Recently I witnessed a mother peeling an apple for her child to eat. I was puzzled because as far as I know, apple peels are full of fiber and are great for promoting healthy digestion. When I asked her why she wasn’t giving her child the peel, she looked at me confused that I even asked and said: “Because it’s dirty of course”.

This came as a surprise to me since the apple looked clearly newly washed while she was cutting it. However, it turns out that a lot of people feel the same about fruit and vegetables just like this concerned mother does. They believe they should avoid the peel when they can, to avoid toxins and diseases. Consequently, many people are not getting the full benefit of what they’re eating. They think that no matter how you clean your fruit and vegetables, you can’t avoid toxins and pesticides.

We’re here to tell you that’s not true. Although, it’s true that in this day and age there is practically no food that is 100% free of pesticide residue. We’ll show you how to wash your produce to protect yourself and your family from foodborne illness. If you just follow these simple instructions, you’ll be able to eat whatever you want without a care in the world. (just don’t eat the pit)

Why Buy Organic?

Even Organic farmers use pesticides, albeit they use different less harmful ones but they’re toxic nonetheless. That’s why there is a list of vegetables and fruit that are notorious for being covered in the most pesticides. You want to make sure to buy anything on this list from organic sources. It’s called the Dirty Dozen, as it’s the most contaminated produce
Dirty Dozen:
  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Nectarines
  4. Apples
  5. Grapes
  6. Peaches
  7. Cherries
  8. Pears
  9. Tomatoes
  10. Celery
  11. Sweet Bell Peppers
  12. Hot Peppers

On the other hand, there is a list of produce that is usually the least contaminated called the Clean Fifteen

 

Clean Fifteen:

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet corn (Note: could be GMO*)
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Onions
  6. Sweet peas, frozen
  7. Papayas (Note: could be GMO*)
  8. Asparagus
  9. Mangos
  10. Eggplant
  11. Honeydew Melon
  12. Kiwi
  13. Cantaloupe
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Broccoli

 

Now you know which produce needs extra attention and specific wash instructions (Dirty Dozen), let’s see how to effectively clean those fruit and vegetables. There are basically 3 different ways you can go about cleaning your produce. You can use any of these methods on whatever fruit or vegetables you want but there are some exceptions.

1.Salt Water

2.Vinegar

3.Baking Soda

 

Salt Water: You fill up your container with water, add 1-2 teaspoons of salt and soak your fruit and vegetables for 5minutes before washing out the salt. This almost 2% water solution will wipe away most of the contact pesticide residues.

Vinegar: Soak your produce in a container filled with 2 cups of water and 1/2 cup of white vinegar (Ratio 4:1) for 30mins.

Baking Soda: Soak your fruit and veggies in a large bowl with water and a teaspoon of baking soda for 2mins. Wash off the baking soda then scrub with a brush and give the produce a final rinse.

 

Exceptions:

Berries:

It’s a myth that you need to wash your berries right as you take them home. Berries actually need a dry non-humid cool storage area to last long. Washing them and refrigerating them will lead to them spoiling way sooner if you had waited to wash them.

It’s best to rinse berries under cold water in a mesh strainer right before you plan to eat them. Make sure to dry them first thoroughly with a clean paper or kitchen towel before you place any back in the fridge.

 

Mushrooms:

Mushrooms have always stirred up a debate when it comes to the topic of washing or not washing them. Some chefs feel that gently wiping it with a damp towel is sufficient. While others feel the need to gently scrub them with a mushroom brush and then briefly rinse them under running water. Either way, it’s extremely important to pat your mushrooms dry very well with a kitchen or paper towel before you start cooking with them.

 

All in all, it’s really not that difficult to thoroughly clean your fruit and veggies, as long as you just pay close attention to what you’re buying, where you’re buying it from (choose organic where possible) and which method works the best for you.

 

*GMO (Genetically Modified Organism): is an organism that has had its DNA altered or modified in some way through genetic engineering.