Now that we’re into the cooler months and stone fruit and blueberry seasons are over, many people turn to apples, bananas and pears.
You can eat them whole as hand fruit; or slice them to use them as garnishes, in fruit salads, etc. Or, you may be slicing them to prepare a pie or tart.
But how do you stop them from turning brown?
Browning of fruit is caused by the exposure of the flesh to oxygen. Enzymes in certain fruits react quickly with the oxygen in the air to oxidize, which turns the flesh brown. The discoloration doesn’t effect taste, but appearance.
The solution is to limit that exposure.
Anyone who has read a pie recipe knows to coat the cut surfaces with lemon juice, the strongest edible acid that can stop the enzyme reaction.
This may be the best technique, but there are other techniques as well.
1. FRUIT JUICE STOPS BROWNING
Lemon juice is the standard in recipes and food articles, but other juices work, too. If you don’t have lemon juice, try:
Any other citrus juice—grapefruit, lime, orange, etc.—fresh squeezed, bottled or canned
A half cup of juice will sufficiently cover two apples, bananas or pears. We brush the juice onto the sliced fruit with a pastry brush; a friend uses a small spray bottle (the travel-size used for cosmetics).
You can also toss or immerse the fruit in the juice for a few minutes; but when they soak up the juice, they also soak up the flavor. If you don’t want tart flavor from lemon or lime juice, e.g., you can add some sugar.
Once they’re coated in fruit juice, the slices will take much longer to turn brown. They will last without refrigeration in a plastic container for a few hours, but are best consumed the same day.
In Fruit Salads
The way to stop apples, bananas and pears in fruit salads from browning is to mix them with high-acid fruits: grapefruit, mandarins and oranges (the difference), pineapples, tangerines.
Save the juices from slicing these fruits and add them to the bowl. They’ll stop the sensitive from browning.
2. WRAPPING THE FRUIT
Lay the cut fruit on a plate or tray. Cut a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper to cover, and press it over the top of the slices, creating a shield from the air. This works best when the slices are roughly the same size.
3. VACUUM STORAGE
If you have a vacuum storage system—whether a heat-sealing system like InLife or hard a vacuum pump like Food Saver, you can create an air-free storage bag.
A hack is to put the slices in a storage bag and squeeze out the air. Refrigerate until ready to use. If you have a bit of lemon juice to sprinkle in, so much the better.
4. WATER OR CLUB SODA/SELTZER
As a last resort, use club soda, seltzer water, soda water (the differences), or just plain water.