How to Keep an Apple from Turning Brown

Apples are a healthy and delicious snack, but nobody likes a brown apple. Learn how to keep your apples from turning brown with this simple tips.

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One of the most common complaints about cut apples is that they turn brown and look unappetizing. This browning is caused by a reaction between the enzymes in the apple and oxygen in the air. There are a few different ways to prevent or slow down this browning process.

One way to keep apples from turning brown is to coat them in an acidic juice such as lemon juice, orange juice, or pineapple juice. This acid creates a barrier between the apple and the oxygen, slowing down the browning reaction.

Another way to keep apples from turning brown is to store them in a plastic bag with a piece of bread. The bread will act as a sponge, absorbing the oxygen and keeping it away from the apples.

Finally, you can keep apples from turning brown by storing them in a mixture of water and sugar. This solution creates an environment that is not conducive to the browning reaction.

The Science of Browning

When an apple is cut, or bruised, its cells are broken, and enzymes that are normally kept separate mix together and begin to break down polyphenols. Polyphenols are compounds that give fruits and vegetables their colors. When they are exposed to oxygen, they turn brown.

The Enzymatic Reaction

When an apple is cut (or bruised), oxygen is introduced into the cells of the fruit. This oxygen interacts with enzymes in the apple, causing a chemical reaction that turns the flesh brown.

One way to prevent this from happening is to coat the cut apple with a substance that inhibits the enzymes. This could be as simple as lemon juice, which contains citric acid. Other common inhibitors are salt, vinegar, and ascorbic acid (vitamin C).

Another way to slow down or prevent browning is to reduce the amount of oxygen that comes in contact with the apple flesh. This can be done by keeping the apple submerged in water or by sealing it in an airtight container.

The Maillard Reaction

The Maillard reaction is a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that gives browned food its distinctive flavor. The reaction begins with the amino acid reacting with the sugar to produce a brown compound called a melanoidin.

In order to prevent browning, you need to stop the Maillard reaction from happening. There are a few ways to do this:

-Keep food in an acidic environment: Acidic environments prevent the amino acids and sugars from reacting in the first place. This is why adding lemon juice or vinegar to cut fruits can help keep them from turning brown.

-Keep food in a controlled environment: By keeping food cold or by keeping oxygen away from it, you can also prevent the Maillard reaction from happening. This is why vacuum sealing foods can help keep them fresher for longer periods of time.

-Use antioxidants: Antioxidants react with the products of the Maillard reaction and prevent them from causing browning. This is why adding vitamin C to cut fruits can help keep them from turning brown.

Ways to Prevent Browning

Acidic Solutions

Acidic solutions such as lemon juice, lime juice, and orange juice contain ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Ascorbic acid slows down the enzymatic browning reaction. To use an acidic solution to prevent browning, you need to soak the fruit in the solution.

Lemon juice is the most acidic of the three and will keep apples from browning the longest. Lime juice is less acidic, so it won’t keep apples from browning as long as lemon juice will. Orange juice is the least acidic of the three, so it will prevent apples from browning for a shorter period of time.


One of the ways to keep an apple from turning brown is to use antioxidants. Antioxidants are substances that can prevent or slow damage to cells caused by free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that the body produces when it breaks down food or is exposed to tobacco smoke and radiation.

The body also needs antioxidants to help neutralize free radicals. Free radicals are thought to play a role in heart disease, cancer, and other chronic conditions. Foods that contain high levels of antioxidants include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Some common antioxidants are vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and selenium.

Modified Atmospheres

One way to keep apples from turning brown is to store them in a modified atmosphere. A modified atmosphere is an airtight container that has had the air removed and replaced with nitrogen or carbon dioxide. This can prolong the freshness of the fruit by slowing down the oxidation process. It’s important to note that modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) will not keep apples from turning brown forever, but it can buy you some extra time.


There are many ways to keep an apple from turning brown. Some methods are more effective than others, and some produce better results. Overall, best way to keep an apple from browning is to coat it in lemon juice or another acidic fruit juice. This will prevent the enzymes in the apple from oxidizing and causing it to turn brown.

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