Friday, March 6, 2020

Apples as a source of Vitamin C

A rose bush loaded with hips. This bush is located on M-100 beside I-69
People rarely consider apples as a source of Vitamin C.

In temperate regions we usually consider growing things like rose hips or black currents. Both are fine sources of Vitamin C but both have issues. Black currents have a relatively short harvest season and you better be on top of your game. Rose hips will wait for you but are not pleasant to pick due to the thorns.

There are reasons for that.

For one thing, most apples only have 5mg/100 grams of fresh fruit of Vitamin C. To get the RDA of 60mg from just apples, you would have to eat 1.2 kilos of apples.
Red Belle de Boskoop
There are some apples, however, that are significantly richer in Vitamin C than most. For example, Belle de Boskoop, Bramley Seedling and Calville Blanc consistently measure over 15mg/100g fresh and sometimes measure twice that amount. Instead of having to eat 1.2kg of apples, now you are looking at eating two, 200g apples a day.

That merits a second look at apples.

Apples are very productive
Roses might produce 2000 pounds of rose hips (wet weight) per acre. Those hips, fresh off the bush with the seeds still in them might measure 400mg/100g of fruit. That would produce 3600 grams of ascorbic acid per acre, per year.

Apples will consistently produce over 40,000 pounds of apples per acre.

Let's change the units to something a layman might understand. After all, who is going to grow an acre of roses?

Most people reading this blog can visualize a two-car garage. A typical two-car garage is 24'-by-24' or 576 square-feet.

Planted to Rosa canina, 576 square feet would produce enough Vitamin C to provide about 26 man-months of the US-RDA of 60mg/day.

Planted to an apple cultivar that produces 20mg/100g of fruit, that same 576 square feet has the potential to produce that same 26 man-months of Vitamin C.

I contend that the average person is far more likely to pick and eat apples than to pick, clean, dry and make tea from rose hips.

The three apple cultivars listed are late apples and store well, but by April they are running out of time. So if you look at Oct, Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar...that is six months. 26/6 is about four people. After April first there will be greens available and such.

Hat-tip to Lucas Macias for finding some academic papers.
Scion for these three cultivars can be found HERE. Unfortunately, the website is not that well designed. You are supposed to click on the image of the fruit to drill through to the order page.


  1. Saurkraut is an excellent source of vitamin C
    Something about the fermentation process.

  2. Aside from citrus here (fall/winter), we have a lovely acerola cherry (Barbados cherry, summer) that is very high in C, and makes a good jelly. Good foliage, prolific fruit production, although we are at the northern edge of its range. We had wild rose hips in VT for late summer, and rhubarb for spring. A very important nutrient that C.


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