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Why does fruit retain its shape when heated in sugared water but break down when heated with just plain water?

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2 Answers 2

It is a case of osmotic pressure. If you heat it in plain water, the sugars inside the cell want to cross the cell membrane and try to equalize their concentration inside and out. With sugar in the water, the osmotic pressure is already equal so they don't need to leave the fruit.

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I actually don't know the answer to this question, but I have a guess based on what I know about candying.

When you soak fruit in sugar, you are replacing the water in the fruit, which helps to preserve the fruit. In contrast, when you cook fruit in just plain water, you are breaking down the fruit. So in one process you are preserving the fruit's internal structure and in the other you are destroying it.

I'm guessing that this process of preserving or destroying the internal structure is what accounts for the lose or preservation of shape. There could, however, be some other process that I'm not aware of.

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