First, you may wonder – why do cut apples turn brown? This is because of the oxidation process. Once the protective skin is cut then the oxygen in the air begins to react with an enzyme released from flesh of the fruit. This reaction can be slowed or even stopped in several different ways. You can keep apples from turning brown by cooking, reducing the pH level on the fruit’s surface, reducing the amount of oxygen present, or by adding preservatives. The Granny Smith apple that we cut started to brown almost instantly, some before we could even get them dipped.
How To Keep Apples From Turning Brown
Here are a few options to keep your fresh cut fruits from quickly turning brown and looking disgusting:
1) Squeeze a Lemon – squeeze some fresh citrus juice on the fresh cut fruit. A squeeze of lemon or lime will retard the browning process but also adds a slight tinge of sour flavor.
The citrus squeeze method is the most popular option, and it works great for fruit left on a plate or placed in fruit salad, but if they are wrapped in plastic the results may not be quite as desirable. I once squeezed lime on my sons baggie of cut apples and sent them to school one very hot day for lunch… that night he said I sent him poison apples!
Other acidic rubs like vinegar will also stop the browning process, but we are not a fan of the resulting flavor.
2) Dip fruit in a honey mixture – a sweet way to keep apples from turning brown. Mix 1 Tablespoon of Honey with 1/2 Cup of Water and then add the fresh cut fruit. Mix then around for a minute or two and then drain off the honey/water solution. You can re-use the water for a few fruits, but discard the water when finished. This option also works great for bananas, as it does add a slight sweet flavor to the fruit.
Fruits dipped in honey have an added sweetness that is quite pleasant. Caution: Do not do this option for fruits intended for children under 2 years old as they should NOT eat honey.
3) Keep airtight – since air is the culprit, the most important step is to keep the cut apples in an airtight container. If you use a baggie, be sure to squeeze out as much of the trapped air as possible. If you are serving in a bowl, force the plastic wrap down tight against the fruit as you cover it.
If you are making a fruit salad, make sure that any white fruits (apples, bananas, pears) are covered in liquid (like pineapple or peach juice) or at least forced below the surface of the bowl before covering.
4) Change your knife – cutlery that has some corrosion, as is seen with lower quality steel knives, can also increase the speed and amount of browning by making more iron salts available on the flesh for the reaction to occur .
5) Add preservatives, like sulfur dioxide, can be added to stop the reaction. But this is not recommended at home.
The Best Way To Keep Apples From Turning Brown
If you’re wondering what’s the best long term option, here are the same apples after being left on the counter uncovered for 24 hours. The fresh squeeze of lemon was the clear winner for longevity in keeping apples from turning brown. But the lime concentrate and the honey dipped apples still kept quite well when compared to the control group in the front.
To find out all that apples can do for your body read A dozen reasons to eat an apple a day.
To find out how long apples last see our apple page.