Nowadays, most commercial vegetables and fruits are treated with pesticides and herbicides. Pesticides and herbicides can be dangerous for our health. Washing them with water isn’t enough. So, how to wash vegetables and fruits properly?
How to wash vegetables properly?
Pesticides and herbicides tend to concentrate in the peel of fruits. We have to wash them thoroughly, in order, to minimize exposure to these chemicals.
Most people wash vegetables and fruits with tap water. That isn’t the best solution, though. Most chemicals remain in the peel of fruits and vegetables.
You can add vinegar or baking soda in the water to wash vegetables and fruits properly.
How to wash vegetables with vinegar?
Vinegar can kill pathogens, such as Escherichia coli. Acetic acid, the main ingredient in vinegar, inhibits the growth of food-borne pathogenic bacteria.
Prefer to use vinegar with at least 2.5% acetic acid, in order, to properly wash vegetables. The higher the acetic acid concentration, the better. You can find vinegar with up to 10% acetic acid. You can use any cheap white vinegar, though.
Scientists found that a vinegar with 10% acetic acid concentration can inactivate food pathogenic bacteria in 1 minute (1). If we dilute the vinegar in water, the time for inactivation of pathogen increases significantly. For instance, vinegar with a fourfold dilution will kill the same pathogen in 150 minutes. That’s 21/2 hours.
So, how to wash your vegetables properly? Practically, in a bowl, add warm water and submerge your vegetables or fruits. Add at least 2-3 tablespoons of vinegar. Let your vegetables or fruits in the solution for 2-3 hours.
Wash vegetables & fruits using warm water
Who can wait for 3 hours? Vinegar solution can be more effective if you use warm water, instead of water at room temperature.
Scientists found that the same vinegar solution needs 40 times less time if it’s heated at 45 oC, compared to 30 oC. 50 oC can be even more effective for properly washing vegetables and fruits.
Higher temperature can be even more effective for killing pathogens. For instance, vinegar solution that is heated at 75 oC, found to need only 1 minute to inactive bacteria. But, heat can destroy nutrients, alter flavor and texture of vegetables. So, it’s a vital solution.
Use warm water to wash vegetables and fruits. Vinegar solution at 50 oC can be effective against food pathogenic bacteria.
Add salt to the vinegar solution
Another great way to wash fruits and vegetables properly is by adding salt in the vinegar solution.
An experiment showed that adding 5% salt in a vinegar solution shortened the time required to inactivate pathogens, such as E. coli, to 1/140. The vinegar solution alone needed 740 minutes to fight bacteria. Salt shortened this time to less than 6 minutes (1).
The best way to wash fruits & vegetables
So, what’s the best way to wash vegetables and fruits properly? Combining all 3 methods:
- use 5% vinegar,
- heat water at 50 oC,
- add 2-3 tablespoons of salt.
How effective is the combination?
- Vinegar solution at 20 oC needs about 740 minutes to kill E. coli.
- If we heat the solution at 40 oC, only about 15 minutes are needed (x51 less time).
- if we add salt in the vinegar solution at 20 oC, only 6 minutes are needed (x140 times less time).
- but…if we heat the vinegar solution at 40 oC and add salt, it could kill bacteria in under 1 minute (x830 less time).
In a bowl put in your vegetables or fruits. Heat water at 50 oC and put it in the bowl. Add 2-3 tablespoons of vinegar and salt. Let your vegetables in the solution for several minutes. Rinse thoroughly.
Baking soda to wash fruits & vegetables
Another great way to wash vegetables and fruits is baking soda.
Baking soda can remove surface pesticide residues effectively (2). Certainly, a baking soda solution is better than tap water. Even from other commercial solutions.
Moreover, baking soda solution can remove pesticide surface residues in 15 minutes.
Seems like, 10 gr of baking soda per 1 liter of water is enough to remove most pesticide surface residues. The baking soda solution is a really cheap way to wash your veggies. You can buy baking soda in bulk. It’ll last forever.
Add 1 gr of baking soda per 100 ml of water, to make a cheap but effective baking soda solution, in order, to wash vegetables and fruits, against pesticides.
So, what’s the best way to remove pesticides?
Baking soda is good for washing vegetables and fruits, in order, to remove pesticides, but it can’t remove them 100%.
Pesticides can penetrate fruits and vegetables. Studies have shown that 4-20% of pesticide can penetrate deep enough in fruits (2). Baking soda solution can remove only surface pesticide residues.
Peeling is the most effective way to remove penetrated pesticides. But it isn’t the best solution. Peel contains most nutrients. It’s the first line of defense against predators and weather conditions. For instance, the skin of sweet potatoes is high in beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is a powerful carotenoid that protects our eye health.
Another reason to prefer cooking potatoes with the skin is that skin is pretty high in dietary fiber. Fiber will keep you full for longer. We should consume about 30 gr of fiber daily. Most people fail to consume even half of this amount.
Therefore, it’s better to buy seasonal organic fruits and vegetables. You don’t have to worry about herbicides or pesticides. Just wash them with a warm solution, that contains vinegar and salt…