What Do You Put on Freshly Cut Fruit to Keep It From Turning Brown?

Fresh fruits salad
Freshly cut fruit salad (Image: chainatp/iStock/Getty Images)

Whether it's a simple dish of sliced apple or an exotic tropical fruit salad, the vibrant colors of fresh fruit can be a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach. But unless you eat it right away, the oxygen in the air will react with enzymes in the cut surface of many types of fruit and, as a result, they will start to go brown around the edges before they even reach the plate. So, it is well worth taking a few easy steps to keep your fruit looking as fresh as the moment you sliced it.

Citric Acid

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One of the easiest ways to preserve the color of fruits such as apples, pears, bananas and avocados is to toss them in an acidic substance such as lemon or lime juice. This works because the citric acid in the juice stops the chemical reaction needed for the browning process in its tracks. It also has the benefit of adding a delicious citrus flavor to whichever fruit you are about to enjoy.

Water

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Although it may not be appropriate for all fruit, submerging pieces in cold water after cutting is a very effective way to stop the cut surface from coming into contact with the air. This means that the oxidization process can be stopped before it starts while at the same time keeping the fruit crisp and fresh. It is also possible to stop the enzymes by plunging firmer types of fruit, such as apples and pears, into boiling water for a very short time.

Sugar and Salt

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Coating the cut surface of fruit in sugar syrup will protect the exposed cells from the air and prevent discoloration. Alternatively, coating the fruit in salt will also stop the fruit from turning brown. However, as you can imagine, neither of these techniques will improve the flavor or nutritional value of the fruit, so they are probably best avoided if you want to enjoy your fresh fruit at its best.

Pickling

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In the same way that lemon juice prevents the browning process, so too does pickling. Fruit such as pears would usually go brown within minutes of being cut but they can successfully be pickled in a mixture of spiced vinegar and sugar. This not only prevents discoloration but will preserve the fruit for many months. Pickled pears, in particular, are excellent when served with roasted meat or poultry dishes. This makes a delicious way to enjoy the fall harvest throughout the winter months.

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