red apples

Before biting into a juicy apple, you may want to wash any pesticides off its skin. You can buy special fruit and vegetable washes in the grocery store, but new research shows a simple solution you can make at home performs well.

Removing Pesticides in Your Own Kitchen:

Scientists at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst tested a way to remove pesticides from apples (Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, online October 25, 2017). They coated Gala apples with the fungicide thiabendazole or the broad-spectrum pesticide phosmet. Tests showed how much pesticide the apple skins contained before they were washed.

Then the investigators washed them in plain water, water with bleach or water with baking soda. None of the washing techniques completely removed thiabendazole that had soaked through the skin into the apple’s flesh. Nonetheless, a 12-minute soak in water and baking soda did a good job getting thiabendazole off the skin, while a 15-minute soak in the same solution got rid of phosmet.

Can You Do This at Home?

The solution used in the laboratory was one teaspoon baking soda in two cups of water. That should be accessible in nearly any home kitchen. The true test will be patience: remember to allow the apples to soak in the baking soda solution for 15 minutes to get the pesticides off the skin. We’d suggest rinsing in plain water to remove any hint of baking soda as well.

Presumably, the amount of pesticides residue on a single apple is small. It might not be enough to cause any problems for an adult eating the apple. But it makes sense to minimize exposure as much as possible, especially when the solution is so simple.

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