You’ve been washing apples wrong

Krista Thurrott

If oranges, grapes and apples are regulars on your grocery list, you need to take note.

This year, apples were listed as number four when it comes to produce with the highest amount of pesticide residue – just behind strawberries, spinach and nectarines.

They are one of the most commonly listed items on the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Dirty Dozen list, so ensuring you remove residual pesticides is important.

But why are apples particularly pesticide-laden?

Apples tend to have the most pesticides. Photo: Getty

“Apples tend to have the most pesticides because of the chemicals applied to the crop before and after harvest to preserve them longer,” explains the EWG.

Supermarkets clean fruits and vegetables to remove dirt, but pesticides often squeak by in the cleaning process. 

While we all have different methods of washing our favourite produce – whether it’s a quick buffing with your sleeve or rinsing under a tap – a new study from the University of Massachusetts has found a new way to cleanse apples that ensures all pesticide residue is removed.

And the technique is quite simple: soak the fruit in a baking soda solution before rinsing.

Use baking soda and water. Photo: Getty

In the study, researchers tried three different washing methods on apples which had been previous sprayed with the two most common pesticides.

After leaving the pesticides on the apples for 24 hours, the apples were washed in the bleach solution used by supermarkets, plain water, and the baking soda and water combination.

In just two minutes, the baking soda solution had removed most of the pesticide residue, with water coming in second and the bleach solution coming in last. After 12-15 minutes, the baking soda solution had removed all remaining pesticide residue.

To try out this method for yourself, dissolve one teaspoon of baking soda for every 500 mL of water, soak the fruit for at least two minutes then rinse with water.

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