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The art of making apple flavors at the age of 20

The art of making apple flavors at the age of 20

Education. Succession looks certain at Verger Le Gros Pierre in Compton. Nohemie Gilbert, the daughter of the owners of the family business, succeeded in producing a new type of apple.

His dream was born when he was 9 years old. Then a long process began, and the result was just announced during the regional science fair, held at the University of Sherbrooke last weekend.

Noheme forms a duo with her friend Juliette Rolfe from Cookshire-Eton. They both studied natural sciences at the Séminaire de Sherbrooke (college). They improved their project there in order to share their passion with a wider audience. Their hard work paid off, as they were among the 13 winners selected to participate in the provincial final, which will be held in Montreal from April 19-21. The duo has the opportunity to travel to Ottawa for the Canada-wide Science Fair, which will be held from May 25 to June 1.

Noheme hybridized two apple varieties (Honeycrisp and Summerhead) that she liked to create a new variety that suited her. The process was very slow, and ten years later two red fruits formed on a tree that grew in the family orchard.

According to future scientists, the new fruit was very crunchy and not very juicy, but provided a very fruity taste. Underneath the very red skin, the cream-colored flesh contains a small dose of acidity.

“This bodes well for commercialization,” they hope, “but it will take another ten years before we plant enough trees and harvest enough apples to sell.”

The slow process and the harvest of only two apples do not shake Noheme and Juliet's optimism. “Eating our own apples was a wonderful experience, especially since we cannot control nature or genes. Our work could have led to nothing,” they add enthusiastically.

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In front of their booth set up at the Cultural Center of the University of Sherbrooke, Juliette and Noheme published a work that was not particularly known to the general public. By listening to their passionate explanations, visitors will bite their next apple in a different way. They will remember that the creative process is much longer than just ripening this popular fruit on the tree.

Passion for genetics

Both partners love this fruit, but they are also passionate about genetics and creating apple varieties and flavors. They talk about the apple family tree as if it were their ancestral tree. The transmission of blue eyes from one generation to another is compared to the colors and flavors of apples from one type to another. Fertilization, growth, hybridization, and genomics now appear in their vocabulary.

“One of our dreams is to produce a variety of apples distributed in grocery stores, but just as delicious and sturdy as those bought in orchards,” they say. We also want to encourage consumers to break their habits and change their purchases. »

Other apples of this variety produced in 2015 should be harvested next fall. In a sign that college students are seeing beyond the end of their noses, production of a second new apple variety has recently begun.

Nohemi already dreams of selling her new produce to the family business and to other orchards in the area. She is also considering starting university studies in health, biology or entrepreneurship. For her part, Juliet aims to obtain a bachelor's degree in law and science to ultimately defend the rights of agricultural producers.