A New Way to Clean Apples

A New Way to Clean Apples

Apple picking is a fall tradition and, depending on where you live, you can enjoy that fresh-off-the-tree flavor of more than 100 varieties grown commercially around the US. The colonists planted the first apple trees here in the 1600s—crabapples are the only native variety.

No matter what your favorite apple is, unfortunately, chances are it’s coated in pesticides! For the past eight years, apples have been in the Environmental Working Group’s list of the Dirty Dozen produce, with the most pesticide residues. In fact, apples held the number one spot for five years running.

Researchers have found a great way to get most of the pesticides off apples, and it’s not by rubbing them on your shirt.

A study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry says soaking apples in a 1 percent baking soda/water solution is more effective than a two-minute chlorine rinse or tap water. Testing for two kinds of pesticide (thiabendazole and phosmet), it took 12 and 15 minutes for the baking soda solution to banish all surface residue. However, 20 percent of the applied thiabendazole and 4.4 percent of the applied phosmet penetrated into the apples—so you might be better off with organic varieties.

Bring a bushel of apples home, mix three tablespoons of baking soda into a gallon of water and soak your apples for 15 minutes. Then wash ‘em off in tap water. You could also peel the fruit, but you’ll lose the peel’s nutrients along with surface pesticides.

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