How to Clean the “Dirty Dozen” Fruits and Vegetables
The "Dirty Dozen" refers to 12 fruits and vegetables most likely to be covered in pesticide residue. (Yuck!) Here's how to safely clean each one.
To help remove pesticides and bacteria, rinse your fresh strawberries in salt water. Dissolve one teaspoon of salt for every cup of warm water and let cool before adding your strawberries. Let them soak for a couple of minutes, then rinse under cool running water.
Simply running water over your spinach probably won’t make it clean enough to eat. (Here’s why.) Instead, fill a clean sink or large bowl with cold water and swish your salad greens around. This dislodges any grit that might be stuck in the leaves.
Before biting into a juicy nectarine, give it a baking soda bath. (It’s one of the most effective ways to eliminate germs and bacteria, including E. coli.) Just combine one ounce of baking soda with roughly 100 ounces of water, then let your nectarines soak for 12 to 15 minutes. Rinse and enjoy!
There’s a reason apples at the grocery store are so shiny—they’ve been sprayed with a chemical to give them a waxy sheen. Using a soft bristled brush to gently scrub the outside of the apple will remove this layer much more effectively than rinsing alone.
Grapes are one of the hardest fruits to clean properly. The solution? Baking soda and salt. Place your grapes in a bowl, sprinkle with 1-2 teaspoons salt and 1-2 teaspoons baking soda. Shake the bowl to evenly coat each grape, then rinse thoroughly with cold water. Psst! This new grape variety tastes like candy.
Because peaches have such thin skin, it’s best to use your hands (not a bristled brush) when washing. Even when you’re peeling peaches to make a delicious dessert like peach cobbler, you should still wash the fruit first. If not, you risk some of the leftover pesticides soaking into the peach itself.
Cherries, like apples and grapes, tend to have a waxy chemical coating. You can remove it by soaking fruit in a vinegar solution. Fill a large bowl with water, add a cup of distilled white vinegar and then pour in your cherries. Let ’em soak for 15 minutes before rinsing thoroughly.
The fruit and vegetable wash you see for sale is often not effective, and can also contain chemicals like chlorine. DIY a safer wash at home by mixing lemon juice, vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spritz on your pear, rub gently and then rinse with water.
A quick rinse under the faucet won’t cut it for tomatoes (or any produce, really). The key is to hold your tomatoes under cold running water for 30-60 seconds, and rub gently to remove germs, dirt and pesticide residue.
Always separate celery stalks before washing (don’t wash the whole bunch together) to make sure you get in all the nooks and crannies! If you can’t get rid of those brown streaks at the base of the stalk, cut that section off before eating.
Your dishwasher is for more than washing dishes. It can also wash your potatoes! Load your spuds into the racks (like you would your plates), then run the dishwasher without soap. This is a great—and very efficient—technique when you have a lot of potatoes to prepare.