Apples are delicious whole, but something about slicing them makes them even more enticing. Maybe it’s because they’re easier to dip into hummus or peanut butter (but ideally caramel sauce), or maybe it’s just the convenience factor. The only problem is, the slices we pack for lunch are always an unappetizing brown by the time we dig them out of the fridge.
Apple slices turn brown because enzymes called polyphenol oxidase (PPO) in the fruit’s flesh react with oxygen in the air. The chemical reaction makes the fruit go from a soft yellow to a rotten-looking brown, according to Scientific American. (Find out why apples have little spots on their skin, too.)
There are a few ways to hold the browning at bay, like soaking apple slices in salt water or lemon juice to prevent oxidation. But an easier way is just picking the right variety. Some apple varieties have less PPO, which is why they don’t brown as fast as others. (Bought too many? Check out these creative ways to use apples besides eating them.)
Naturally, some producers have genetically modified their apples to have way less PPO, according to NPR. (Find out whether you should bother looking for non-GMO and 5 other food claims.) The USDA approved them to be sold in the United States in 2015, but beyond a select few Midwestern grocery stores, the “Arctic apples” are hard to find.
If you aren’t crazy about GMOs, there’s another option that’s totally natural. Opal apples are naturally low in PPO, which means they’ll stay crisp and white long after you cut them. Serious Eats even tested the claim, and after sitting out unwrapped for more than six hours, the apple had barely any browning. Plus, according to the Opal website, they’re the first apple to be verified by the Non-GMO Project, the gold standard for certification.
The variety is a cross between a Golden Delicious and Topaz apple, and it’s crisp with a sweet, floral flavor. Opal apples are sold in all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C., and Canada. Every state except Hawaii sells them at Walmart, but you can find them in most other major grocery stores, too. (This is what the sticker on your fruits means—it’s not for checkout.) Pick them up for a healthy snack that will still look tasty as leftovers.