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16 Surprising Fruit Facts You Might Not Know

1) Most commercial fruits are clones.

Which, when you actually look at supermarket displays of perfectly identical apples and oranges and peaches, isn’t that shocking. Producers want specific varieties of fruit, called cultivars (say, Fuji apples or Bosc pears) to remain perfectly consistent, without all the unpredictable genetic mutations you get with old-fashioned sexual reproduction (pollinating flowers, planting seeds, and seeing what the heck comes up).

2) The clone tree armies are grown by grafting.

If you ate a Macintosh apple and planted the seed, the tree it grew would produce apples that looked and tasted nothing like Macintoshes. So, instead of planting seeds, growers attach a cutting from the genetically desirable tree onto an existing branch or sapling (called the “rootstock”) so that the grafted bit produces apples genetically identical to those on the tree it was cut from. If you look closely at the tree in the photo, you can see that there are multiple types of apples on the different branches, all grafted onto one rootstock tree.

With seedless fruit, like some citrus, the necessity of grafting is even more extreme: Since the trees don’t produce seeds (originally a genetic mutation that was noticed and propagated because it’s so darn convenient), they’re incapable of reproducing without being cloned by humans.

3) Not all oranges are orange.

In sub-tropical growing regions (like Brazil, the country that grows the most oranges in the world) there are never temperatures cold enough to break down the chlorophyll in the fruit’s skin, which means it may still be yellow or green even when it’s ripe. But because American consumers can’t fathom such a phenomenon, imported oranges get treated with ethylene gas to get rid of the chlorophyll and turn them orange.

This also means that Florida oranges tend to be yellower than California oranges, because they’re grown further south.

4) Cherry farmers hire helicopter pilots to air-dry their trees after it rains so that the cherries don’t split open.

 Dave Preston / peachlandnews.com

Pilots get paid hundreds of dollars a day to be on stand-by during the summer in case it rains and trees need an emergency blow-drying. It sounds ridiculous, but it’sworth it for farmers who raise the delicate, expensive fruit. The job is dangerous; pilots are often injured in orchard crashes.

5) Japanese Yubari cantaloupes are the most expensive fruit in the world; two melons once sold at auction for $23,500.

People in Japan pay astronomical prices for luxury fruit like tattooed apples and coddled cantaloupes, usually given as gifts. Demand has dropped in recent years, but the numbers are still pretty staggering. Get a closer look at one of these fancy fruit parlors here.

6) Bananas get artificially ripened (after being shipped) to one of seven “shades” of ripeness.

Bananas are shipped green because they’re too delicate and perishable otherwise, so distribution facilities use extremely precise storage technology to then trick bananas into ripening before they go to market. Here’s an explanation of the colors from this very interesting tour of the Banana Distributors of New York in the Bronx (one of just three facilities that process about 2 million bananas each week for all of New York City’s stores and vendors):

“The most popular shades are between 2.5 and 3.5, but much depends on the retailer’s size and target market. The grocery chain Fairway, which sources its bananas from Banana Distributors of New York, expects to hold bananas for a couple of days, and will therefore buy greener bananas than a smaller bodega that turns its stock over on a daily basis. ‘Street vendors,’ Rosenblatt notes, as well as shops serving a mostly Latin American customer base, ‘like full yellow.’”

7) Bananas, as we know them, are in danger of being completely wiped out by disease.

Despite the fact that there are more than 1,000 banana varieties on earth, almost every single imported banana on the commercial market belongs to a single variety, called the Cavendish. These bananas became dominant throughout the industry in the 1960s because they were resistant to a fungal disease (called Panama Race One) that wiped out what had previously been the most popular banana, the Gros Michel. But signs point, pretty convincingly, to the Cavendish’s own demise within the next decade. Here’s why:

1. Cavendish bananas are sterile and seedless, so they reproduce asexually (through suckers that grow off the “mother” plant), meaning that each plant is genetically identical.

2. This lack of genetic diversity makes all Cavendish bananas vulnerable to the threat of Tropical Race Four, a new, even more devastating fungal disease.

3. Race Four has already wiped out Cavendish bananas throughout Asia and Australia. Most growers view it as only a matter of time before the disease makes its way to Latin America, where it will make short work of the plantations that supply North American consumers.

If you’re interested to know more, read this fascinating 2011 New Yorker report on growers’ efforts to cope with Race Four, or check out journalist Dan Koeppel’s bookBanana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World. And then eat a banana while tears stream down your face.

8) The apple you’re eating might be a year old.

Apples are for sale in grocery stores and farmers markets year round, even though their harvesting season (at least in the U.S.) only lasts a few months in the fall. HOW CAN IT BE? Well, increasingly sophisticated cold storage technology means it’s possible (and/or likely) that the crisp, juicy apple you’re eating in August 2013 was actually harvested in October 2012.

9) U.S. raisin farmers aren’t allowed to sell all the raisins they grow; they must contribute to a “national raisin reserve” if supply exceeds demand.

