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How To Keep Sliced Apples Fresh Longer!

I have always liked apples in just about ANY form. Apple juice, applesauce, apple PIE! :-)  But, in the past, I haven’t been much of a fan of fresh, whole apples because I have a “thing” about biting into them. I just don’t like to do it. I know, I know…I’m weird. I have a lot of food texture issues. For example, I’m the only person I know that doesn’t like watermelon. But, once again, it’s not because of the TASTE, it’s a texture thing.

Bottom line, with my food texture issues, I don’t do a lot of munching on apples, but I DO enjoy apple SLICES….a LOT! They are awesome for sticking in lunches for school or work and are a great snack when the afternoon munchies hit. When they first started prepackaging apple slices and selling them at places like McDonald’s and grocery stores, I was all over it!  That was until August of last year when there was a massive recall of prepackaged apple slices because of a listeria contamination. Yikes! I couldn’t look another one of those packages in the face.

I was forced to take matters in my own hands and started making my own sliced apple “packages.” Unfortunately, as we all know, apples will quickly turn brown (or oxidize) after slicing. This is the result of a chemical reaction that occurs when the enzymes in the apple come into contact with oxygen. However, I figured if McDonald’s could overcome this, I could too! I did some research and found a few different options, but the one that has works the best for me is this one:

How to Keep Apple Slices from Turning Brown

Slice whole apples into wedges and put in a medium-sized bowl.

apple slices

Pour in enough lemon-lime soda to barely cover the apple slices. Carbonated drinks like lemon-lime soda and ginger ale contain citric acid which is an effective anti-oxidant.

Allow the apple slices to soak for 10 to 15 minutes.

Take the apple slices out of the soda and package in snack-sized plastic zipper storage bags. (You can rinse the apple slices, if you like. I don’t.)

Store these “goodie bags” in the fridge for easy-to-grab snacks or as a healthy part of a brown bag lunch you pack for yourself or your kids.

You will be amazed at how well this method works! My apples stay crisp and colorful (excluding the color “brown”) for days!

These little homemade prepackaged apples are my “secret weapon” for getting more fruits and fiber into my diet.

apple dip
Photos by Anna Gleave

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  • Adding a lot to bit of lemon juice to the slices is an age old tradition. If you taste the juice, you’ve used too much. My Gramma taught me this about 55 yrs sgo!

  • For any cut fruit, if I’m eating it or getting it ready for canning, I use vitamin c powder, purchased at Trader Joe’s. A little goes a long way!

  • Anybody know where I can find the recipe for the dip as mentioned in the article. . . I’ve gone and looked in her search engine and it isn’t listed.

    “Check back on Monday when I’ll share my recipe for this DELICIOUS peanut butter dip that is the so PERFECT with these fresh apple slices!”

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  • Yes, this is a great idea. I just want to alert everyone that, you need to clean the apples, with soap and running water so that they are really clean. Lysteria monocytogenes is a bug commonly found on cold produce that isn’t going to be cooked. Also e-coli, and others. And in case you get cross contamination on the apples at the store (very common) you need to really clean any food that will be eaten raw. Even if you plan to peel them, you still must wash them well because as you peel or slice, your knife/peeler will draw bacteria through the fruit. The citric acid in whatever form will help, to kill bad buggies. But, if the apples will be at room temp for a while (sitting in a lunch bag), you want to start out cleaner than ever.

    Good old soap and water, running and lots of it, will do the job. There are also online recipes for homemade produce washes. But soap and water will fix most of the problems. Don’t panic; prepare.

  • I don’t like watermelon either! Something about the sweet, watery, mushy taste I can’t get past. I do however enjoy watermelon Jolly Ranchers. I prefer sliced apples over whole. I dont like biting into the core, but will chow into a caramel apple sprinkled with peanuts without hesitation!

  • I recently read an article discouraging the act of soaking fruit in water (as a way to clean off chemical residue) because it causes nutrients to leach out. Do you know if the same is true with soaking in soda?

  • I have used the salted water method for years and it works great! Also use this method when making apple salad and for banana slices. No salty taste and fruit stays pretty! Thanks Jille for all your great tips. I use them and sharee with others too.

  • Dry jello can be sprinkled on sliced apples. My grandma used to peel and slice apples into salt water then take them out, put them in a freezer bag and freeze for pies. I really like the Sprite idea. Great post.

