No matter how fresh and crisp apples are, they aren’t appetizing once they’ve turned brown—which takes a grand total of about two minutes. Unfortunately, browning isn’t just unappealing, it also alters the apple’s taste and nutritional value. But why does your favorite fall fruit brown so quickly? When an apple is cut, enzymes (and iron in the apple) chemically react with oxygen. The fruit quickly begins to oxidize, and its flesh turns brown. Essentially, the apple begins to rust right before your eyes.
It's enough of a problem that the USDA recently approved an apple that's genetically modified to not brown when sliced (it's America's first approved genetically modified apple—yay?). But how do you keep apples from turning brown if you’re not down with new-and-improved GMO’d apples? There are a few old-fashioned tricks to prevent your apple slices from oxidizing.
The most important thing you can do to avoid browning is to reduce the apple’s exposure to air. And the simplest way to do that is to submerge your apple slices in water. Since the slices will float to the top of the water, place a clean paper towel on top. Once the paper towel is wet, it will push the apples under the water's surface. Another technique is to put the apple slices in zip-lock bags with the air pressed out. Neither of these techniques call for additional ingredients, and both work great for keeping the apples from browning.
Water and Salt
Dissolve 1/8 teaspoon of salt into one cup of water—always be careful not to add too much salt. Then add in the apple slices, let them soak for a few minutes, then drain them. Give the slices a quick rinse in fresh water after you drain them, so your fruit won't taste salty.
Water and Honey
Stir two tablespoons of honey into one cup of water and soak your apple slices in the mixture for 30 seconds. This works because there is a compound in honey that stops the enzyme responsible for oxidation. Additionally, this is one of the methods that will not unpleasantly alter the apple's taste.
Citrus or Pineapple Juice
If you want to take the submersion method up a notch, you can add a little bit of citrus or pineapple juice to the water. What do these juices have in common? They contain citric acid, which slows the chemical reaction and prevents browning. But there are actually a few ways to use juice in order prevent browning: 1) you can add two tablespoons of juice to water and submerge the apple slices, 2) you could submerge the apples into juice, or 3) you can simply squeeze lemon, lime, or orange directly onto the surface of the cut apple. The only downside of using this method is that the juice will impart a little bit of flavor onto the apple—so pick your favorite.
Treat and Keep in an Air-Tight Container
Again, the most important part of keeping apples from browning is to reduce or eliminate the apple’s exposure to air after it’s been cut. After you’ve chosen a method and treated your apples, store them in an air-tight container, this could be Tupperware or even a zip-lock bag. Then, keep them in the fridge.
Although there’s no absolute way to prevent apples from turning brown forever, these methods will offer an additional hour or two before discoloration begins. So you no longer have to scarf down your apple slices at record speed, and you can keep 'em looking fresh and tasty on fruit platters and in salads for way longer than apples that are untreated.
Originally Appeared on Epicurious