No, really. The Raisin Administrative Committee is currently pursuing a legal vendetta against farmer Marvin Horne for refusing to contribute to the reserve and selling all of his raisins instead.

This isn’t as crazy as it sounds; most fruit growers sell according to rules set by associations intended to offset market fluctuation and protect their economic interests. But raisins are naturally more reservable than fresh, perishable fruit — and the RAC seems hell-bent on getting this raisin outlaw to toe the line.

10) Donut peaches are a natural mutant peach variety, not a human-engineered fruit.

And not, alas, a cross between a donut and a peach. But they ARE delicious — firmer and more sweet and fragrant than most boring old spherical peaches. The lil flatties originated in China but have found enthusiastic fans worldwide in recent years.

11) Cranberries don’t actually grow underwater.

Despite what you might imagine based on those Ocean Spray commercials, it’s only at harvest time that sandy cranberry bogs are artificially flooded with water. Cranberries have air pockets inside that let them float, which makes them easy to pick en masse.

But that’s only for berries that are destined to be juice, jelly, Craisins, etc. Whole fresh cranberries — the kind you buy in bags at Thanksgiving — are never flooded, instead getting “dry-harvested” by picking machines that comb the berries out.

12) Cranberries do BOUNCE.

This magic property (which is thanks to the same air pockets that lets cranberries float) was discovered in 1880 by the compellingly named cranberry innovator John “Peg Leg” Webb, who dropped a bunch of cranberries down the stairs. Growers today actually still test berries’ athletic abilities to determine their quality, and sort them accordingly, with a tool called the “bounce board separator” — the higher the bounce, the better the berry.

13) Grapefruit can cause dangerous reactions with some prescription medications.

From the New York Times, last year:

“For 43 of the 85 drugs now on the list, consumption with grapefruit can be life-threatening, Dr. Bailey said. Many are linked to an increase in heart rhythm, known as torsade de pointes, that can lead to death.”

O_O

“Under normal circumstances, the drugs are metabolized in the gastrointestinal tract, and relatively little is absorbed, because an enzyme in the gut called CYP3A4 deactivates them. But grapefruit contains natural chemicals called furanocoumarins, that inhibit the enzyme, and without it the gut absorbs much more of a drug and blood levels rise dramatically.”

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14) A strawberry isn’t technically a berry, or even a fruit.

 Conrad Gessner / Wikimedia Commons / Via bbc.co.uk

[AUDIBLE GASP]

Sorry, I know it hurts, but it’s (botanically) true. Berries, by definition, have their seeds on the inside, which strawberries clearly don’t. The plant produces a fleshy “false fruit” aka pseudocarp from its flower, and what we think of as the seeds on the outside are the “true” fruits. Bottom line: Whatever, they’re delicious.

15) The leaves of the rhubarb plant are extremely poisonous.

The leaves contain kidney-damaging and potentially fatal amounts of oxalic acid, “a chemical compound found in bleach, metal cleaners and anti-rust products.” But the stalks are totally safe to eat, which, thank goodness, because they sure make tasty pie.

16) One pomegranate can hold more than 1,000 seeds.

Contrary to the Torah-based myth that every pomegranate has 613 seeds.

Source: Buzzfeed

9 Everyday Homemade Household Products

Dish soap isn’t that difficult to make yourself at home… and it costs just pennies per bottle.

1 tablespoon Borax
1 tablespoon washing soda
2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar
1/2 cup liquid castile soap
10 drops essential oil (optional)
Mixing bowl
Measuring cups and spoons
Whisk
Plastic or glass container

Measure and add the Borax and washing soda to the mixing bowl. Then add the liquid castile soap and white vinegar. Boil the water and then slowly add in the ingredients. You might want to use a whisk during this. (You can also add some scented oils at this point.)

Let the soap cool to room temperature (it will thicken as it cools).

You can make your very own room spray by using these ingredients:

A spray bottle
1 cup water
2 tablespoons alcohol
20-30 drops essential oil/s

You can use any scented oils you would like.

Pour the water, alcohol and oils into your bottle and shake it up (and make sure to shake it before you use it every time).

To make this glass cleaner all you need is:

1 cup water
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 to 3 drops Dawn dish soap
Empty spray bottle

All you do is combine the ingredients into the spray bottle… and ta-da!

The ingredients for this homemade Drain-O are pretty simple. (Note: this drain de-clogger works, but it might not be very strong.)

1/2 cup baking soda
1 cup vinegar
1 gallon boiling water

Pour the baking soda down the drain (it will begin to fizz). Then, pour 1/2 of the vinegar on the baking soda. Wait for the foaming to go down, then pour the rest of the vinegar in the drain. About 15 minutes later, you can come back and flush with a gallon of boiling water.

