How to Wash Fruits and Vegetables

From pesticides residue, dirt and bacteria

Fruits and vegetables can be contaminated in various ways before they reach us, and if used in such a state, they can pose a serious threat to our health. The type of contamination depends on the type of product, method of cultivation, type of transport, and method of storage and handling. Food can also get contaminated after we buy it, during food preparation, or inadequate storage. Whatever type of contamination is involved, it must be physically removed before consumption, to avoid foodborne diseases. In this article, we will tell you how to properly wash fruits and vegetables from pesticide residue, dirt, and bacteria.

According to health officials, millions of people around the world get sick from food contaminated with harmful bacteria every year. Research shows that a significant number of people do not wash fruits and vegetables after taking them out of packages or refrigerators. Rule number one when it comes to consuming fresh produce is to wash the products under running water, even if it is packaged, like tomatoes or capsicums, or pre-washed like spinach and salads. Commercial prewash is performed using chemicals that need to be physically removed by running water. The same rule applies to organic products.

The Food and Drugs Administration has several recommendations on how to prevent food borne diseases by properly handling fresh produce, and these include:
  • Choose products that are not damaged or crushed
  • Make sure sliced products such as watermelon are refrigerated, or on ice
  • Wash hands for 20 seconds before and after preparing fresh produce
  • Cut out the damaged parts before eating
  • Wash products before peeling to prevent the transfer of dirt and bacteria from the peel to the product
  • Gently rub the products while under running water – no need to use soap or commercial produce wash
  • Use a clean brush to scrub products such as cucumbers and melons
  • After washing, dry the products with a clean cloth or paper towel
  • Remove the outermost leaves of the head of lettuce or cabbage

EWG’s Dirty Dozen for 2022 

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale, collard and mustard greens
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Cherries
  8. Peaches
  9. Pears
  10. Bell and hot peppers
  11. Celery
  12. Tomatoes

EWG’s Clean Fifteen for 2022

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Onions
  5. Papayas
  6. Sweet peas (frozen)
  7. Eggplants
  8. Asparagus
  9. Broccoli
  10. Cabbages
  11. Kiwis
  12. Cauliflower
  13. Mushrooms
  14. Honeydew melons
  15. Cantaloupes

3 Ways to successfully remove pesticides from fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are pleasant and nutritious and are ideal food for our families. To make sure they are truly valuable to our health, it is important to wash off as much pesticide residue, dirt, and bacteria as possible.

Washing fruits and vegetables under running water for 20 seconds removes some of bacteria and some of pesticides and dirt. In order to have cleaner and healthier products, it is necessary to invest more effort and immerse them for 20 minutes in a solution of salt, vinegar, or bicarb soda.

Here is how to wash fruits and vegetables:

  • Soak in salt water using Himalayan salt or sea salt for 20 minutesScientists have found that a 10% salt water solution is effective for eliminating common pesticide residues including DDT. Rinse thoroughly with running water afterward.
  • Use a solution of bicarbonate soda (also known as bicarb and baking soda) to soak fruits and vegetables. Add 1 teaspoon of bicarb soda to 1 litre of water and soak for 15 minutes. Then rinse with running water.
  • Soak in vinegar (you can use apple cider vinegar, vine vinegar, or white vinegar) and water for 20 minutes. You need to use 1-part vinegar to 5-parts water, so 100 ml of vinegar would need to be mixed with 500 ml of water. This way of washing fruits and vegetables is more suitable for vegetables and large fruits because soft fruits such as berries can get soggy when soaked for too long.

Other ways to remove some dirt and pesticides include peeling the skin after washing it under running water. Research reveals that store-bought vegetable and fruit cleansers are no more useful than soaking in tap water.

Fruits and vegetables are the basis of a healthy organism. By removing as many pesticide residues as possible, we ensure that our consumption of fresh products provides all the necessary health benefits.

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➥ DISCLAIMER: This post is not intended to replace medical treatment. The information provided is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice.