How to Prevent Cut Apples from Turning Brown

Prevent Apples From Browning

There is nothing like a fresh-cut, crisp apple as a healthy snack, but if you don't know how to prevent cut apples from turning brown, they may be less appealing - especially to kids.

The good news is that it's pretty simple to keep apples white when cut, but perhaps the better news is that whether an apple turns brown or not, the same health benefits are still there, so they should be enjoyed often as a snack or even as part of a meal.

With over 3 grams of fiber per apple and a boost of vitamin C, yet packing few calories, an apple is a filling food that won't harm your waistline. If you like them cut instead of eaten as a whole fruit, here are the best ways to keep apples from turning brown.

What Causes Browning?

When an apple is cut, oxygen can assist with the enzymes oxidizing phenols. What that basically means is that it takes a wound and oxygen to start the reaction. The apple's skin protects the apple, but once cut the process begins. The best ways to keep an apple white is to expose it to air as late as possible, or to neutralize the enzymes responsible.

Easiest Way to Keep Cut Fruit Fresh

The simple fact about browning fruit like apples, pears, or bananas is this. The later you cut them, the longer they will stay white. If you truly want the flesh to have its natural color when you eat it, just cut it right before your meal or snack. This is the surest way to protect the color without using any other ingredients and without any additional effort.

An apple will begin to turn brown within minutes of the inner flesh being exposed to air. This happens faster with some varieties than others. Because of this, the best plan is to cut the fruit immediately before the meal.

Once cut, apples will begin the oxidation process that causes browning quickly.
Once cut, apples will begin the oxidation process that causes browning quickly. | Source

Lemon Juice to Keep Apples from Browning

Lemon juice is an effective option to keep apples slices fresh. The reason that this works is that the acidic juice of a lemon will have a quick chemical reaction involving the enzymes in the fruit that will take away its ability to cause the brown color of the flesh.

This is true not only of lemon juice, but other acidic juices as well. Another popular choice for apples is to use pineapple juice.

To use this method, simply toss a teaspoon or two of lemon juice into a bag and shake the apple slices around for a moment to coat them. This will buy you plenty of extra time to get your apple slices to the party or to work before they become discolored.

Fresh Lime Juice and Cut Apple Slices

Lime juice is another option often used to preserve apples. Like lemon juice, lime juice is an acidic fruit juice, and it will have a similar effect on the apples. Just use a teaspoon or two to coat the apple slices and they will retain their natural color for a longer time.

While lime juice will do the trick, most people feel that diluted lemon juice has a smaller impact on the taste of the apple, so this may be a better option.

It's best to slice right before you eat, but a soak in some acidic juice will buy you time.
It's best to slice right before you eat, but a soak in some acidic juice will buy you time. | Source

Does Fruit Fresh Work to Keep Apples From Turning Brown?

Yes, the fruit preserver Fruit Fresh will work. However, any form of ascorbic acid will work as well. To make your own for very little money, use vitamin C tablets that you might find in the local drug store. They are very cheap and easy to find in generic.

To apply, simply crush a tablet and dissolve it in water. Then, give your apple slices a quick soak. The ascorbic acid bath will have the desired impact on the enzymes in the apple and keep the fruit's flesh nice and white.

Keeping Oxygen Away

Apple slices in a salad coated with something like whipped cream or mayo will not turn brown because air does not touch the fruit.

The same benefit can be achieved by using plastic wrap. If wrapped immediately after cutting, apple slices will remain white for a long time.

Sorry, but a storage container doesn't work very well. They simply hold too much oxygen.

Cut Apple Slices in Water

Since oxygen is a key component of the browning process, eliminating exposure to oxygen is another way to prevent apple browning until it is time to serve. This is as easy as cutting the fruit and immediately dropping it into a bowl of water.

The idea is simple. The water will prevent oxygen from touching the fruit, and the oxidation process that turns the fruit brown cannot commence. Using water may not be practical depending on where the apples will be consumed, but for around the house this method works fine.

The same oxidation process can be prevented with other oxygen blockers as well. For example, a classic apple salad made with grapes, marshmallows, and whipped cream keeps apples white because the cool whip coating acts to block the oxygen from hitting the fruit.

Top Ways to Prevent Apple Browning

The best way to eat an apple that is not brown is to eat it fresh and cut it right at mealtime. However, if that is not an option, here is a quick review of the best ways to keep perfect apple color.

  • coat with a small amount of acidic juice like lemon, lime, or pineapple juice
  • coat with a diluted ascorbic acid mixture
  • soak cut apple slices in a water bath to block air
  • wrap cut apples in airtight plastic wrap immediately

Depending on how long you have until the apples are served, one of these options should do the trick.

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Comments 5 comments

peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

thanks for the tips. My unfinished apple slices always turn brown by the end of the day. Now, i will add lime / lemon juice. All the while, i added salt to them! Voted useful


landocheese profile image

landocheese 3 years ago Author

Many say that a light salt-water bath will help also to keep apples from turning brown, so this may be a viable option. I just choose to avoid salt myself.


housexpert 3 years ago

Let's reverse this. Want to stop brown sugar from going hard. Or even salvage hard brown sugar - add a browned apple slice/s or maybe more. Don't let them go to waste! May your new year be filled with brown sugar and apples. Hmmmm breakfast time eh! DHL


landocheese profile image

landocheese 3 years ago Author

I love that! A reason to have brown apples. Thanks for the comment.


vespawoolf profile image

vespawoolf 3 years ago from Peru, South America

I've never thought to use pineapple juice to prevent browning. Dropping slices in a bowl of water is a great idea, too. Thanks!

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