If you love the taste of biting into a fresh and crispy apple and enjoy eating them regularly, you'll know that there's just one problem with these delicious fruits: it takes minutes for a sliced apple to start turning brown. Keeping these sweet fruits white, crisp, and delicious is tricky!
Discoloration begins almost immediately after you cut an apple. The longer it is exposed to air, the more the apple changes - not only it makes this fruit look unappetizing but also changes it in other ways; how it tastes, smells, and even the nutritional value.
Apples have so many great benefits: they can help rein in cholesterol, they're nutritious, and can even help you prolong a workout!
With all of this and delicious taste, you'd want to get these fruits into your diet regularly. If only they'd stay looking and tasting lovely after you slice them up!
Why do apples turn brown?
- Like pears, bananas, and peaches, apples are a fruit that contains large quantities of an enzyme known as polyphenol oxidase.In layman's terms - this enzyme helps to protect the fruit from infection and discoloration.
- Enzymes are stored in separate areas in the plants' cells. When these cells become damaged through trauma like being squeezed, dropped, or sliced open, they are ruptured, and the enzyme is released.
- Once the enzyme mixes with oxygen, it triggers a chemical reaction that produces melanins and turns areas of the fruit brown.
- This process is called enzymatic browning, and it usually doesn't have good results. Nobody finds an apple that's turned brown very appetizing!
- However, other foods benefit from it, such as dried fruits, cacao, and some teas.
This is a natural process that happens because of something already inside the fruit, so it is tricky to figure out how to keep sliced apples from turning brown.
Not all apples brown
Most of us have experienced an apple turning brown at some point. But, did you know that there are apples in the world that don't brown?
There is a type of apple called the Opal, created in the Czech Republic in the 1990s. In recent years it became cultivated in the United States.
Opal apples are a hybrid between the Golden Delicious and Topaz apples. It doesn't brown in mere minutes because it doesn't contain as much of the “browning” enzyme.
There are also genetically modified apples that don't brown.
In 2017, a fruit company called Okanagan Specialty Fruits figured out how to keep cut apples from turning brown by genetically modifying them. They began selling these apples under the Arctic Apples brand.
The genetically modified apples received mixed feedback. Some people are excited about this concept, and others are anti-GMO.
So, unless you live in the US, or you're okay with eating futuristic genetically modified apples (and can find them), you are stuck with finding some old fashioned methods to keep apples from browning.
Try these methods to keep your apples crisper and fresher for longer:
Method 1: Easy-peasy lemon squeezy
Lemons contain a natural antioxidant called citric acid. Antioxidants prevent the oxidation process in fruit and can keep apples from browning.
This is how you keep apples fresh with this super simple method:
- Use a ratio of 1 tablespoon of lemon juice for every cup of water to make a water bath for your apples.
- Peel your apples and cut them into slices. The quickest and safest way to do that is by using an apple peeler and slicer.
- Soak the apple slices in the water bath for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Drain the water, rinse the apple slices, and enjoy!
How long do apples last when you use this method? If you soak your apples in a lemon bath like this, it should prevent browning for several hours on end!
Bonus tip: If you don't have lemons on hand, you can use any other juicy fruit that contains citric acid. Oranges, limes, and pineapples are ideal.
Watch out:these juices may give your apple slices a slightly tart flavor, so if you decide to use any of them, it's best to use them on sweeter apples.
Method 2: Fizzy drinks for extra flavor
Some carbonated drinks like ginger ale, seltzer water, and Sprite contain citric acid, so you can use it in the same way as a lemon water bath to prevent browning:
- Peel and slice your apples.
- Soak the slices in a bowl of whichever soda you prefer for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Rinse the apple slices first, or eat them as is. The taste of the drink will add a new dimension to the fruit's flavor!
Method 3: Slow down oxidation with salt
If you're wondering how to preserve apples naturally, salt could be the answer.
Salt is one of nature's preservatives, and it can also help slow down the process of oxidation. Since most households have salt on hand, this is one of the most accessible methods.
This is how to keep apples fresh using salt:
- Peel and slice your apples.
- Spread the cut slices out on a plate.
- Sprinkle fine salt over the apple flesh.
If you use around a tablespoon of salt or less per apple, it shouldn't make the apples taste too salty. If it does, rinse it off!
Method 4: Wrap it up
A physical barrier between the apple slices and the air will help prevent and slow down the oxidation process because it stops the apples from coming into contact with oxygen. Saran wrap or any clear plastic wrap is perfect for this!
For best results, follow these simple steps:
- Lay the plastic wrap out before you start peeling and slicing the apples.
- As soon as you cut them, lay the apples on the plastic.
- Wrap them up as tightly as possible to prevent air from getting in.
Method 5: Rubber band
If you're wondering how to store apples on the way to work or school if you've sliced them, look no further than the humble rubber band!
Just like you wrap up your apple slices in plastic, using the rubber band method keeps the apples relatively free from oxygen that causes them to turn brown.
- With this method, you should not peel your apple.
- After you slice it, reassemble the apple into an entire apple shape.
- Wrap your rubber band tightly around the apple; the idea is to keep as much air away from the white flesh as possible.
An apple a day...well, you know!
With these tips and tricks, you'll be eating crisp, fresh fruit without worrying about it turning brown and yucky.
It's also a surefire way of getting one of their 5-a-day into the kids in their school lunches!
And if your apples happen to turn brown, you can still eat them!
Don’t just settle for eating browned apples - try our methods to keep apples from turning brown!