Why Do Apples Turn Brown? + Love to Learn Linky #7

We’re having apple fever around here this week!  But I’ve been hating how apples turn brown so quickly.  Maybe not as much as my picky 3 1/2 year old, but annoyed just the same.  So we decided to test a bunch of those methods you see out there for keeping the apples looking fresh.  And why not turn experimentation into a lesson?  So we threw in some Scientific Method for kicks, too.  Read on for a fun experiment for kids and what works best for keeping apple slices white.

Plus, keep reading and you’ll find the Love to Learn Linky where we got the beginning of our apple inspiration from…

Why Do Apples Turn Brown Experiments in Keeping Apples Looking Fresh Left Brain Craft Brain

This apple experiment is a great chance to teach the kiddos about the Scientific Method.  Why should you bother?  The method teaches kids and adults critical thinking and a framework in which to approach any problem, not just ones in science.  You can follow along with the experiment and the method below.  Plus, check out a quick summary of all the steps in this The Scientific Method Printable from Left Brain Craft Brain.

Scientific Method Step 1:  Ask a Question

We hate it when apples turn brown.  For some reason, they just don’t seem as tasty as when you first bite into them.  So our question is:  What is the Best Way to Keep Apples From Turning Brown?

Scientific Method Step 2:  Do Research

I thought it would help the process to first learn what makes apples turn brown in the first place.  Essentially your apple is rusting in a process called oxidation.  Once the apple is cut or bruised, oxygen in the air combines with iron in the apple to form iron oxides.  Enzymes in the fruit (like polyphenol oxidase) make this process go faster.  The oxidation process is also what causes metals to rust.

You can reduce browning by slowing oxidation in three different ways.  1) Cook the apples 2) reduce the exposure to oxygen or 3) reduce the pH of the fruit.  Doing both by covering in an acidic liquid is the best way to keep apples from turning brown without cooking.

Scientific Method Step 3:  Form a Hypothesis

It’s time to formulate a hypothesis…  Before the experiment, ask the kids a couple of questions.  Their opinions will be their hypothesis.

  • Which method do you think will work the best?
  • Which one do you think will taste the best?

Scientific Method Step 4:  Design an Experiment

It seems like everyone has an idea on the best way to keep apples looking fresh!  We asked our friends for ideas (ummm, I mean I looked on Pinterest.)  Here’s what we tried…  Be sure to add a control which will show you how the apple turns brown with no treatment.apples turn brown experiment supplies Left Brain Craft Brain

  • Honey (1 teaspoon honey mixed with 1 cup water)
  • Lemon juice (1 teaspoon juice mixed with 1 cup water)
  • Salt (1/2 teaspoon salt mixed with 1 cup water)
  • Vitamin C (1 tablet crushed and dissolved in 1 cup of water)
  • Lemon lime soda
  • Carbonated water (bubble water)
  • Tap water
  • Experiment Control (we used the apple core)
  1. First set out 8 bowls big enough to cover the slice completely with the solution.  Label each bowl so you don’t mix up the solutions.
  2. Make each of the solutions in a separate cup.
  3. Cut one apple into 8 slices of approximately the same size.  If you use more than one apple, you’re adding variables to the experiment as some apples may brown at different rates than the others.
  4. Place an apple slice into each bowl.  You can use the core as the control.
  5. Immediately cover with each solution, one per bowl.

Keep Apples Looking Fresh Experiment Left Brain Craft Brain

Scientific Method Step 5:  Record and Analyze Data

Now comes the waiting period.  We checked after 5 minutes and decided to wait another 5 minutes before pulling the apples out of the solution.  You can choose your own time period based upon how fast the apples are turning brown.  Then:

  • Pour off solution and inspect each apple for brown color.  Record levels.
  • Taste apples and record impressions.

Scientific Method Step 6:  Draw a Conclusion

To help draw a conclusion from the experiment, ask the kids:

  • Which one tastes the best?
  • Which ones kept the apples the whitest?

You and the kiddos should test this for yourself, but here’s what we found in the experiment:

Making a Conclusion Left Brain Craft Brain

  • Plain water doesn’t work.  Carbonated water is a touch better, but not that much.  Plus it gives a slightly bitter taste to the apples.
  • Salt keeps the apples really white, but yuck! did not taste good.  Probably need to try this with less salt.
  • Lemon juice works well too, but also changes the flavor of the apples.  Good for fruit salad, maybe not for plain apple slices.
  • Vitamin C works just ok, but definitely not well enough to be worth the hassle of crushing tablets.
  • The lemon lime soda worked too, but they tasted like apples soaked in soda.  Duh, right?  Too candy like and not really that healthy, so out.

So the winner is….  HONEY!  The apples weren’t quite as white as with salt and lemon, but the taste was sooo yummy.  Like unadulterated apples, just deliciously sweet ones.

Apple Activities

For a few more apple themed activities, check out some shared by my blogger friends during the Love to Learn Linky last week.

apple activities left brain craft brain

Apple Seed Counting from JDaniel4’s Mom

Indoor Apple Picking from Well Nourished Nest

Sticky Fruit Puzzle from Sand in My Toes

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Love to Learn Linky

Love to Learn Linky

Be sure to check out the other features this week.  There’s some fun stuff about things other than apples :)

What Teachers Want Parents to Know the First Week Back from One Time Through

Band-Aid Letter Matching and Other Learning Games from Totschooling

11+ Amazing Art Ideas from A Little Pinch of Perfect

Now it’s time for some more links!  I hope you’ll join me and a few of my friends for a brand new linky party.

Bloggers, share your posts every Thursday and watch as we round them up and share them all over the place.  Almost anything goes, we’re just hoping your activities teach kids (or us!) something (science, art, cooking, behavior, crafting, parenting etc…).

The Love to Learn Linky is hosted by:

Left Brain Craft Brain

Left Brain Craft Brain (leftbraincraftbrain.com):
  Anne is an ex-engineer, current stay-at-home mama writing about crafty ways to encourage creativity (and brain power!) in our kids.  Each of her projects gives kids the chance to learn about a new subject and do something crafty at the same time.


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Totschooling (totschooling.net): Viviana is a blogging mom to a toddler and a preschooler, sharing ideas and resources for early education. She specializes in unique, hands-on printable activities that are educational, fun and inspire creativity in young minds.


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A Little Pinch of Perfect (alittlepinchofperfect.com):  
Katie combines creativity, play, and learning for the perfect mishmash of fun activities that keep kiddos entertained throughout the day. She wholeheartedly believes in the power of play and feels that all activities naturally provide a fun way to learn.


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One Time Through (onetimethrough.com): Sue is an Elementary School Teacher currently on leave to be at home with her preschooler son.  She shares ideas for connecting and learning with kids through meaningful, play-based activities that nurture curiosity and creativity.


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