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  • Sara Thompson

How do you like these apples?

By Sara Thompson

Special to the Enterprise

We have all experienced it, when you slice up an apple it turns brown in just a few short minutes. It is a simple chemical reaction called oxidation. When an apple is cut, the inner flesh is exposed to the air. The air and enzymes in the apple react and cause the browning to occur. There are several ways to help slow down this reaction, however, and you can experiment at home with which method works best for you.

It is well documented that simple solutions can help slow down the oxidation process, such as coating the apples in different liquids. But is one any better than the other? In this experiment, found at, we will be testing which helps slow oxidation down between water, milk, lemon juice, and vinegar.

Supplies needed: apples, knife and cutting board (adults only), sealable plastic bags, marker, and a ¼ Cup each of water, milk, lemon juice, and vinegar

Experiment: First thing you will want to do is write which liquid will be in each bag, and write “control” on another one, this will be what you compare all other results to. Next, pour the ¼ Cup of each liquid into their corresponding bags, again, leaving the ‘control’ empty. Now have an adult slice up the apple, you can use one or more, depending on how many slices you want in each bag. When finished cutting, place a few apple slices into each bag, seal the bag, shake gently so the slices get fully coated, then let soak for about 2-3 minutes. After soaking, pour out the excess liquid, reseal the bags, and set aside to watch the oxidation. Check on the bags about every 15 minutes to see how the reactions are doing. It doesn’t matter how long you let the experiment go for, you can stop after 30 minutes, or let it go for a few hours. Do not let it go too long, however, most of the apples will begin to decompose and go bad after several hours.

When apple slices are coated in another material, such as a liquid, it reduces the flesh’s exposure to the air, slowing the process. There are also other ways you can do this experiment. Try coating the apples in solids as well, such as sugar or cornstarch. You can also have some slices in bags on the counter and some in the refrigerator with the same materials to see if the cold also helps. There are countless ways to see what can slow down the oxidation of apples. Just remember, apples will eventually brown and start to go bad, so don’t let your experiments go too long.

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