It Is So Cold In Michigan That Ghost Apples Are Appearing In Rare Phenomenon

Have you ever seen a ghost apple before? Few people have, yet 2019 temperatures have dropped so low in Michigan that this rare phenomenon is starting to pop up, causing a lot of surprise and curiosity around the web.

The recent obsession with ghost apples began in western Michigan near Sparta. That’s where local resident and orchard manager Andrew Sietsema came across a ‘haunting’ in his orchard while pruning apple trees in the freezing cold.

The icy apples were created as a result of freezing rain. While it looks mystical and beautiful, the ice actually formed around rotting apples that were still clinging to tree branches.

As Sietsema began pruning the ghostly apples, an icky mush slipped out the bottom– that was the rotten apple. All that remained was the crystal-clear encasing that looks like a glass apple, otherwise known as a ghost apple.

“I guess it was just cold enough that the ice covering the apple hadn’t melted yet, but it was warm enough that the apple inside turned to complete mush (apples have a lower freezing point than water),” Sietsema explained.

“And when I pruned a tree it would be shaken in the process, and the mush would slip out of the bottom of the ‘ghost apple.’”

Andrew Sietsema / FACEBOOK

Not all of the ghost apples remained attached to the tree after the mush pushed out the bottom, but some did, creating an eerily cool appearance.

The unpicked rotten apples are a variety known as Jonagold. Sietsema joked that the ice left behind could be called “Jona-ghosts.”

The apple pruner took to social media to share photos of the awesome “Jona-ghosts” and by the end of the day over 10,000 people had shared his photos.

Sietsema told TODAY Food that the ice was approximately ½-inch thick and the apples “felt like Christmas tree bulbs.”

It takes just the right weather for something like this to occur. This time of year usually brings lots of snow to western Michigan, but instead, they received a day of freezing rain.

If you’ve never experienced freezing rain before, it’s quite amazing. It’s different from hail, ice pellets or snow, in that it falls as liquid droplets but freezes on contact with surfaces.

Andrew Sietsema / FACEBOOK

According to CNN meteorologist Judson Jones, “From the icy grip of the Arctic outbreak, to above average temperatures this week, which then lead to a day of freezing rain instead of the snow western Michigan is accustomed to.”

Freezing rain has the power to glaze anything it touches with a coat of ice. In this case, the freezing rain and subzero temperatures put a frosty glaze over the rotten apples.

Within time, the mushy apple slipped out the bottom of the ice, leaving behind an icy ghost of the now-dead apple.

As cool as they are, the ‘apples’ are fragile and break easily.

Andrew Sietsema / FACEBOOK

In an interview with TODAY Food, Susan Brown, Herman M. Cohn Professor of Agriculture and Life Science at Cornell University, explained how unpicked apples decay and take on an applesauce-like consistency. “The skin keeps it in like a filled water balloon,” she said.

“What I love about this story and the excitement it generated is that it showcases all the hard work our apple growers do in all weather conditions,” gushed Brown.

If Andrew Sietsema hadn’t been out tending to the apples in freezing weather, he never would have been able to capture these incredible photos.

“Most apples just fell off, ice and all. But quite a few would leave a cool ‘ghost apple’ behind,” Sietsema shared.

Andrew Sietsema / FACEBOOK

Needless to say, more people are going to be venturing out in the orchards in freezing weather to try and find ghost apples of their own.

While a rare treat for most, ghost apples are not unheard of.

The phenomenon most commonly occurs to Golden Delicious and Jonagold apple varieties. Jonagolds are an offspring of the Golden Delicious and are known for their tartly sweet flavor and crisp texture.

Want to find ghost apples of your own? Experts predict there are many in what is known as the Ridge, an area near Sparta, Michigan that is known for apple production.

Along with ghost apples, the Great Cold Snap of 2019 has brought us many things- like frost quakes, snow squalls and steam fog. Who knows what nature will deliver us next? Stay warm out there!