How to Clean and Remove Pesticides from Fruits and Vegetables
Many years ago, my mom taught me a simple trick for cleaning mushrooms. Just soak them in water instead of running under water. When they soak, it’s amazing how much dirt typically comes off the mushrooms!
Now I use the same trick for any vegetables I can. On nights I'm making salads, it's not unusual to see multiple bowls or colanders sitting in bowls filled with water and vegetables. While I'm working on other tasks, the vegetables are happily soaking away the dirt and pesticides. Sometimes, bacteria too!
It struck me, though, am I losing nutrients by soaking the fruits and vegetables? In doing some research, there are a couple of things I learned:
1. Nutrient loss will be minimized if you wash/soak the vegetables and fruits BEFORE cutting them. In my case, I never cut before washing or soaking.
2. The benefits of properly soaking fruits and vegetables outweighs the minimal nutrient loss you'll experience. In fact, there are a few ways to soak the fruits and vegetables that help remove not only residue, but also pesticides:
- soaking time is 20 - 40 minutes
- do a quick cold water rinse after soaking
- Saltwater: Soak in a saltwater solution for 20 - 40 minutes. Dissolve 2 tsp salt into 4 cups of warm water. Let the water cool down before using.
- Vinegar Soak: Vinegar has the added benefit of being effective in removing some types of bacteria. Use anywhere from 1-part vinegar/4-parts water to full strength vinegar. One caution: on thin skinned items, such as berries, the vinegar taste might absorb, so you may want to use less vinegar or clean using a different method.
- Baking Soda: Dissolve 2 tsp baking soda into 2 cups of water. (I buy my baking soda for cooking from ThriveMarket. Read here to understand the difference between various brands of baking soda and why it may be better to spend a little bit more on your baking soda: The Great Baking Soda Anti-Hoax.)
- Cold Water: Research shows that cold water alone gets rid of most, but not all, pesticides.
- Buy Vegetable Cleaner: You can also use a fruit and vegetable wash (available in all groceries stores, Trade Joe's, etc.). I use these sometimes - mostly for items that I'm going to peel - but I don't like having to make sure I've rinsed off all the suds. But it does come in handy at times.