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One honey of an alternate to sulfites.

One honey of an alternative to sulfites

For the same reason untreated apples turn brown once cut--a reaction involving the enzyme polyphenol oxidase, phenols in the fruit and oxygen in the air--freshly pressed apple juice quickly turns brown and cloudy. While roadside stands commonly sell such juice, it takes only a few days for the enzymatic activity to destroy the vitamin C and to give the juice an unpleasant taste. Most commercial producers avoid the problem by adding a pectin enzyme to limit cloudiness and sulfites to prevent browning. But concern over the life-threatening allergic reactions sulfites can trigger has prompted a search for more benign alternatives (SN: 7/25/87, p.63). And Cornell University chemists have happened onto a particularly sweet one: honey.

About 10 years ago, C.Y. Lee and co-workers in Cornell's laboratory at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva found that honey has the ability to clarify browned apple juice. Their new research relates this phenomenon to a characteristic protein that bees impart to their honey. This as-yet-unnamed protein interacts with the enzymatic-browning reaction products in apple juice, creating macromolecules that precipitate out.

Effective treatment involves mixing just 2 percent honey by weight with browned apple juice and letting it sit at room temperature for 90 minutes. The brown sludge that forms is easily filtered out. Pasteurizing the resulting juice provides the same long-lasting drink previously attainable only with sulfites, Lee says.

Though Cornell is seeking a patent on the process, the technique might not even be needed for juice from NY 674, a new apple the Geneva station hopes to introduce commercially next year. While most apples brown 5 to 20 minutes after they're cut open, the exposed flesh of NY 674 stays yellow-white for days. Lee's tests show the reason is its relatively low levels of the browning enzyme and phenols. Levels of each are less than 20 percent of normal.
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Title Annotation:honey used to preserve apple juice
Publication:Science News
Date:Oct 1, 1988
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