I remember the time when you could eat apples straight from a tree. Of course, the best ones were apples picked from a neighbour’s tree. Nowadays, growing fruit and vegetables without the use of chemical compounds are rare. I wonder, is this really necessary? Does it taste better when you add chemicals? I don’t think so. I get annoyed when I see a “cook” in a kitchen that prepares a meal with unwashed fruit or vegetables. I always date to ask: “Are you participating in a competition: How, in the most dumbly way, poison a customer?” Believe me – every time I hear an answer like “I have no time” it turns me into a sadist without a shade of empathy. If you ever worked in a professional kitchen, you get what I mean. While I understand how important is to be fast and prepare meals quickly, I never compromise on the quality.
How about you? Do you wash vegetables and fruit?
Proper washing of vegetables and fruit is essential. That’s a fact. But how you should wash it properly? It may sound like a trivial question, although the answer is not that easy. I’m sure you already know, that you should always wash vegetables and fruit in cold water. You may think that you are indestructible, and this scarce amount of chemicals in the food will not harm you. If you wish to test your indestructibility level and pesticide tolerance, it is your own business. I, however, suggest that you value your health most, and in the result, also your well-being.
Not sure if you know but most pesticides used for farming are for the benefit of the farmers only, and not for us, the consumers. Of course, farmer’s life is tough, so they do everything they can to make it easier. Understandably, they don’t want to spray their crops after every rain. In Ireland, it would be a full-time job. That’s why they use something that is more resistant. Commonly used phosphorous organic pesticides or urethanes are produced in oily form, and therefore are hard to remove in a single wash with water. Such process facilitates work and saves farmers’ money, unlike ours. The pesticides are not visible to the naked eye or felt by touch. Therefore, they should not be mistaken with wax which is commonly used to cover, e.g. apples. You may be able to see those substances floating in water, after proper washing.
During washing vegetables and fruit, beside pesticides, you should also get rid of bacteria such as E. Coli, listeria (so dangerous for pregnant women), Salmonella or even polioviruses, etc., not to mention biological and physical pollutions.
Since I have managed to draw your attention, please concentrate because now you will learn how to save the life of your family.
Proper washing in cold water
If you, so far, have washed vegetables and fruit in clear water, it may be good enough, but is it? Are you sure you’re doing a great job that way?
We use cold water for washing fruit and vegetables for ages. And that’s good. Water, most of the time, can remove up to 75% from pesticide from fruit and vegetables. However, some of them require up to three washing! For example apples, plums, grapes, peaches or tomatoes. It would be the same for green leafy vegetables. Pesticides and bacteria can linger in all the crevices, so you need to make sure to do a thorough job. Some studies show that rinsing fruit and veggies in tap water alone will not remove pesticide residue. However, friction does help a big time. Rubbing the produce back and for with your hands or scrubbing with a brash for about 30 seconds will help with removing some pesticides. Therefore a proper washing in cold tap water may be good enough but still isn’t most efficient.
Get rid of bacteria – vinegar soak
Vinegar (acetic acid) is safe and often recommended to use as a home remedy to clean and sanitise. Did you know it can sterilise a variety of fresh fruits and vegetable surface too? Soaking your veggies and fruits in an acidic solution will help to remove bacteria but also some pesticides. Some researchers say there should be 10% of vinegar, other it should be no less than 30% of vinegar.
Soaking: You will need a clean double chamber sink, or two bowls of appropriate size, to allow easy washing of vegetables or fruit. Add a one-tenth (or if you prefer one-third) of wine vinegar, apple vinegar, or if you don’t have it, you can use an ordinary vinegar. If you have run out of any vinegar, you can use citric acid powder, in proportion 2-3 tablespoons per one litre of water. Rinse vegetables or fruit in thus prepared water for minimum 2-4 minutes.
Spray: one-third of vinegar and two-thirds of water; shake well to combine the ingredients thoroughly. Spray fruit and veggies, rub your fruit/veggie and leave it for a little while. Rinse it well.
Tip: Vinegar wash can also help to prevent mould on some fruits and veggies. Use it when you want to give a little bit longer life.
Get rid of pesticides – soda water solution
Water with an alkaline reaction such as soda water helps to get rid of pesticides. Sodawater has this magic power which leads to hydrolysis of the substances as mentioned earlier and their removal.
Method: Add one copious tablespoon of baking soda per one litre of water, and, again, soak the vegetables or fruit for 2-4 minutes. This time you may see what was sprayed onto your products. The water may become muddy or will turn slightly yellow, with an oily deposit on top, making it look like a poor imitation of your grandma’s Sunday broth served cold.
Spray: Mix one-tenth of baking soda with water. Pour into a spray and use it to rub your fruits and veggies before use. Remember to rinse it well.
Rinse it all
After washing in above water solutions, the last step is to rinse the vegetables or fruit in clear water, preferably with pH7 reaction. If you can’t check the pH, don’t worry, just remember to rinse it in tap or boiled water. Now, you can enjoy a new, clean and healthy flavour of the fruits of the earth. Check yourself – they taste better.
And here is a small hint… Remember, never mix washed and unwashed products, as it will make all your efforts futile. It may seem logical, but I have seen enough in my life, and prefer to mention even something obvious to avoid any misunderstandings.
You know perfectly well how to get rid of anything that stays on vegetables and fruit but have you ever wondered what is inside? If there is so much crap on the outside, how much of it remains inside? Perhaps, it is high time to consider choosing vegetables from organic, ecological farms. If we wash vegetables and fruit correctly, we can get rid of what is on the outside of a product. Still, we are unable to do the same with the substances inside. The choices you make today will affect the future life of your family and your own.
I know that organic food is expensive, but think, how much would it cost to fight cancer or other illness… and I don’t mean only money here. The choice is yours. Make your decision consciously.