how to keep apple slices from browning

I love apples, but I hate it when they lose the crisp in them. Even when making any dish, it felt quite bothersome to cut apples just moments before using them, or they will just start wilting. I know, it's the oxidation that makes it like that, but it sucks.

Recently, I discovered that there are a few tricks that can keep apples fresh for a long time. There are six methods that people use to slow the browning process of apples. They use things like, lemon juice, lemon water, lemon soda, citric acid, honey, salt and plain water to keep the apples fresh.  

 With a small experiment, we know what helps out the most and what doesn’t. We tested all these methods along with leaving a few slices of apple untreated as a form of control group. This way, we know how long does it take for apples to start browning in comparison to the treatment. So, let me present some of my recent findings with you about which way is the best one. 

Untreated Apples

After cutting apples, we let a few slices rest outside in a plate at room temperature and a few others in a zip lock bag with getting out as much air as possible. As we all know, apples do not stay fresh long after being cut. They started browning in just fifteen minutes, both outside and in zip lock bag.

  • Effectiveness Rating: 0/5
  • Result: Only best for immediate snacking or cooking.

Lemon Water

We used lemon water next for our little experiment. We added 1 tablespoon of lemon juice that was freshly squeezed for each cup of water. Then we soaked apple slices in that lemon water just for five minutes and then rinsed the slices with plain water. After the treatment, we placed them in a zip lock bag and outside in a plate, like we did before.  

Outside, the apple slices lasted for two hours before they started browning. In the zip lock bag, they did last longer than outside, but still were browning in just three hours' time. Although, many people use this method, but it is not a very long-lasting one.

  • Effectiveness Rating: ⭐
  • Result: Works if you have to use apples within two hours' time.

Citric Acid

Citric Acid is the powdered form of citrus juice. Although, citric acid is not a common household item that you can find lying around somewhere and use it. It was necessary for us to see if it is one of the viable options for future or not. And also, whether it is worth buying. Spoiler Alert; it wasn’t. 

 After adding only half teaspoon of citric acid in the slices. We tossed them and then rinsed them off with water after five minutes. This process did keep apples from browning for a whopping 12 hours, but it did ruin the taste of apples. The slices were too bitter to eat even after being washed. You may use it if you want the slices to look nice, but not for eating them raw.

  • Effectiveness Rating: ⭐⭐
  • Result: Could be used if cooking or baking to cover up the bitter taste of citric acid.

Lemon Juice

Lemon water was the diluted version of the lemon juice, and now we are experimenting with the undiluted version. We squeezed fresh lemon juice onto slices of apple and then tossed them to apply the lemon juice evenly. After five minutes of rest, the apple slices were washed. Lemon juice stopped the oxidation for about seven hours. 

As compared to the Citric Acid, it is definitely better. It may not long last as much as citric acid, but it retains the taste better. It still has tartness to it like lemons but in comparison, it works better. Anyway, it is more likely for you to have lemons or lemon juice at home than citric acid.

  • Effectiveness Rating: ⭐⭐ (2.5)
  • Result: Tartness in taste, could be used in cooking and baking.

Lemon Soda

We all keep carbonated drinks in our fridge, and it turns out people use them not only for drinking but also for preventing apples from browning. It makes sense because it does have citric acid in it. We soak apple slices in soda for five minutes before washing them thoroughly.

The results were nothing extraordinary. The slices kept outside stayed fresh for about three hours and double the time in the zip lock bag. If you happen to have lemon soda in your home, it is a good trick to help out. Otherwise, it isn't something that should make you start stocking lemon soda in your pantry. There are easier ways out there.

  • Effectiveness Rating: ⭐⭐⭐ 
  • Result: Works well for 3-6 hours, but not recommended.

Plain Water

  • Effectiveness Rating: ⭐⭐⭐ (3.5)
  • Result: It is easy and works just fine for 6 hours.

With plain water, you don’t need to work with much. The preparation is very easy, you don’t need to soak first or rinse. You can simply cut apple into slices and put it in a container or sealed bag filled with water. This way, apple slices stay fresh in a sealed bag for almost six hours and four hours in a water-filled container. If you put a lid on the container, the apple slices will stay fresh for six hours in there as well.

Keeping in mind, that this method has no pre eating and cooking ritual, it fared really well. The apple still had its taste and crunch in six hours.

Honey Water

  • Effectiveness Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4.5)
  • Result: Recommended, but you should check out the other option. It's even better!

It may sound strange that we are using honey on apples, but actually it may be genius! Honey is known for its preservative qualities and even has an acidic pH level that makes it a valid candidate for preservation of apples. 

We added about 1 tablespoon of honey per cup of water and soaked apple slices in them for five minutes before rinsing them under running water. 

The slices were put outside and in a zip lock bag separately this time as well. They all stayed fresh for 12 hours. Unlike lemon juice and citric acid, it did not leave an aftertaste at all. The apple slice in the bag even stayed fresh and crisp when put in fridge overnight. The slices in the plate were a little affected by the cold air of the fridge, but the shriveling was minimum. They were still edible.

Salt Water

In this test, I soaked apple slices in the water with salt (taken as half teaspoon per cup of water) for five minutes as I did previously for all methods and washed them after. These slices stayed fresh and crisp for 12 hours, just like the honey ones. Similarly, they also stayed intact in taste and crisp in fridge overnight. The results of both these methods were the same but in comparison, salt is cheaper than honey and readily available to all. It does not alter the taste at all and that’s why it is definitely the winner!

  • Effectiveness Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Result: It is the BEST method to use for preventing browning of apples.

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