  • Didn’t know the soda or even salt water would work–good to know if in a pinch. I usually use lemon or apple juice. Sliced apples are my go to for BYO appetizer parties. I usually slice on demand (with the apple slicer shown in the picture posted); but have been known to pre-slice & soak ahead. I also bring a caramel or yogurt dip. I pick a variety of apples–they always disappear. Another advantage to slicing on demand is that the leftover whole apples don’t end up in the garbage like other leftover appetizers. Sometimes I add them to the dessert table instead of the appetizer table–just depends on which table needs it most.
    Thanks for another great post!

  • I use the salted water method when making applesauce. For apple slices I love using TRUE LEMON crystallized lemon. Just a little sprinkle on a slice. This really enhances the flavor and keeps the apple slice looking great. Website TrueCitrus.com These small packages are also great to carry in your purse to add to water at restaurants or work. Find this in the juice isle at the supermarket.

  • My favorite low calorie apple dip is:
    1 pkg fat free cream cheese, 1/2 to 1 t. maple flavoring, sweetener to taste. ( I use splenda), 1 T. Milk. Whip together till creamy. Slice apples and dip away.

  • The best lemons to use are MEYER LEMONS, as they are sweeter tasting almost like eating an orange………They are more expensive, but oh-so worth it………Love apples and this idea to prevent browning is awesome, but the idea for using salt water sounds very promising too………….Don’t forget that an apple a day, keeps the doctor away………………

  • I use 2 solutions for packing apples in my daughter’s lunch –

    1 – a very little bit of salt sprinkled right on – But will taste salty, obviously! Not a favourite choice!

    2 – honey – I pour a little blob – I know, so technical! – into my hand and add a bit of water and just rub the mixture over the cut parts of the apple…its probably 1/2 tablespoon of honey and water per apple.

  • Excellent. I’ll try this AND drink the rest of the soda. I enjoy apple slices too…..biting off the apple just gets wedged between my teeth. Since I’m the only one eating the apples, I can do up some for convenience.

    I figure I’m not breathing filtered air and handled carts at Walmart this morning….a little soda won’t kill me. I’ve probably ingested fair worse accidentally. It simply washes the outside, if it soaked in the apples would be mushy.

    I don’t like watermelon period. The texture is weird. The taste is, well, like stagnant water. I just don’t see the point. If its in a fruit salad and Auntie will be hurt if I don’t finish my fruit cup, I’ll eat it.

  • I love the sprite method! I also have whole apple eating issues. I like watermelon, but pears are the worst. I cannot stand their texture.

  • If you like the flavor of watermelon, but not the texture, try making watermelon ice cubes. If I buy a whole watermelon at home, between the four of us we only eat about half of it. So I cut the other half into cubes and freeze.

    Use them as ice cubes for iced tea, lemonade, or water. It gives a muted watermelon flavor to whatever you use them for. Also? They make great dog treats if you’re trying to cool off the dogs in the summertime.

  • I had used lemon juice for years on our sliced apples but then my daughter in law taught me that lime juice is even better. What a great taste and the apple slices stay fresh for a long time!

  • I have used- fruit fresh – (the kind you use in making jam). Just dissolve a small amount in water – about 2 tsp.to 3 tbs water, toss with apples, and bag. Fruit Fresh is loaded with vitamin C (ascorbic acid). I also use a bit of this solution in any fruit salad that contains bananas or apples to keep them from browning. Fruit fresh is inexpensive and last forever. It is also used in canning and freezing fruit to prevent discoloration.

  • My favorite snack in the fall, is Caramel Apples, covered in nuts. I buy the 3 pack at the store, and I use the apple slicer to cut it into slices. The stick goes in the circle of the cutter. I NEVER enjoyed a caramel apple until I learned this trick! (Caramel all over your face, and the nuts fall off before you can get them in your mouth.) This is so much easier for kids, too, without all the caramel from ear to ear! I don’t have to worry about the apple turning brown, because we eat them up so fast!

  • For those who prefer not to use soda and don’t like lemon juice because it’s too tart give fresh lemon juice mixed with carbonated or soda water, I think just plain water will work too just haven’t tried it. It’s basically the same thing Jillee is doing but making your own “citrus” soda without the additives. I too am a slice girl (as well as tart apple) rather than whole apple but have to admit the brown slices turn me off too…Thanks Jillee!

