Chemistry in the Kitchen


Why do some fruits and vegetables turn brown after you cut them?

When you cut or drop an apple, potato, or other fruit, some cells leak their contents, exposing all sorts of cellular machinery to air. The key player in the browning of fruits is tyrosinase, an enzyme that is involved in the oxidation of tyrosine specifically and phenols in general. Tyrosinase plays two key roles in the production of melanin, which is a general term for all sorts of pigments found in plants and animals. So once tyrosinase leaks out of the cell, it is exposed to all the oxygen and phenols it needs to start making brown pigments.


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