My Apple Is Brown Inside: Is It Safe To Eat?

If you’ve cut open an apple and discovered that the inside of the fruit’s flesh is flecked with brown or has brown splotches, you might be feeling pretty put off. You may also be wondering if it is okay to eat apples that are brown inside, or if you should throw them away.

A few different things can cause brown to appear inside an apple, including CO2 damage, cold storage, oxidization, and calcium deficiencies. Your apple may be okay to eat, but you might want to cut off the affected areas, as they are likely to be mushy and unpleasant.

Let’s find out more about what makes apples go brown and whether you can safely eat an apple with brown bits or not.

What Causes Apples To Turn Brown Inside?

apple

A few different things can cause an apple to turn brown inside, and it isn’t always easy to figure out what the exact cause is. If the skin is firm and unbruised but there are brown flecks or areas inside the apple, it may be because:

  • The apple got cold during transit
  • The apple has been exposed to too much CO2
  • The apple has been damaged by a maggot
  • The apple has a calcium deficiency

If the skin has been bruised, there’s a high chance that any brown flecks are due to oxidization, and this can result in mushy flesh that has an unpleasant, watery, or bland flavor. If this happens, you may want to cut the area out of the apple.

Let’s explore each of these options in more detail so you understand what causes browning and whether it’s okay to eat the fruit or not.

The Apple Got Cold During Transit

Cold is a big issue when shipping apples and many other kinds of fruits. They need to be chilled to slow down the ripening process, or there is a high risk that they will go off before they reach their destination. This is particularly true for any apples that are traveling a long way and therefore need to last longer.

Chilling an apple too much can cause several different kinds of damage, including something known as soft scald. Soft scald produces light discoloration on the skin of the apple, a little like a blister, and fungal decay inside it. You should be careful about eating an apple if you think it might have fungal spores in its flesh.

Superficial scald is another common problem associated with cold storage, and it happens when apples are kept cold for more than 3 months. This often results in brown splotches on the skin and inside the apple.

If you think the apple has been damaged by cold storage, you should cut off all the bad flesh and some of the surrounding good flesh. The rest of the apple should be okay to eat but throw it away if it is mushy or smells unpleasant.

The Apple Has Been Exposed To Too Much CO2

Apples will turn brown inside if they are exposed to too much CO2, and this often happens during storage because the cells take in oxygen and expel CO2. If the CO2 builds up around the apples and prevents them from getting the oxygen they need, the apple will start to ferment inside.

This leads to the cell walls inside the apple breaking down, allowing the contents of the cells to leak out and mix – which produces brown flecks or splotches. This may not show at all on the apple’s skin, but you’ll see it when you cut the apple open.

These apples should be fine to eat if they still smell and taste fresh, but they may be a little mushy and lacking in flavor, because the cells have begun to break down.

The Apple Has Been Damaged By A Maggot

The idea of finding a maggot in your apple is one that most people find stomach-turning, but it’s very unlikely to actually happen. Instead, you might sometimes see maggot damage – the brown cells inside your apple.

These happen because the maggot has eaten some of the apple’s flesh before crawling away. This damage, as described above, allows the contents of the apple’s cells to mix and turn brown.

The apple should still be okay to eat if the damage was produced by a maggot. You might also find a small blemish on the apple’s flesh where the female laid the egg.

The Apple Has A Calcium Deficiency

If an apple tree is deficient in calcium, this will often show up in the fruits it produces. Some apple varieties are far more vulnerable to this than others, including Gravenstein apples and Honeycrisp apples. You should be able to see small brown dimples on the external flesh of the apple if it is lacking in calcium. 

This problem is sometimes referred to as bitter pit. You can eat apples with a small amount of brown flecking, but if there’s a lot, you will find the fruit unpleasant. You should also note that it won’t keep well, so it needs to be used up quickly.

The Apple Has Started To Oxidize

In some cases, brown spots inside the apple are the result of a process called oxidization – and it’s the same browning that occurs if you cut the apple and leave it exposed to fresh air. 

This is most likely to happen if the fruit has got bruised at some point. The bruise will break the cell walls and the compounds within those walls will react with the oxygen and turn brown.

You will usually see signs of this on the apple’s skin, too, since this area is likely to take the most impact damage. There is often a circle of brown, mushy flesh where the apple was hit.

Conclusion

An apple with a small amount of brown inside it should be okay to eat as long as it smells and tastes okay, but you may wish to cut the brown area out of the fruit and throw it away. Brown flesh tends to be mushy and unpleasant, and it may contain bacteria that you don’t want to consume.

Hey there! My name is Alex and I've been vegan for over five years! I've set up this blog because I'm passionate about veganism and living a more spiritually fulfilling life where I'm more in tune with nature. Hopefully, I can use Vegan Foundry as a channel to help you out on your own journey!