer and take a deep breath you will inhale much larger quantities of PAHs than when you eat a kilogram of apples which has been displayed directly next to a street with extremely heavy traffic for one week.”
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