How To Keep Apples From Browning in the Lunchbox {Video}

Wondering How To Keep Apples From Browning in the Lunchbox? Look no further – here are three ways to keep sliced apples fresh!

Apples are a favorite school lunch addition for many children and moms love their year-round availability and budget friendly prices.  But, one question I often get when I share the school lunch menus is “How do you keep the apples from browning?”.

Here’s the secret to keeping apples fresh.

Fortunately, there are several options for preserving fresh apples, keeping them as crisp and white as the moment you cut them.  

These methods will let you cut and store sliced apples for the entire week, saving you time as you pack lunches for your children.  Who doesn’t love that idea?

And after you’re done keeping all your apples all crunchy and delicious, be sure to check out my easy method to keep berries fresh!

image: fresh red apples sliced bowl on wood background

The main ingredient to preserving apples and keeping them from oxidizing is simple: citric acid.  

In its very basic, natural form it is found in lemons, limes, oranges, pineapple and other citrus fruits.  

It is also dehydrated and crystalized for a shelf-stable preservative and, in a variety of forms, is perfect for keeping sliced apples ready for lunch or an easy snack!

I use these methods for fruit cups and sliced apples that I send to school in the lunchbox.

Three Ways To Keep Apples From Browning

1) Citrus Fruit Juice: lemon juice is our family’s favorite as we love the flavor combo of tart lemon and sweet apple.  

But, if your children don’t like lemons, any fresh citrus fruit juice will work.  Pineapple juice is yummy on apples!

image: apple slices in a white bowl with lemon juice

Simply squeeze the juice of one lemon (or other citrus, if desired) into a bowl of sliced apples.  

Toss lightly to coat and then store the apples in a sealed container within your refrigerator.  With this method, apples stay ready for 4-5 days worth of use.

2) Fruit-Fresh: this powdered, natural preservative is made from citric acid and is most often used by home-cooks when canning fruits and vegetables.

It can also be used on fresh produce to halt the oxidation process.

image: apple slices in a shallow bowl with Fruit Fresh

If using it on a few sliced apples, simply sprinkle it lightly on the fruit.  To preserve up to two cups of sliced apples, mix two teaspoons of Fruit-Fresh with two tablespoons of water, and then toss the sliced fruit with the liquid.

Store in an air-tight container in your refrigerator.

3) Eat Cleaner: an all-natural, tasteless and odorless produce and food cleaner that was created by a family dedicated to creating a safe product that would remove wax and residue from the items sold at our grocery stores.  

Because it has citric acid in it, it also keeps produce and fruit from browning! This is a 2 in 1 product: you can clean your produce from nasty pesticides, waxes and dirt (even organic!) and use it to keep the food fresh. Win-win.

image: eat cleaner spray with apple slices in a shallow bowl

There are a variety of wipes and products in the Eat Cleaner family; follow the package guidelines for spraying and keeping your apples fresh.

The best way to keep apples fresh

I laid out slices of apples treated each way side by side. This way, you can see for yourself which method works best for the amount of time that you need your apples to be fresh.

Here are the apples one hour into our test.

And here is what the treated and untreated apples look like after six hours. There’s a visible difference at hour six, and this is around the time your child is probably opening up the lunchbox and pulling out their apples.


In the interest of science (of course), our family tried out the three afore-mentioned methods for keeping apples fresh.  

After six hours of sitting on the kitchen tables, the treated apples were all brighter and whiter than the apples that had been left untreated.  

I now cut my apples on Sunday night, treat them and then I have easy “grab-n-go” apples for the duration of the week!

Regardless of which method works for your family and budget, you will find each to work perfectly at saving your apples from turning brown!

More healthy lunch ideas with fruit

While the possibilities are truly endless those are a few of my absolute top healthy lunch ideas using fresh apples, berries and other fruits.

About MOMables - Laura

Mom to 3 kids, obsessed with coffee, meal planning, and helping you cook fresh meals for your family fast!