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Now that spring is here and summer is on the way, it is a great time to enjoy the fresh fruits of the season in a salad. Yet, these vibrant, luscious fruits don’t tend to last very long and turn brown rapidly. Happily, the juice of the springtime citrus fruit (lemon) can keep fruit salad fresh for hours.

Why does fruit salad turn brown?

After carefully cutting and combining various slices of apple, strawberry, or banana, the pieces of fruit begin to turn brown before long. This is a result of oxidation. When fruit is exposed to oxygen (the air), it starts a process called enzymic browning. This makes your fruit turn brown. While this process doesn’t usually affect the taste of the fruit, it makes it look less appealing.

Why does lemon juice help?

To prevent the effects of oxidation, fruit needs citric acid, and lemons are full of it. As a natural antioxidant, lemon juice can help prolong the life of fruit salad (as well as its visual appeal) by inactivating the enzyme polyphenol oxidase, which is responsible for the browning. Besides keeping fruit salad fresh, lemon juice can also enhance its flavor. The acidic bite of the citrus emphasizes the sweetness of the other fruits, and also helps bring out their juices.

How much lemon juice should I use in fruit salad?

To keep the taste of lemon from overwhelming all the other flavors in the salad, try using two tablespoons of lemon juice and one teaspoon of sugar for every four cups of fruit. Combine the lemon and sugar in a small bowl until the sugar is dissolved, then pour the mixture onto the fruit salad. However, the amount of lemon juice you use is ultimately up to you. If you like a tart bite to fruit salads, increase the amount of lemon juice you add. For extra protection against oxidation, use a wooden spoon to mix the finished product rather than metal.

Use sturdy fruits

Your fruit salad should reflect your favorite fruits, but if you’re looking for longevity, some ingredients are better suited to storage than others.

· Store Better — apples, oranges, peaches, mangos, blueberries, and grapes

· Don’t Store Well — bananas, watermelon, raspberries, and strawberries.

What else can I do to help keep my fruit salad fresh?

Keep fruit salad covered and refrigerated until ready to serve. Store leftovers tightly covered in the refrigerator.

Reduce chopping

To increase the amount of time your fruit salad lasts, roughly chop it into larger pieces. This keeps the fruit from leaking too much juice. For fruits with edible skins, leave the skins on.

Whatever fruit you enjoy, there are a plethora of fruits coming into season. With this knowledge — and a few slices of lemon — you are well-equipped to win the battle between fresh fruit salad and the open air.

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