For all you lunch-packers out there, I have some good ideas to help keep your fruits from turning brown before you eat them. I’m a big fan of apples, but I much prefer apple slices. I also love avocados, but I can’t eat an entire one all at once, I often like to save some for the next day. But eating brown apple slices or brown avocado isn’t very appealing. So, let me tell you some tricks to avoid browning.
Cutting into an apple (or other fruits and vegetables) initiates an enzymatic reaction by the enzyme Phenolase. Okay, lots of big words.
Just imagine in elementary school when the bell rings and the doors open for recess and all of the kids go running out the door. Those kids are like Phenolase, as soon as the door opens (as soon as the apple is cut or bruised or whatever) it runs around and wreaks havoc, oxidizing everything and therefore turning the apple brown. The question is, how can we prevent Phenolase from doing too much damage?
Just like children, Phenolase needs a few things to stay comfortable and keep going. Now, what makes kids tired? I can think of a few things: if it’s too hot or cold, after they’ve been running for a while they run out of breath, or if they only had salt water to drink that’d definitely slow them down…
It’s the exact same for this enzyme. It runs around the most when it’s at a comfortable temperature and when there’s plenty of oxygen. There are a handful of tricks that we can do to prevent Phenolase from turning fruit brown so quickly.
- Keep it cool. Phenolase reacts much quicker in a warm environment. After I slice into an avocado, I’ll put the rest right in the fridge. Keeping
fruits and vegetables in the fridge or in a cooler can slow downbrowning
- Limit oxygen. This can be done by, first, not cutting it, or second, keeping it in an airtight container or bag. I like to put a rubber band around my apple and stick it in a bag after I cut it. I also put the avocado in a sealed bag before I put it back in the fridge.
- Add salt or acid. These inhibit the enzyme’s ability to react. You can buy citric acid in the store for this purpose, but it usually makes your fruit a little sour. Plus, salt is cheaper.
So there you have it, a few simple tricks that will slow down the browning of fruits or vegetables.