Don’t get me started on how awesome apples are because, seriously, they’re delicious. But there’s a major problem with this tasty fruit: They’re dirty.
Conventional (nonorganic) apples often have residue inside and outside the apple from dozens of pesticides used in the production process. These pesticides can improve yield, but they can also have a devastating effect on groundwater and the environment, and they might affect the people who spread and consume them.
And while the apples found at the grocery store have already been washed or rinsed in a bleach solution to remove dirt and harmful microbes, the pesticide residue can still remain. Cleaning or washing conventional apples is a must, but with what?
Researchers at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, put together a study to develop a useful solution (pun intended).
The team purchased organic gala apples and treated them with common pesticides (thiabendazole and phosmet, the latter of which penetrates the skin of the fruit). Then they compared the effectiveness of rinsing the apples in running tap water, soaking them in a bleach for two minutes, or soaking them in a baking soda solution for two minutes. (After the bleach or baking soda soaks, they rinsed them in tap water to remove the solutions.)
The baking soda and water solution performed better than a both the bleach solution and the plain running tap water — but it’s still not without concerns.
One teaspoon of baking soda in two cups of water broke down the pesticides, which made it easier to wash them away. However, it didn’t completely remove the pesticides that had already gotten deeper into the fruit. And while each method was only tested for two minutes, it took 12-15 minutes to completely get rid of the two pesticides used in this study.
How long would it take to rid an apple of the dozens of pesticides used to grow it? Probably longer than most people are willing to wait for a piece of hand fruit, albeit a delicious one.
While baking soda is an affordable, accessible solution for removing pesticides from apples, the research team says peeling them is probably the best bet.
Or, if your budget allows and you have access, consider trying organic.
Just don’t let anything keep you from apples. Because, seriously, they don’t get nearly enough credit for their awesomeness.