YES! Just like when we get a cut our body sends defense chemicals to mend our skin, when an apple is cut the damaged cells secrete enzymes which react with the oxygen in the air. This chemical reaction, called oxidation, creates the brown color.
If it’s a hot day, the browning is faster. The opposite is true as well – if you put the cut apple in the refrigerator the chemical reaction slows and browning doesn’t happen as quickly.
My kids don’t seem to mind some slight browning, but if you have a visually sensitive little one there are some preventative measures you can take to preserve the surface of your cut apple!
Vitamin C, also called Ascorbic Acid, stops the oxidation process. You can squeeze lemon, lime, pineapple, orange or grapefruit juice directly on your cut apple. It does slightly change the flavor and texture of the apple, however. You can also soak the cut apple pieces for five minutes in a diluted mixture of squeezed juice from the above fruits mixed with some cold water for less flavor change.
Ascorbic acid can also be found as a powder sprinkle in the canning section of the grocery store. You just sprinkle the powder on the cut surfaces, and the oxidation is prevented. My kids don’t like the way the texture and flavor slightly changes with this addition.
Adding acidic fruit slices to your cut apples to create a fruit salad also works. Cut the apples and whatever acidic fruit you choose, and mix together. Some mixtures we have enjoyed:
- Apples, oranges, carrots, raisins
- Apples, grapefruit, dried blueberries
- Apples, pineapples, dried cranberries
And the possibilities go on… create your own master combination to keep it fun and healthy for your little one!