This Is the Best Way to Wash Apples, Researchers Say

What’s the best way to rid your Galas and Fujis of potentially risky pesticides?

Photo by: Alena Kogotkova / Getty Images, Inc.

Alena Kogotkova / Getty Images, Inc.

Before you bite into that yummy autumn apple, make sure you give it a good scrub. Got to remove those pesky pesticides. (Apples are all the way up there at No. 4 on EWG’s "Dirty Dozen," part of the consumer group’s 2017 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.) But what’s the best way to rid your McIntosh and Fujis, not to mention your Galas, Granny Smiths and your old friend Golden Delicious, of potentially risky chemicals?

The key ingredient may be right there in your kitchen pantry: baking soda.

Yep, a new study indicates that the humble boxed baking staple — already an all-around problem solver and world freshener — is also the most effective agent to remove pesticide residue from fresh produce.

Researchers affiliated with the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, looked into how effective several commercial and homemade washing agents were at removing pesticide residues both on and below the surface of apples and found that, when compared with washing with tap water or an EPA-approved bleach solution commonly used on produce, baking soda removed the most pesticide residues.

Washing apples in a 1 percent baking-soda-and-water solution for 12 to 15 minutes reduced the residues of the fungicide thiabendazole by 80 percent and the insecticide phosmet by 96 percent, breaking them down to help them be washed away, the study determined. Yet, even after washing with a baking soda solution, some pesticides that had penetrated the apple remained.

"In practical application, washing apples with NaHCO3 solution can reduce pesticides mostly from the surface," diminishing the risk they may present to humans, the authors concluded. For pesticides that had penetrated the peel, however, it’s more effective to peel the apple.

"However," they note, "bioactive compounds" — the good-for-you stuff — "in the peels will become lost, too."

So then to peel or not to peel, that is the question, right?

Photo: iStock

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