Wash Fruits and Vegetables under Running Water
While growing fruits and vegetables, many farmers spray pesticides on the leaves and stems to protect the crop from damage. A considerable amount of pesticides also accumulate on the outer surface of the fruits and vegetables.
To remove the harmful residue and toxins, the best option is to wash your produce under running warm water before eating it. It is best to use warm water rather than very cold or hot water.
Make sure you don’t just quickly wash and wipe the produce as the pesticides do not simply dissolve in the water, it is the action of rubbing produce under water that helps remove the residue.
A 2012 report by the Department of Analytical Chemistry at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station shows that rinsing fruits and vegetables under tap water significantly reduced the residue of nine of the 12 pesticides examined across 14 commodities.
Dry with Paper Towels
After you have washed the fruits and vegetables, dry them thoroughly. This helps remove any remaining residue sticking to the surface.
Instead of using your kitchen towel, use disposable paper towels as pesticide residue may collect on kitchen towels that aren’t washed right away and may get transferred to other foods, hands and dishes.
Paper towels are good for drying apples, strawberries, pears, guavas and tomatoes. For firm fruits and vegetables, such as melons and root vegetables, a little scrubbing may be required.
For lettuce and other types of salad leaves and green vegetables, use a salad spinner to remove excess fluid.
After drying fruits and vegetables, you can store them without any danger of spoiling them due to moisture.
Remove the Peel or Outer Layer
Remove the peels of fruits and vegetables, whever possible. Carrots, radishes, beetroot and potatoes, in particular, should be peeled to reduce the chances of eating harmful pesticides along with your food.
Through peeling, you can get rid of both systemic and contact pesticides that appear on the surface of the fruits and vegetables.
It is also an effective method for produce treated with wax (for instance, apples), as pesticide residue may be trapped underneath the wax.
Make sure to peel after washing the produce to prevent dirt and bacteria from transferring from the knife or peeler onto the fruit or vegetable. After peeling, wash again and then consume.
For leafy greens like lettuce, kale or cabbage, discard the outermost leaves from the head. Some may consider it to be wasteful, but the outer layers have more pesticides than the inner layers.
Blanching and Boiling
Blanching and boiling are two popular cooking techniques that can help remove pesticide and harmful chemicals from food.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology found that regularly subjecting foods to heat treatment during preparation and preservation can help reduce pesticides to a great extent.
Heat treatments including pasteurization, boiling, cooking and others (depending upon the nature of the food) help reduce pesticides due to evaporation and co-distillation.
Before cooking green vegetables, soak them in warm water for a while to get rid of any leftover residue. Before blanching, make sure to thoroughly pre-wash the vegetables and fruits.
When it comes to animal products, it is highly recommended to boil or cook properly to remove pesticide residue from the animal fat tissues.
Animal products often have high amounts of pesticide residue since animals feed on fodder, which is sprayed with pesticides. Also, when cooking chicken, mutton or beef, cut off the excess fat and skin.
Even milk should be boiled at elevated temperatures to destroy persistent pesticide residue.