Scullery Skills: Keeping Apples Looking Appley.
January 13, 2012 § 2 Comments
This is the first post in what will be an on-going series where I offer various how-to’s and tips/tricks for hanging around the scullery, which if you didn’t know, is a Brit synonym for “kitchen.”
It’s a little different, I guess. Dictionary.com says a scullery is “a small room or section of a pantry in which food is cleaned, trimmed, and cut into cooking portions before being sent to the kitchen,” but it’s close enough for me to capitalize on the alliteration. If my lack of accuracy bothers you, then you can go read some other food blog to get your “Kitchen Basics” or “Cooking 101.” I DON’T NEED YOU!
Wait. Don’t go. I’m just joking. I like you. Please stay. Here. I made you a delicious salad.
See those apple slices, shining in their splendor, officially not browning? That’s what I’m talking about. That’s what you want.
I made this salad last night for a shindig with friends where I knew we weren’t going to be eating for at least an hour. We probably all know the “toss apples in lemon juice” trick to keep them from browning, but I didn’t want that lemon taste, not even a hint. I almost just took the apple and my own knife to cut them up right before we ate, but then I had a stroke of genius:
I simply tossed the apple slices in a little bit of the vinaigrette I planned to use on the salad.
This does the same thing as tossing them in lemon juice (adding an acid), but actually compliments the rest of the salad, instead of adding the unwanted hint of lemon.
If that’s all you wanted to know, you can stop here. If you want the full Beakman’s World version of the story, it’s after the jump.
All that’s required to keep an apple from browning is an acid. NB: I do not recommend adding lysergic acid diethylamide.
The reason apples (and other foods like bananas, potatoes, &c.) turn brown is called “enzymatic browning,” which is caused when the foods are exposed to oxygen.
Apples specifically contain an enzyme called polyphenol oxidase (phenolase). When you cut the apple you expose the fruit inside to air. This enzyme combined with oxygen creates a chemical reaction that produces melanins, which cause the fruit to brown.
Adding an acid to the sliced apple lowers the pH of the food, rendering the polyphenol oxidase inactive, and preventing the production of these melanins. Thus, your apples stay bright and fresh looking.
As former wrestler Ric Flair would say, “That’s fucking science. WOOO!”
Note: You can also place the apples in water to prevent exposure to air, but I think this can leach the flavor. This works great for potatoes though, especially if you’re going to boil them anyway for mashes.