I love to use Apples in my Desserts. They look really delicious when I just make them, but by the time they are consumed as dessert, the apples have all turned brown. and suddenly the dessert doesn't look all that nice anymore. How do I prevent this?

UPDATE: I remember reading somewhere that dipping apples in lemon juice prevents the oxidation which turns them brown, but this effects the flavor of my recipe. What else can I do?

8 Answers 8


The fast food chains that sell pre-cut apples in bags use Nitrogen or similar food inert gas. But I can't see this being practical in a normal kitchen

Acid is the answer, try slightly less noticeable acid sources such as fresh (as in you squeezed it) orange or pineapple juice

They should not taint the taste so much if you just lightly brush it on the exposed surfaces, don't soak the apples in it

  • 2
    Nitrogen tank, here I come!
    – bobobobo
    Nov 11, 2010 at 20:07
  • 3
    I was just looking for an excuse to buy a nitrogen tank. Thanks!
    – user194
    Dec 18, 2010 at 22:58
  • 1
    I use lemon juice. In most dishes this is fine. Rinse before use if needed.
    – Cerberus
    Jan 4, 2013 at 19:56

A great place to start is the Scientific American article, Why do apple slices turn brown after being cut?

The discoloration of apples is caused by oxidation, which, in the case of apples, is actually caused by oxygen (this is not always the case). Specifically it's caused by an enzyme in the apple caused polyphenol oxidase (PPO).

There are many things you can try if you want to prevent this browning:

  • First, choose a type of apple that has lower PPO. Apples classified as "baking" apples tend to be better for this, although that's not always a reliable indicator. Orin, a Japanese apple, is said to have a mild pineapple flavour and has very low PPO (does not brown easily). Golden Delicious and Granny Smith are also good in this respect. Have a look at this annotated list of common apple varieties for more.

  • The suggestion that most people will give you - to use lemon juice - works for two reasons. One is that lemons are high in antioxidants, which prevent oxidation as the name implies. The other is the acidity; lower pH somewhat inhibits oxidation.

    So apply this knowledge; if you're concerned about the taste imparted by lemon juice, understand that almost all fruits (except apples) are high in antioxidants and most fruit juices are at least mildly acidic. Choose something that's closer to the taste of apple, or doesn't clash as much; pineapple, grapefruit, or orange juice might be better bets. Some spices are also high in antioxidants; if your dessert includes a lot of cinnamon then sprinkle that cinnamon directly onto the apples; it's also a mild antioxidant and will at least slow the browning.

  • Alternative, you can simply lower the amount of oxygen available by either coating with syrup or placing the apples in a sealed (i.e. tupperware) container, or both. This should be fine if the apples are intended as a dessert.

  • Lastly, blanching (boiling) the apples for 5 minutes will basically kill (inactivate) the PPO enzymes which will totally prevent browning - although it'll obviously also soften the apples a whole lot, so whether or not this is viable depends on exactly how you plan to serve them.

  • According to the most recent Cook's Illustrated, honey will also deactivate the enzyme, which should fit in well with a dessert application.
    – jscs
    Dec 28, 2012 at 8:17

If you don't want to use lemon or lime juice, you can get a vitamin-c tablet and dissolve it in water. Same effect, only flavorless.

  • interesting, how does it work?
    – justkt
    Nov 12, 2010 at 17:52
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    @justkt Vitamin C is ascorbic acid, which will kill the oxidixing agents in the apple that causes browning. Using citrus juice does the same thing, which is why most suggestions are for a small amount of lemon or lime juice.
    – Covar
    Nov 13, 2010 at 6:38

Agree with TFD. I usually use a bit of lemon juice and mix the juice with cold water. I think the ratio would be 1 lemon per 1L water.

just dip the apple in the mix for a few seconds and then the apple should last for a long time


You can use acid, such as some lemon juice.

In your baking aisle at the grocery store in the canning area you also may find Ball Fruit Fresh, which provides preservatives.


It depends on how long you need to preserve the apples for. If it's only between slicing and serving, just submerge the peeled apples in water. No oxygen, no oxidisation.

Depending on the type of apples you're using, you can keep them submerged for more or less time before they start to get soft & pulpy. Keeping them in the fridge will extend that time, but not indefinitely.


I don't prefer to any of above. Generally people find a way which we can use at glance & easily available at home. I prevent my apple from turning brown by spraying some salt on it. And it works for me very well from very long time!

  • What do you mean by "spraying" salt? As in a brine solution in a spray bottle?
    – Aaronut
    Dec 28, 2012 at 5:38
  • yes. You can use either brine or salt, which is gonna turn in salt water after some time. Inshort both will prevent the apple from turning brown Dec 28, 2012 at 5:42
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    While soaking apples in brine will delay browning, this is a useless suggestion as then the apple is not really usable in a sweet desert, in fact you will have a hard time eating it in anything
    – TFD
    Dec 28, 2012 at 20:41
  • Who voted for this? Have you try eating salted sliced apple? Salt can be used to preserve whole apples, but that is an entirely different process
    – TFD
    Dec 28, 2012 at 20:42
  • Who told you to eat salted apple slice. I provided the solution for preventing apple from turning out brown. This solution is quick & easily available at home. I do use this alchemy regularly at home & eat apple slices by washing it.. Dec 29, 2012 at 4:44

That is it, you need acid to prevent oxidation. The only other possibility would be to prevent air getting to your apples, but if you cover them with some mass you'd probably not see the brown color anyway...

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