You can easily make your own laundry detergent (and scent it as you see fit). All you need for DIY laundry soap is:

1. One four pound twelve ounce box of Borax. You can use 2 smaller boxes. (Laundry aisle)
2. Three bars of Fels-Naptha soap. You can use any soap of your choice. (Laundry aisle)
3. one four pound box of arm & hammer baking soda.(Laundry aisle)
4. one box of arm & hammer super washing soda (Laundry aisle)
5. four pounds of Oxy Clean (one small/one large container/laundry aisle)
6. Laundry softener cyrstals for scent. You can mix these in to your laundry detergent or add them to your loads as needed. (Laundry aisle)

Grate the fels-naptha bars into a bowl, add the other ingredients and then shake/stir it all together. Then, place it into a container of your choice.

Making your own hand soap is easy, for yourself or to give away as a gift. You will need:

Bar soap (one without additional moisturizers and don’t use Dove)
Glycerin (found in the first aid section of the grocery store or pharmacy)
1 gallon of boiling water

Grate the bar of soap into a large boil while you boil the water. Add the soap shavings and the 2 tablespoons of glycerin to the boiling water and stir until all the soap melts. Remove from heat once all of the soap is melted and let it cool overnight. Then, you can spoon into containers.

If you’re addicted to using lip balm, follow these steps to make your own. It’s simpler than you may think.

Ingredients (or buy everything you need here):
Flavoring oils (we used spearmint and champagne flavors)
Shea butter
White beeswax pellets
Sweet almond oil

Tools:
Glass jar + lid
Stirring stick
Saucepan
Lip balm pots
1 teaspoon measuring spoon (these will get covered in wax)

1. Before you begin, wash and dry the small glass jar, lid, and lip balm pots.
2. Fill the saucepan with an inch of water and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium.
3. Combine 4 teaspoons beeswax, 2 teaspoons shea butter, and 3 teaspoons sweet almond oil in the glass jar. Place the jar in the saucepan and stir the mixture until it has melted.
4. Turn off the heat and add in 1/4 teaspoon of your flavor oil. If you want to make two different kinds of lip balm, split the mixture in half and add 1/8 of flavor oil into each pot.
5. Put the lid on the jar and shake!
6. Pour the melted lip balm into the lip balm pots. Let the lip balms sit for 20 minutes to harden.
7. Put these in your purse, set them on your bed-side table, or give them as gifts!

Bath bombs are all the rage, but now you can make your own instead of spending a hundred dollars at the store. Not only will they make baths amazing, but they are great as gifts.

2 tablespoons baking soda
1 tablespoon of citric acid (or 1/2 tablespoon cream of tartar)
1 tablespoon of cornstarch
1 tablespoon epsom salts (you can find this in any store these days)
1/4 teaspoon oil (you can use any light oil you like. I actually used plain ol’ canola since it’s fragrance free and wouldn’t compete with the liquid)
3/4 teaspoon liquid*
A drop or two of food colouring
A mold for the bombs (cupcake pan, tins, etc)

Mix the dry ingredients (baking soda, acid, cornstarch, and salts) into a bowl and whisk together to remove lumps.

In a small jar, shake together the wet ingredients (oil, liquid, and coloring).

While whisking, dump the wet ingredients into the dry mixture. You’ll see a slight reaction (if you’re using citric acid), but keep on whisking until the mixture has started to clump together and is completely dyed the color you added. It should still be a little crumbly which is what you want. If you add any more liquid, the citric acid will start to foam.

Spoon the mixture into a mold and pack it in as tight as you can. Allow to dry for at least 5 hours before trying to get them out of the mold. Let dry for another 4 hours before plopping one in the bath or let them dry another 1-2 days before storing them.

If your hair tangles easily and you use a lot of detangling spray, follow this recipe to make your own:

Empty spray bottle
Warm water
3 tablespoons of any conditioner

Add the conditioner to the spray bottle, then pour the warm water in directly after. The conditioner should start to liquefy. You can add oils to this mixture if you’d like it to smell more. Then, you shake it to mix everything together.

Use it on dry or wet hair to combat tangles (and make it smell awesome).

Source: Viralnova

The Most Dangerous Hiking Trail In The World…

Mt. Huashan is one of China’s five Great Mountains

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Some parts of the mountain are a little steep

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The area has been considered holy since at least the 2nd century BCE

Aaron Feen

Monks, nuns and pilgrims carved a network of stairs and trails leading to the mountain’s peaks

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The trails were reinforced after the mountain became more popular with tourists

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The mountain’s highest southern peak reaches 2,160 m (7,087 ft)

taiwandiscovery.wordpress.com

Just make sure you watch your step

Aaron Feen

In some places, the locals have carved stairs into the mountain as well

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In others, there’s little more than an iron chain to secure yourself

Aaron Feen

The mountain has a reputation for fatal falls, but that doesn’t stop thrill-seekers from flocking to its trails

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If the adrenaline gets to you, there is a chess pavilion you can relax at

Gerben’s Photos

Sources: BoredpandaTravelchinaguide