Each year, the Environmental Working Group releases their list of the “dirty dozen” and “clean 15” fruits and vegetables according to how many pesticides are used in their production. Unfortunately, strawberries have topped the list of dirty produce for the past several years. This has left many of us wondering how to clean strawberries so that we can keep enjoying our favorite summer fruit without damaging our health!
While pesticides help our fruit and veg last longer, the same may not be true for what they do to humans. Many pesticides have been found to be both acutely and chronically toxic to the body, carcinogenic (that is, cancer-causing), and endocrine-disrupting (that means wreaking hormonal havoc) for women. So it’s in our best interest to make sure that we’re cleaning our produce properly.
Washing produce may seem as simple as giving it a rinse under the faucet, but it’s actually a little more involved than that. Rinsing your fruit and veg might help to remove some of the dirt and a few chemicals, but many harmful nasties will be left intact just waiting to enter our bodies and cause damage.
Fortunately, cleaning strawberries isn’t that hard. While the EWG does recommend that consumers choose to buy organic when purchasing anything on the dirty-dozen list (organic produce often contains less pesticides!), you should always ensure that you’re washing your strawberries properly before eating them.
Many grocery chains like Trader Joes sell produce wash ($20.74 for a two-pack, Amazon) that can help eliminate pesticides from your strawberries so they’re nice and clean. Simply follow the directions on the bottle to make a solution with the concentrate and water. Allow your produce to sit in the mixture for as long as directed, then dry your produce with a clean paper towel before eating or putting into a container to store.
You can also choose to make your own produce wash right at home, and it’s actually really simple! All you need is something you probably already have in the kitchen — vinegar.
White vinegar is truly one of those products that saves the day when it comes to cleaning your home, and it turns out the same is true for produce. Compounds in vinegar will help to dissolve pesticides from the surface of your strawberries so they’re safe to eat. Since the solution is so diluted, you don’t have to worry about the vinegar making your strawberries taste weird. The best part is, vinegar is all-natural so you don’t have to worry about any adverse affects of using it to clean your produce.
How to Make a Produce Wash With Vinegar
In a large bowl, combine four parts water with one part plain white vinegar. Submerge your strawberries in the water and allow to soak for at least 20 minutes. Once done, drain the strawberries and place them in a dish or on some paper towels to dry before storing or eating them.
That’s it! While washing your strawberries in this way might take a little more effort, know that in doing so, you’re protecting yourself and your family from toxicity and adverse health effects. That is definitely worth a few extra minutes!
This article originally appeared on our sister site, FirstForWomen.com.