Those pesky pesticides

Having written, the other day, about growing your own food to avoid unwanted chemicals, I’ve been doing a little more thinking. A friend asked me whether washing vegetables in dilute vinegar would help reduce pesticide residues more than washing with water alone. My initial thought was that, even if this did work, it would only help with surface residues, not pesticides that the plant had absorbed. I did do a bit of reading around and I didn’t find an answer to the original question but I did come across an interesting piece from Cornell University, entitled Can you wash pesticides off your fruits and vegetables? They note that various heat treatment (e.g. pasteurisation, canning and frying) have been found to reduce pesticides, as have milling, brewing, baking, malting and wine-making, but that drying and dehydrating can increase pesticide levels. Their conclusion:

Washing your produce certainly removes pesticide residue from the outside, but there’s no clear data showing whether it reduces pesticide exposure compared to consuming organic fruits and vegetables.

So, it does seem that the safest option is to grow or buy fruit and vegetables that have not been exposed to pesticides in the first place. At this point, it’s worth noting that some pesticides are acceptable in organic systems, so buying something that is labelled ‘organic’ does not necessarily mean that it is pesticide-free.

With home-grown produce, you need not worry about pesticides if you know you have not applied any. This means that when it comes to preparation, cooking and storage, you can relax and do what you like.

Since my (pretty-much chemical-free) garden is now at the beginning of its most productive period, I’ve already started preserving some of the bounty. I’ve made mint sauce, I’ve frozen some of the raspberries I’ve picked and I have some oregano hanging up to dry in the limery. There’s a small bowl of tomatoes in the fridge ready for conversion into passata, which I freeze if it’s only a small quantity or bottle if I have large amounts.

I love all the potential at this time of year. I know that by the end of summer I will be sick of courgettes, but now as I watch the first fruits swell, I can hardly wait for my first harvest. How about you? Is there something you love to grow and eat?


2017 Courgette #1

Leave a comment


  1. Laurie Graves

     /  June 27, 2017

    Mint sauce! What do you use it with?

  2. Nah, I am going to vicariously garden by reading your blog posts. Yum I can taste raspberries 🙂

  3. Annie

     /  June 27, 2017

    We’ve just eaten our first nectarine! It was very small, but there again the shrub is only a baby. Another first this year is a baby cucumber, fresh off the plant this morning. Tomatoes not ready yet, but the peppers in the Peach House are getting bigger. Happy days. 🙂

  4. Home grown mandarins and mangoes…. sorry, sorry. And last year for the first time I had a custard apple from my tiny tree. It was a tiny custard apple, but very delicious. The grasshoppers seem to leave fruit alone (unlike the rainbow lorikeets!), so I have a vague chance of getting some before the wildlife decimates my crops 🙂

  5. Fresh, home grown tomatoes remain my firm favourite – nothing like eating them still slightly warm from the sun ❤

  6. Tomatoes and raspberries, warm and fresh from the vine. Thanks for sharing your research on pesticides. That certainly makes sense. I try to buy organic and I certainly garden that way, too.

  7. Oh, green beans, yum!! of course, I love the squash as well and tomatoes, but fresh green beans and your own lettuce and arugula and two things it’s hard to beat from the garden. I’d grow raspberries if I had room…

  8. At the moment my main harvest are the tops of spring onions and the new garlic shoots. My cabbages are doing well, but a little way off harvesting. My other “crop” is autumn leaves for the compost and worm farm 😉

  9. Mange tout.. can’t beat just picked mange tout, especially if they’re funky colours like the yellow ones I grow! Ans redcurrants- impossible to buy, and I always think, being all red and shiny- they look like treasure.

    • I’ve got goth of those in the garden. For the first year in ages I’ve grown green rather than yellow mange tout… they are just ready to pick so I hope that they taste good.

  10. Some of my friends use Kangen water to rinse produce. Yes, they do taste different. You can soak your veggies, etc for 15 minutes in a vinegar/water mix. I wash my meat with vinegar as well. Blanching veggies before freezing gets rid of some bacteria too.


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