New Year’s Crop

Our apple tree (which a few weeks ago was humming with bees) is now bursting with fruit. Seasons come and go quietly in the tropics, but here we are on January 1 – with hundreds of apples.

This is an otaheite apple tree, which is also known as a Malay Apple, Pommerac, etc. It bears no resemblance to, say, a Golden Delicious.
This is an otaheite apple tree, which is also known as a Malay Apple, Pommerac, etc. It bears no resemblance to, say, a Golden Delicious.

I took a couple of photos, which actually don’t do justice to the huge number of apples on our tree. But the thing is, we are not actually going to eat many of them…

So who will partake of this tasty fruit, you may ask?

I have done a little calculation, and the breakdown of consumers of our apples goes as follows:

Bats (fruit bats)……………………………………………………………….10 %

Birds (many kinds)…………………………………………………………..15 %

Dogs (after they have fallen)……………………………………………….30 %

Wasted (they mostly fall on a hard surface and are ruined then)…..25 %

Human beings (mainly the Lewises)…………………………………….20 %

Apple thieves (mango thieves being far more common)……………….0 %

It goes roughly like this. At night, the bats swoop back and forth, grabbing what they can. One night, sensing competition perhaps, our dogs managed to catch and kill one. This was quite upsetting; bats are in general quite endangered globally, like many other small creatures – frogs and the like. Unlike the dogs, we don’t mind sharing a few apples with them; although they are quite messy – they tend to do their toilet in mid-air, which is not pleasant. I was sad to find the creature’s little round body and tiny wings.

In the daytime, the tree is full of birds, large and small. They all seem to enjoy nibbling at the fruit, which eventually fall and are of course unusable. The Jamaican Oriole is partial to apples, and so are the little warblers. But why don’t they just eat the whole darn thing and be done with it? We don’t want the birds’ leftovers.

Then there are the dogs – the true scavengers of our yard. Of course, they much prefer mangoes, but have acquired a taste for apples. They are already eating the tiny fruit that have already fallen much too soon, and crunch the stones. Yum.

Then there’s us, the humans. The ones who actually planted the tree and own it and its contents. We are the last in line, and the best we can do is try to pick as many whole fruit as we can before the other creatures consume them.

Captain Bligh of the "Bounty" (1754-1817)
Captain William Bligh of the “Bounty” (1754-1817)

Now, a little education for non-Jamaican readers: the otaheite apple is actually indigenous to the Pacific islands (otaheite is an archaic name for Tahiti). Like the breadfruit, it was introduced to the Caribbean. Captain Bligh does not have a great reputation historically – the Mutiny and all that; but apparently it was he who brought the otaheite apple tree and the breadfruit tree to our fair island in the eighteenth century. So he was a good guy in some ways. Thanks, Billy (if I may call you that…)

An otaheite apple. If you plant the stone it is easy to grow another tree.
An otaheite apple. If you plant the stone it is easy to grow another tree.

Frankly, Jamaican apples are not as flavorsome as a Cox’s Orange Pippin or a Golden Russet or a Pearmain. They consist largely of water, like cucumbers, so they have that cool, bland taste. But they are incredibly refreshing when made into juice – delicate pink and slightly sweet – with a dash of ginger in it. And you can jazz them up a bit for desserts etc. I once stewed some with honey, but my family was not keen. The darkest red ones are the sweetest. Plus, unlike mangoes, they don’t have many calories. But then it’s always the boring food that has the least calories isn’t it?

The other thing about our apples is – they are incredibly delicate. The skin is very thin and is easily broken, and the white flesh rots easily. When ripe they have a very short shelf-life in our climate. Juice ’em all as quickly as you can, I say!

Once the bats, birds and dogs have done their worst, that is… I sometimes wonder if it’s worth the bother.

This is otaheite apple sorbet. Looks pretty, anyway.
This is otaheite apple sorbet. Looks pretty, anyway.














Related articles: (Otaheite! Recipes etc: Gleaner) (The Benefits of Otaheite Apples: Gleaner) (Feeling Fruity) (A Tale of Two Soursops)

The Last Sunday of the Year: December 30, 2012 (

Fighting on the Home Front (

The In-Between Blues: Freewheeling down to 2013 (

A Great “Dig” for Jamaican Bloggers (


Enough apples already!
Enough apples already!

15 thoughts on “New Year’s Crop

  1. LOl I loved the break down … every time someone offers me an american apple here I shake my head in dismay … dry ol’ things ….. I so miss my juicy otaheites back home! lol Enjoy them when you can though!

    So funny noone steals apples hmmnnn


    1. Well, I love the “American” apples too – as I grew up on them at home in the UK. There are hundreds of different varieties with different flavors – you should try a few out. Cox’s Orange Pippin was always my favorite, not sure if they have it in the U.S. I guess they are dryer than our Jamaican apple – but then as I mentioned, otaheite apples are 90 per cent water! No, no one steals our apples but the tree is hidden away a bit. People who know do ask us for apples though. Several people have picked some, so the bats aren’t having it all their own way!


      1. lolol well I guess that’s why I love em! JUICYYYY 🙂
        Hmnnnn Maybe I’ll try one here, maybe

        In other news Congrats on your nominations 😀 You’re an amazing blogger!


  2. My favourite apples — that’s because I am a Portlander where the sweetest, juiciest, blackest Ethiopia apples grow!!! 🙂 Yours are early, I wish I lived next door as I would happily compete with the bats and birds (though definitely NOT the dogs) for a few juicy bites. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!


    1. Yes, the black ones are the most delicious aren’t they. I guess they do well in Portland because they love lots of water/rain. I am amazed that ours in the middle of Kingston does so well! Happy New Year to you too dear Barbara!


  3. Hi Emma, HAPPY NEW YEAR

    Can you share with me how you post your blog in your email the way you do it?

    Do leave a message on my last note here !

    But instead of posting a link I want the page to be in the email like yours! 🙂   Kofi Walker Founder  / Artistic Director AIR & PA-ASA Foundation Limited Contact: 1876 405 2800 

    Even in today’s world, beauty and truth can still be found and the first place to start looking is within my own self.



    1. Hi Kofi:

      Everyone who subscribes to my blog will receive each new post in their email. That is why you are receiving it – thanks for subscribing!

      I don’t do it myself personally – WordPress just do it automatically. I have about 200 subscribers I think, so they all get an email from me, each time.

      Does that make sense?

      Best wishes,



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