Why do apples rot?

Written by mark orwell
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Why do apples rot?
Oxidation is the main reason apples rot. (apfel in rot image by Klaus Eppele from Fotolia.com)

Leave an apple to sit and, eventually, it will turn brown and rot. This is the case for all varieties of the fruit. Various factors influence the rate of rot, though, and there are even different ways that an apple will start rotting.

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The main reasons apples rot involves the oxidation process. When an apple is bruised, cut open or wounded in any way, oxygen enters it and reacts with phenolic compounds within the apple. This causes the apple to brown and the rot will quickly spread and result in a shrivelled fruit.


While all apples naturally rot, not all of them do so at the same rate. A number of factors affect the rate of rot in a particular variety of apple. Those that are high in acid will rot at a slower rate, as will those with stronger cell walls. Varieties with high levels of the Polyphenol oxidase enzyme will rot more quickly.

Fungal Disease

Apples can also rot because of fungal disease. There are three types of these fruit rot disease: bitter rot, white rot and black rot. Bitter rot is the most harmful to apples. The fungus Glomerella cingulata can remain dormant over the winter in apple groves and infect apples when they grow, causing them to rot very quickly. This form of rotting can also spread to other parts of an apple tree, causing harm to more than just the fruit.

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