ALABAMA A&M and AUBURN UNIVERSITIES
AUBURN, JULY 2---Anti-browning solutions are used to preserve the natural color of dried, cored or cut fruits. If untreated, fruits oxidize and turn brown vegetables
Ascorbic acid is vitamin C, and volume for volume, it's the most effective anti-browning solution. Most drugstores and natural-food stores carry pure crystalline ascorbic acid, says Dr. Evelyn Crayton, an Extension foods and nutrition specialist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. About 3,000 milligrams of ascorbic acid are in a teaspoon of the fine pure crystals.
Ascorbic acid tablets also are available at most drugstores. To use tablets as an anti-browning agent, crush 400-500 milligram tablets. Ascorbic acid dissolves easily in water or juice, both of which should be boiled and cooled before the solution is made.
Ascorbic acid is used most often with apples, apricots, nectarines, peaches and pears. The strength of the solution depends on the food being preserved. .
For apples, dissolve 3 teaspoons of pure crystalline ascorbic acid in a cup of cold water. Dissolve 1 1/2 teaspoons of pure crystalline ascorbic acid in a cup of cold water for peaches, apricots, pears and nectarines
Citric acid also preserves fruit color. However, It takes three times more citric acid than ascorbic acid to help prevent browning. Citric acid crystals (almost powder) can be purchased at most drugstores. It also comes in large crystals bottled as "sour salt" from a Kosher food store or the special-foods section of large supermarkets. These crystals are easily pulverized. Dissolve the required amount in 2 or 3 tablespoons of cold water then follow directions for the individual fruit using measures for ascorbic acid as your guide. Delicate flavors of some fruits may be masked when using citric acid.
Lemon juice contains both ascorbic and citric acid. However, it's about only one-sixth as effective as pure ascorbic acid. Lemon juice also can alter taste of foods.
Several commercial color-preservers also are available in supermarkets. They are located near the parrafin wax and commercial pectins, mostly in 5-ounce tins. The best known brand has a sugar base, with ascorbic acid and an anti-caking agent. It's expensive to use because of the small proportion of ascorbic acid in the mixture. The label tells how much to use for canning or freezing. Another brand contains sugar and citric acid, plus several other ingredients, but no ascorbic acid. Read labels to learn what each product contains.
Crayton says any of these solutions will help prevent browning if used in the right proportions.
SOURCE: DR. EVELYN CRAYTON, Extension foods and nutrition specialist, Alabama Cooperative Extension System.