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Granny Smith Apples

Granny Smith apple is a green skinned apple with sweet, crispy, juicy flesh which is used for cooking but can also be eaten uncooked. Granny Smith apple trees bear prolific crops and are now grown throughout the world.

In 1868 Maria Ann Smith cultivated a seedling apple which was the accidental result of seeds she scattered on the ground. Maria Smith lived at Eastwood, which was then a rural area on the outskirts of Sydney, Australia where she had an orchard from which she sold fruits. During the 1840s, it was a familiar site during that time that the people of Eastwood, Sydney seeing Maria with her garden produce in the city markets.

In the late 1830s she had migrated from England with her husband and three children, the Smiths settled on a small block in Eastwood, New South Wales, Australia  and her husband Thomas found employment in nearby Ryde, while Maria helped support the family by working the garden and selling fruits from their orchard.

How Maria came to grow the Granny Smith apple is a story surrounded by popular myth. There are two versions of how the apple evolved.
  • According to Maria’s grandson, Benjamin Spurway, who wrote to the Australian Post in 1956, Maria was given some green apples known as Tasmanian French crabs by Thomas Lawless, a fruit agent at the markets. He suggested she try them out as cooking apples.
His grandson claims that Maria dropped the skins and cores out of the kitchen window into a flowerbed. Seedlings appeared and grew into trees which produced a good cooking apple which was also found to be sweet and crisp eaten uncooked.
  • Another account, which appeared in the Farmer and Settler on the 25 June 1924, was given by a Mr H. J. Rumsey. He claimed Maria had brought back some gin cases from the markets which had some rotting Tasmanian apples in them. She tipped them out near the creek which ran through the Smith property. Here they grew into the fine specimens we know today.
Smith's grandson refuted this saying rotten apples would have been fed to the pigs who were closer than the creek and even if they had reached the creek possums would have cleaned them up before they grew.

Maria initially sold the fruit at home and it has become popular with residents of Eastwood and they flocked to her home in the days before the Ryde shops have been built and this crispy, green, juicy apples, became known as Granny Smith’s apples.

The climate at Eastwood, NSW was not optimum for the apples and Maria’s trees did not bear a great deal of fruit. In 1890s, further specimens were later cultivated by her son-in law and there were small –scale plantings in the Parramatta district.

Maria Smith died in 1870. Her apple never became a commercial variety in her lifetime but continued to be cultivated by local orchardists. Later when they were tried in Bathurst and Orange districts, they bore fruits prolifically and the trees ‘limbs' has to be propped up to bear the weight. In 1895 the Government Experimental Station at Bathurst began planting the apple on a large scale.

The Granny Smith apple has been grown commercially since 1912 and today Granny Smith apples all derived from the trees grown by Maria Ann Smith at Eastwood are grown throughout the world.



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