We’re here to let you know about the findings of a tantalizing new study. Its name? The “Effectiveness of Commercial and Homemade Washing Agents in Removing Pesticide Residues on and in Apples.” Or, in simpler terms, the best way to wash an apple. Researchers from the University of Massachusettes sought a method to rid the fruit of pesticide residue, both on its surface and beneath. The pesticides in question were thiabendazole and phosmet.
The test compared three washing agents: a baking soda solution, a Clorox bleach solution, and good old tap water. The FDA recommends giving your produce a scrub under the faucet to remove a layer of pesticides, while apple harvesters soak freshly picked bounty in Clorox baths. This study sought to test the effectiveness of two common methods.
What the team ultimately discovered was that, of the options, baking soda was the most effective in clearing the presence of chemicals. The scientists also point out that the two-minute Clorox bleach bath administered postharvest is an ineffective method for completely removing pesticide residues. Nonetheless, because nothing is ever perfect, the study is quick to indicate that no method, not even baking soda, was able to remove the pesticides that had penetrated the skin. To ameliorate this, they recommend pulling out a peeler and taking off that top layer. In which case, you'll lose the nutrients that the peel provides. Can we ever win?
Knowledge is power, they say—even if that knowledge makes us increasingly anxious about the state of our food. Next time I reach for an apple, maybe I’ll also grab some baking soda and a peeler, or maybe I’ll just walk to the faucet.
What's your apple washing technique? Let us know how you scrub in the comments.