At times I purchase vegetable and fruit washes. For the most part now, when I can I make my own. I have read reports that say the purchased sprays are no more effective than making your own organic fruit and vegetable wash in addition, many of them contain chlorine, which kind of defeats the purpose. The store bought washes are also unfortunatley generally contained in a plastic bottle, which we all know contain their own mixed bag of harmful chemicals, plus we need to reduce our overall use of plastics.
Need further convincing to do it yourself 😅?
Well the University of Maine studied the most popular store-bought fruit and vegetable wash brands. They found that, not only did many of them contain chlorine (to kill bacteria on the produce), but in lab testing, they were no more effective than using distilled water. So, yeah, not excellent news BUT using a commercial wash is STILL better than NONE at all.
UNFORTUNATELY neither commercial washes nor distilled vinegar completely removed waxes, pesticides, and other residue from produce. It appears that homemade fruit and vegetable washes are effective at removing residue from produce, and help preserve the fridge-life of these foods since bacteria that may cause decay is removed. Additionally, they are made with ingredients you know and trust, all natural and are less expensive.
Nothing to lose, here!
It makes sense that different vegetables call for different methods of washing or time frames, so read this guide through to the end before racing to wash your produce.
The simplest and least expensive natural produce cleaner is plain white vinegar and yes, I mean organic white vinegar. I always opt for Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, but take your pick.
For most produce with a skin, this is all I use. I’ll place the fruits and veggies in a freshly cleaned kitchen sink (or a large bowl), fill with water, and add 1 cup of apple cider vinegar.
I mix all the ingredients together, submerge fruits or veggies and let them soak for up to an hour. Depending on how dense the item is and how thick the skin is, the timing varies. If I’m washing zucchini or snow peas for example, I’d probably leave them for 20-30 minutes. Broccoli, carrots, sweet potato and potato – I’d leave those for up to an hour. I then scrub gently with a rough cloth to remove any residue, and then rinse. To prevent decay, I let them dry completely before returning them to the fridge.
For soft peel fruits like grapes, kiwi fruit, cucumbers, peppers, or lettuces, I soak for about 5 minutes. I place my smaller fruits and vegetables in a strainer and then set them in the bowl of wash. I find this makes it easier to rinse them when the time is up.
Now, I loathe buying non-organic produce, especially commercial apples. If I have to, I work hard on my pet peeve – wax. So, I briefly run hot water over the apples to dissolve the wax before cleaning with the Apple Cider ritual above. Apples and pears tend to have vegetable oil or wax on them, so simply run hot water over the fruit or veggie into a bowl. Most waxes are vegetable based and this water can be thrown into your compost. Don’t do it for long or your fruit will discolour or go soft. Just long enough to get the wax off. If it’s softened up, you can wipe the remainder off with an old towel.
I then soak the apples and pears in the Apple Cider Vinegar mix for around 10minutes.
Berries are perhaps the most difficult to clean because they are so delicate and take on the flavour of anything that they come into contact with, including apple cider vinegar. This is clearly not the desired outcome. Unless vinegar and berries is your thing. Then, knock yourself out, you interesting freak.
Instead, I use diluted fresh lemon juice to clean berries. I mix 2 cups of water with 1/2 a cup of ,fresh lemon juice, spray this onto the berries, and let them sit for 5 minutes making sure the berries are well coated. I then soak them in fresh water for about 5 minutes. Dry completely before storing in the fridge!
It is best if you can clean your berries just before eating them, as the moisture tends to encourage mould.