Learn how to cut an apple into slices or dice using this quick and easy method. Plus, tips to keep them from browning and proper storing. Great for a healthy snack, salad, or adding to pies, cookies, muffins, cakes, and even savory dishes!
I’ve got a fast method for slicing or dicing apples! The best part, no tedious coring is needed. This process can especially come in handy if a recipe requires pounds of cut fruit like an apple pie, crisp, or crumble.
The slicing will become a breeze after a few tries but keep in mind those cut apples will quickly turn brown when the flesh is exposed to oxygen. Don’t worry. I have simple tips for slowing down the color change to keep them looking beautiful for fruit platters, salads, and fillings for sweet treats.
Before eating apples picked off the tree and distributed to stores, it’s essential to give them a good rinse and dry. Cleaning removes any dirt and bacteria lingering on the surface and prevents the transfer of spoilage organisms onto the cut flesh when slicing.
Cutting board selection
The apple’s flesh is like a sponge, so use a clean cutting board. Otherwise, if you recently chopped onions or garlic, that pungent allium flavor will get absorbed into the apple. This can especially happen on wooden cutting boards.
Clean the board well, and give it a smell before using it. I prefer to use plastic or thick polyethylene cutting boards. They reduce flavor and odor transfer due to their nonporous surface.
Cut the apple into pieces
Place the apple on a cutting board, and hold it with the stem facing up. Looking down at the apple, you’ll see a small circular area where the apple curves down to meet the stem. Right at the top of that curve is where to make the cuts.
Use a sharp chef’s knife or paring knife to cut the side of the apple lengthwise, about ¼ to 1/2-inch down the right side of the stem. Turn the apple 180 degrees to cut off the other side, giving two halves. Rotate the apple to cut off the remaining two smaller sides. This will give a total of four pieces and a core.
Slice the apple
Working one at a time, place the pieces of apple on their flat side on a cutting board. Make slices lengthwise to the desired thickness. Thinly slicing the apple for tarts, crostatas, gallate, fruit platters, or charcuterie boards makes an elegant presentation. They can be as thin as ⅛ to 1/4-inch. For pies and snacking, make the cuts thicker, between ¼ to 1/2-inch.
Dice the apple
Stack apple slices on top of each other. Make slices down lengthwise to the desired width. Turn the stack to 90 degrees, making cuts crosswise the same width to create cubes. Smaller diced pieces are great to add as a topping for yogurt and oatmeal, cakes, muffins, and fillings for mini pies and turnovers.
How to peel an apple
There are two simple ways to peel an apple. This is often called for in a recipe to remove the skin because it’s chewy and fibrous, which can add an undesirable contrast in texture to the soft cooked flesh of apples, like for cakes and pies.
- Peeler: The fastest way is to use a peeler. I prefer a Y-peeler for its ergonomic shape. Starting from the top of the apple at the stem, peel down, creating strips. Rotate and peel until no skin remains.
- Paring Knife: Use a small sharp knife to peel off the apple skin. Start at the top near the stem. Firmly hold the apple in one hand and the paring knife parallel to the skin in the other. Make a shallow cut, rotating the apple clockwise until the peel is removed.
How to core an apple
Cut the apple in half through the center, starting at the stem end. This will give two halves. Now use a small melon baller or ½ teaspoon to scoop out the core, seeds, and stem from each apple half.
This method will yield slightly more apple flesh. However, it takes more time than my quick method, slicing off the flesh into four pieces around the core.
Cut apples can yield about 76 to 83% apple flesh, depending on the size and if the peel is removed. Here are good guidelines to use when determining how many apples are needed for a recipe:
- 1 pound of apples = About 2 large (~3.75″), 3 medium (~2.75″), 4 small apples (~2.25″).
- 1 pound of apples = About 3 cups sliced or diced
- 1 cup of apples = About ½ large, 1 small
How to keep apple slices from turning brown
After testing different methods to keep the apples from browning, I’ve found clear winners. To prevent browning, the easiest thing to do is to submerge cut apples in a bowl of cold water immediately. Also, covering the surface with a paper towel creates an extra barrier against oxygen.
