Published: 23:16, 01 November 2019
| Updated: 10:22, 20 November 2019
The harvest for British apples and pears finished at the beginning of November but have you ever wondered what happens to all of the fruit once it has been hand-picked from their orchards?
In an article published Wednesday, November 13 for Country Life magazine written by HRH The Prince of Wales to mark his 71st birthday, Prince Charles says, “It is unreasonable to expect an increasingly urban population to understand and support food production in the countryside if we fail to explain it properly.”
Here’s an insight into life at Goatham's.
Weather for the harvest this year was less than perfect with cloudy skies and wet weather hindering fruit ripening, creating muddy conditions in and around the orchards, and also slowing down harvest teams.
The teams work through each orchard typically two or sometimes three times, carefully selecting and picking by hand all of the ripe and best quality apples and pears.
Once picked, the race is on to move fruit as quickly as possible to the Controlled Atmosphere Cold Storage units located at some of the 25 individual farms as well as Goatham’s home at Flanders Farm in Hoo.
The fruit is placed as picked in their fruit bins and stacked floor to ceiling in these giant fridges, which quickly removes the field heat from the fruit and effectively makes it go to sleep.
Goathams’ team of experts then carefully monitor the fruit and look for any changes, so that it remains in perfect condition until it is needed.
Throughout the year, the apples and pears are taken from storage and transported to the packhouse at Hoo.
Some varieties of apples store differently to others which is why you will only see some varieties such as Discovery for a very short period on the supermarket shelves at the beginning of the British apple season in August/September whilst others - such as British Royal Gala - are available for much longer, tasting as crisp and juicy as the day they were picked.
Last year in an industry first, Goatham's supplied supermarkets with their British Royal Gala apples for 48 weeks of the year, and their British Bramley cooking apples for 52 weeks, helping to ensure Britain has a safe and sustainable supply of healthy and home-grown fruit.
There are many other delicious British varieties to try throughout the year.
Why not look out for Goathams’ Zari, Cameo or the exciting and brand-new Flanders Pink which will be available soon.
Using the latest technology, robotics and machinery, Goathams’ apples or pears are gently floated into their pre-grader machines.
A giant camera on the machine takes around 20 images of the individual fruit per second, before telling a computer cradle which of the 36 water channels the fruit needs to be carefully dropped into.
This means the fruit is sorted by colour, size and weight and also checked for imperfections.
Fruit is then carefully floated back into the fruit bins and sent to the next stage of the process which is for packing and distribution in the company’s own fleet of chilled vehicles, to depots across the UK.
By making sure their fruit is hand-picked and by investing in the latest cold storage, grading
and packing equipment and machinery, Goatham's are producing a top-quality British apple and pear that reaches shoppers in tip-top condition, so you can grab a pack and go.
These perfectly healthy little snacks are packed full of flavour and are great for all of the
family to enjoy, so support your Kent farming industry and grab a bag of Goathams’ goodness today.
More by this authorKentOnline reporter