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Published on Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Why will Almaty in Kazakhstan hold an apple festival?

Because that is where the original wild apples come from (and are still there!)

Maybe the Garden of Eden was in Kazakhstan?

Anyway, apples have always been a big deal in Kazakhstan's biggest city and its ex-capital. In fact, the fascinating ancient city's name - Almaty - means apple place!

The many varieties of wild apple in the vicinity give scientists good reason to believe that this is where apples were first domesticated. One local wild apple in particular, Malus sieversii, has been proven through DNA analysis to be the main ancestor of the cultivated apple.

Recently collected apples - picture Dagmar Schreiber

There are apples here that have a hazelnut-like flavour. And there were some with an aniseed or liquorice quality, they can be bitter, sour or sweet, tiny or big, green, yellow or red - there is an enormous variety of tastes and scents.

Others who have tasted wild apples in Kazakhstan report fruits that taste vaguely of sweet honey - or even berries. Depending on which plants were "bred" together by the bees that randomly pollinated them, the genetic make-up of any given fruit would be slightly adjusted. This process, as with all wild fruit, results in a special mix of chemical compounds and volatiles in the apple itself that are responsible for these unique flavours.

And not only are there wonderful wild apples around Almaty, but also a particularly big and juicy apple - the Aport has been domesticated and produced in the area for ages.

Due to the particular geographical characteristics of the area (soil conditions, climate, etc.), these fruits get to be very big and tasty with a delicate aroma.  It's particularly well suited to drying for later consumption. The Aport is considered be the symbol of Almaty and, of course, it's recognised by Slow Food

The key to the Aport is its height of cultivation - between 800 metres and 1200 metres high - otherwise it's not so beautiful, so large, so scented and so tasty.

And now an apple museum has been established in Almaty to revere this, and all these other apples in their birthplace.

So apples are coming back into fashion in Almaty and as a sign of the future, two young Almaty entrepreneurs are using new media and technology in their quest to restore Kazakhstan's famous, but threatened, Aport apples.


he young businessmen launched an apple orchard with little knowledge but great enthusiasm and have since gained international attention for their work. Andrey Kim, an acquiring manager, and Timur Takabayev, an information systems architect, both earned business degrees in London before turning to farming.

Now the museum is planning on holding a massive apple festival in Almaty next September  when the harvest is coming in visitors will be guaranteed to enjoy everything succulent and Apple-ey!

Valere Tjolle

Valere is editor and publisher of this year's just released Sustainable Tourism 02


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