Nancy Dell: Washing produce with vinegar; Evaporated cane juice

1. Does washing produce with vinegar remove pesticides?
Mike, Internet

While we love out fruits and vegetables, we certainly would like to eat them with out pesticides on them.  If we can’t buy organic, we can do our best to remove pesticides at home.

In studies at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, scientists compared methods to remove pesticides on 196 samples of lettuce, strawberries and tomatoes. Some were rinsed under tap water for a minute; others were treated with either a 1 percent solution of soap or a fruit and vegetable wash. Tap water significantly reduced residues for 9 out of 12 pesticides, and it worked as well as soap and wash products.

The most important factor in reducing pesticides was friction – the mechanical action of rubbing the produce under water. The water temperature did not matter.

So what about vinegar?  I could find no scientific studies to show that vinegar removed pesticides. But vinegar can remove bacteria and we have seen many people sickened by bacteria on spinach, cantaloupe and other produce.

Researchers at the University of Florida found rinsing the fruit in a 10 percent vinegar solution removed 90 percent of the bacteria. So the bottom line is this – remove bacteria by rinsing produce in a 10 percent solution of vinegar. Then rinse and scrub the produce under tap water for 30 seconds to remove as many pesticides as possible.

You shouldn’t do this as soon as you buy them, however. Once you clean them, they can spoil faster. Clean them just before you eat them.

2. Is evaporated cane juice better than sugar?
Joanne, Internet

If you read labels, you may see evaporated cane juice on the label but you can’t buy it in a bottle. Basically it comes from the same place as sugar.

Here is how it works. Sugar cane is shredded and pressed to make a juice that is boiled into a syrup and that is called evaporated cane juice.  When water is evaporated from the syrup you get wet sugar crystals. The wet part is spun out to make molasses and the dry crystals that are left is brown sugar. One more purifying step makes white sugar.

Molasses has a little bit of iron in it but all these parts of the sugar cane have minimal nutritional value and should be eaten in moderation.

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