  • This is great… thanks for the hints in the comments for ways not to use soda (verboten in our house) – i try to tell the boys that the brown is just more sugar and the apples are now sweeter — works sometimes :-). I, also, can’t stand pears (texture) – but love watermelon. Agreed – Delicious apples – aren’t. There’s a whole world of folks with “odd” taste/texture things. There’s a group – who used to have a website – “I hate celery”. Evidently that is connected to an accute sense of smell. Thanks for all the great stuff – everybody.

  • Slightly salted water also works well. I use about a tablespoon in a gallon of water. Let them soak for 5-10. Works like a charm and no salty taste whatsoever.

  • I love sliced apples, but can’t stand biting into them. Same with other whole fruits, peaches, pears, plums, anything. My knife is my best friend when eating fruit, LOL! I find that some varieties of apples brown faster than others when cut. I never have any trouble with Granny Smiths, and my favorite Honeycrisp or Pink Lady apples take much longer to brown, so I never worry about treating any of those varieties. Others seem to brown faster, such as the Delicious varieties (which in my opinion are NOT “delicious”, blech!). I don’t know whether it’s the firmness of the flesh or the tartness of the apple that makes the difference … have always suspected it’s the tartness.

  • Wow…I don’t like biting into whole fruit either. Or watermelon..due to taste. I’m happy to know that there are a bunch of us weird people! I will try the Sprite apples and cut tbem into pieces I can eat with a fork at work. Thanks for the information!

  • I put them in baggies and then suck the air out of the baggie. They keep pretty well for their lunch. I know this because sometimes they bring home leftovers and they are pretty decent even then.

  • I won’t eat watermelon or pears because of the texture, not the taste. So there are others out there with the same texture issues. Thanks for sharing that I always felt alone too.

  • This is my favorite apple dip:
    Diet dip
    2 cups brown sugar
    1 8 oz pkg soften cream cheese
    Mix well set in frig till sugar dissolves about 2 hours
    [you may want to hide it.}

  • Hi, Jillie, here is a little idea for those, who like whole apples : before putting slices in envelope, put it back in whole apple shape and fast it by gummiband, and in follie or bag and in fridge. Sorry for my language, I am not from english speaking country (I am from Prague, Czech) but I try.

    • That’s the same thing I was going to say for the most part. I usually use an apple slicer, and just don’t push it through the skin at the bottom so it’s still attached; then I just close the apple back up and put it in a baggie, remove excess air and close it. Never thought of the rubber band, good idea!

      Otherwise I just use lemon juice.

    • I was going to suggest this too, cut the apple with the same slicer, but before you cut all the way through, pull the slicer back up over the core, bring all the apple wedges back around the core and put a nice wide rubber band around the apple, the slices don’t brown and to eat all the kids have to do is remove the rubber band and pull the slices off where they are still attached at the bottom.

    • That’s what I do, or rub individual cut sides with lemon. I’ve also sliced down thru, pulled out the center and pulled saran wrap up around it so no need for a rubber band touching the skin of the apple…the center did not turn brown.

      I’ve had them soaked in Sprite and they were also delicious, great idea if you are making a platter for a huge amount of people :)

  • I can’t eat apples if they are brown because it looks so disgusting. Now with this tip, I can make my own apple baggies and not eat brown apple slices. Thanks for the tip!

  • Great tip Jillee, I always cut up a few apples for my daughter to snack on during the day but she won’t eat it if it’s turned brown. I’ve tried the lemon juice method but no matter how much I rinse my daughter still says it’s sour. Would it last as long if I rinsed the soda off? Thanks for another great tip x

  • What happens to the sugar and chemicals in the soda ? Does just the citric acid absorb ? Food grade citric acid is available too in containers. Could you just sprinkle the apples with the citric acid powder ?

    I have the same weird thing with apples..don’t like biting into a whole one ..

  • My kids love what we affectionately call “Sprite apples.” Ditch the baggies though. There are Eco-friendly alternatives out there that avoid single-use waste.

  • This also works with lemon, lime, or my preferred method, pineapple juice. It tends to have a bitter taste with the others. Toss to coat and you’re good.

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