In the past, I’ve often used lemon juice mixed with water to create an acidulated bath. This works well if using the apples the same day, but not overnight. For long-term storage, the best solution is to place the apples in lightly salted water for 10 minutes. It’s noticeably more white and stores well for several days.
How to store apples
To keep sliced apples fresh, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. Alternatively, place them in a resealable bag to further reduce browning, squeezing as much air out as possible. This can be placed in another container for extra protection against oxygen.
I like to make individually portioned bags for a quick snack throughout the week. Apples can also be placed in a single layer in a resealable plastic bag with the air removed and frozen for 6 to 9 months.
Apple recipes to try
- Apple butter
- Baked apple chips
- Apple oatmeal cookies
- Dutch apple pie
- Spiralized apple salad
- Apple strudel
The quickest way to cut an apple is to make cuts around the core to give four sections. Cut the sections straight down lengthwise, near the stem, rotating to achieve four pieces. Then you can further cut the pieces into desired shapes like slices or dice.
The key is to create a protective barrier around the apples to prevent further exposure to oxygen. This can be done by adding the pieces to cool water, acidulated water with lemon juice, honeyed water, or lighted salted water. Each method will have a minimal effect on taste, yet varies on how long it prevents color change.
Apples deliver more nutrition with the skin on. The skin contains insoluble fibers and more nutrients like vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, potassium, and polyphenols called flavonoids than a peeled apple. Some recipes call for peeling just to retain the soft texture of the flesh, as the skin is chewy.
How does lemon juice reduce browning on apples?
When apples are cut, their flesh is exposed to oxygen. Enzymatic browning occurs when the enzyme polyphenol oxidase interacts with the phenolic compounds in the flesh. This can happen in as little as 15 minutes! The ascorbic acid in lemon or lime juice acts as an antioxidant, reacting with oxygen first instead of the enzymes to slow browning. However, it’s best to use them within 12 hours. Prolonged exposure to citric acid causes the flesh to become softer.
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How to Cut an Apple
- 1 apple
- 1 cup cold water, optional
- ½ teaspoon table salt, sea salt, or kosher salt, optional
- Wash the Fruit – Rinse the apple under cool running water to remove any dirt. Dry with a clean towel.
- Remove the Peel (Optional) – Use a peeler to remove the skin from the apple. Alternatively, use a paring knife to peel off the skin. Firmly hold the apple in one hand and the paring knife parallel to the skin in the other. Make a shallow cut, rotating the apple clockwise until the peel is removed.
- Cut into Pieces – Place the apple on a cutting board. Hold the apple with the stem facing up. Use a chef's knife or paring knife to slice lengthwise, about ¼ to 1/2-inch down the right side of the stem. Turn the apple 180 degrees to cut off the other side, giving two halves. Rotate the apple to cut off the remaining two smaller sides. This will give a total of four pieces and a core.
- Slice the Apple – Place the apple pieces flat on the cutting board. Make slices lengthwise to the desired thickness, between ⅛ to ½-inch, depending on the recipe.
- Dice the Apple – Stack apple slices on top of each other. Make slices down lengthwise to the desired width. Turn the stack to 90 degrees, making cuts crosswise the same width to create cubes.
- Add to Water (Optional) – If not using apples soon after cutting, submerge them in a bowl of cold water. Place a piece of paper towel on top of the water. Drain well before using.Alternatively, make a saltwater solution if not using the apples within 12 hours. In a medium bowl, combine salt and 1 cup cold water. Immediately submerge the apples for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse well with cold water. Store in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag. For a larger batch, increase the amount of solution.
- Serving Size: Based on a large apple (approximately 3.25″), about 2 cups slices.
- Storing: Place sliced or diced apples in an airtight container or plastic bag with the air removed for 3 to 5 days.
- Freezing: Store in a single layer in a large resealable bag. Fruit can be frozen for up to 6 to 9 months.
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