Peach season runs from May to September, which doesn't give you much time to enjoy this sweet, juicy fruit. If you're freezing peaches to brighten the dull, dark days of winter, you may wonder what you can do to stop the bright golden fruit from turning a dull brown.
You can stop sliced peaches from turning brown by adding an acidic element to the brightly colored fruit immediately after you cut them, such as lemon juice, fresh pineapple or a commercial anti-darkening agent made for fruit.
Health Benefits of Peaches
You can't go wrong adding more fruit like peaches to your diet. According to the World Health Organization, eating more fruits and vegetables may lower your risk of heart disease and certain types of cancers, and may make it easier for you to maintain a healthy weight. Despite the many benefits of eating fruit like peaches, less than 10 percent of the Western population consumes the recommended amount, according to a December 2018 article published in Nutrients.
- 68 calories
- 1.6 grams of protein
- 17 grams of carbohydrates
- 2.6 grams of fiber
- 7 percent of the daily value (DV) for potassium
- 13 percent of the DV for vitamin C
- 2 percent of the DV for folate
Though the carbohydrates in the large peach are mostly from sugar (15 grams), the sugar in the fruit comes with all the other nutrients your body needs for good health. Unlike foods with added sugar, such as candy and soft drinks, which are void of any nutritional value whatsoever.
To maintain nutritional value when canning or freezing peaches, it's best not to add any sugar.
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What Causes Peaches to Brown?
A peach makes an effortless snack, as you can simply wash and enjoy. But if you're slicing and freezing peaches or using them to make a peach cobbler, you may think twice because it's nearly impossible to keep cut peaches from turning browning.
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This browning process is one of the reasons peaches — along with bananas, avocados and apples — have such a short shelf life when cut. When you slice a fresh peach, you activate a group of enzymes known as polyphenol oxidases (PPOs). Through a rather complex process, these enzymes create highly reactive brown pigments called quinones which are quickly oxidized, causing your once bright, peachy fruit to turn an unappetizing brown.
For the record, peaches turning brown on tree before they're picked isn't caused by the same chemical reaction as the brown sliced peaches. According to Ohio State University Extension, peaches that brown on the tree are infected with brown rot fungus. Once infected, the peaches quickly turn brown and rot, making them inedible.
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Stop Peaches From Turning Brown
Your sliced peaches may be susceptible to the chemical reactions that cause the color change, but you can take steps to keep peaches from turning brown. According to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, an acidic juice, such as lemon, orange juice or a light vinegar such as white balsamic vinegar, may stop the browning. The acidity from the juice inactivates the PPO that starts the whole process.
Another strategy is to combine the sliced peaches with an acidic fruit, such fresh pineapple chunks or peeled and quartered tangerines. Be sure to cut your acidic fruits before you slice your peaches to minimize any browning before you combine the two fruits. If you plan on using your sliced peaches within a couple of hours, covering and placing them in the refrigerator may be all that's needed until you're ready to serve or use them.
To keep cut peaches from turning brown, you can also sprinkle them with a commercial anti-browning agent, which usually contains ascorbic acid or citric acid.
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- Pick Your Own: "Typical Peach Ripening Dates - Peach Varieties in Order of Ripening"
- World Health Organization: "Increasing Fruit and Vegetable Consumption to Reduce the Risk of Communicable Diseases"
- Nutrients: "Whole Fruits and Fruit Fiber Emerging Health Effects"
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: "All About the Fruit Group"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Peach, Raw"
- University of California at Davis: "Preservative Treatments for Fresh-Cut Fruits and Vegetables"
- Ohio State University Extension: "Brown Rot of Stone Fruits"
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln: Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources: "How to Prevent Cut Fruit From Turning Brown"