Despite knowing the level of pesticides found in some of our favorite foods, I rarely washed them.
I have no excuse other than I’m lazy. Sometimes I just want to eat an apple without having to wash, scrub and dry it first. Sometimes I manage my time poorly and I NEED that produce NOW! There simply isn’t time to spray, sit, rinse and repeat. Is there really a point to washing a carrot if I’m going to peel the outer layer anyway?!
Yes, there is. It’s those little buggers up there. Does anyone really want to eat bugs for dinner?
And there’s more than bugs too. There could be a whole schlew of parasites, bacteria, pesticide or other toxic residue on the fruits and vegetables. Not to mention all the hands that have already touched those berries! They’re all hand-picked in the fields, where there is no soap and water readily available for hand washing. Just another reason why we started our own garden, and why everyone should consider growing their own vegetables, especially the ones you eat every day. Besides knowing who has touched your food and how it was grown, learning how to harvest lettuce could also save you a few bucks on your grocery budget. And every dollar counts!”
Even organic produce is at risk. Do you know any farms that use.. um, natural fertilizer? Are you going to take a big juicy bite out of an apple that fell to the ground tended with horse apples?
Of course not. But because I’m lazy, the cleaning solution needs to be really, really easy. And fast. And effective. Because even if it’s easy and fast, if it doesn’t do the job, it’s pointless.
We’ve recently discovered some amazing properties of apple cider vinegar, beyond using it as a soaking medium for grains (oh yes, it’s coming!) and in salad dressings. We’ve used it for healing sinus infections, croup, keep seasonal allergies at bay and even to remove a mole from Mr. Crumbs’ head! But that’s all coming tomorrow. First let’s talk about how we can try to clean that amazing seasonal produce that’s showing up at the farmer’s markets.
How to Clean Produce Naturally Using Apple Cider Vinegar
apple cider vinegar, filtered water, bowl, produce
Combine approximately 1 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar with approximately 1 cup of water in a bowl. I used a measuring spoon (because sometimes I’m picky like that), but you could eyeball a pour of each.
Place produce in the bowl and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Agitation is your best friend, so poke and stir while the vinegar does the job. I got sidetracked with peeling carrots while the berries soaked for 10 minutes instead of 5. I don’t know if they’re any cleaner, but at least the vinegar didn’t disintegrate them!
Remove the produce and rinse very well. Allow soft fruits like peaches and berries to air dry completely on a towel. Harder fruits like apples and mangoes can be hand dried using a towel.
Does it Work?
See for yourself. The bowl on the left is a clean, second batch of apple cider vinegar and water. The bowl on the right is the used batch that held the strawberries.
You can see some remnants of the strawberry seeds on the bottom, but there’s dirt down there too. Wondering what those black specks are on the side of the bowl?
More bugs. Gross!
I’ve officially come to the conclusion that eating bugs just isn’t appetizing. Now each morning after breakfast, I pull out a variety of fruit that will likely get eaten throughout the day, wash them all at once and set them to air dry on the towel. A nice little bonus is that with the fruit washed and laying out, the kids can just grab a bite whenever they want to. No need for Mommy to spend the day washing at their beck and call. 😉
Tips for Cleaning Produce
- Agitation is key. Make a point to stir the produce a time or two while soaking.
- Only soak the fruits and vegetables you plan on consuming within the next two days. Coming home from Costco and cleaning all your produce for the month is not a good idea.
- Obviously you can’t scrub strawberries, but pick up a bristle brush the next time you’re near a dollar store and use it exclusively on washing produce.
- Get all the nooks and crannies well; pesticides can hide there too!
- Just because you don’t eat the outside of cantaloupe and mangos, doesn’t mean you not should wash and scrub them too. Cross-contamination from the knife to the cutting board and into the flesh of the fruit is completely possible.
- Wash big batches directly in the sink. Fill up the sink with water, add a few big splashes of apple cider vinegar and soak away (don’t forget to stir!).
- Another method includes spraying the produce with the apple cider vinegar/water mixture and letting it sit for five minutes before rinsing. This would work too if you had a dedicated spray bottle (which I do not).
- Make sure produce is completely dry before storing in the fridge.
Do tell – do you clean your produce before eating? Or do you skip out on like me (well, the old me 😉 )?