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Not too long ago I read a study saying that mixing baking soda and water and cleaning your fruits in this solution removed upwards of 90% of the pesticides from them. I was wondering if something like this would work when cleaning herbs.

Would it be safe to soak herbs with this same technique used for fruits to remove pesticides? I heard herbs are some of the most tainted with pesticides. Thanks!

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Fruits are fairly easy to clean things off of, because they tend to have thick rinds and/or hard exteriors (apples, oranges, bananas, etc.); so pesticides sit on top, and we just have to wash them off. Baking soda and water will do that to some extent (plus rubbing, which is quite important!).

Greens, though, don't have that kind of exterior. Pesticides on the surface can be cleaned off, and should be, but to a large extent they're already inside the green. Soaking them might remove some of the pesticides, but odds are you'll remove a lot of the flavor if you soak them long enough to help; and remember, pesticides are typically intended to not wash off too easily (or they'd be gone the next time it rained!).

That said, cilantro (and other herbs) are relatively low risk for pesticides, particularly if they're US-grown. Consumer Reports rates them "Low" (Mexico) and "Very Low" (US) risk; I suspect it's not because Cilantro doesn't have pesticides (it does - search 'Cilantro Pesticide' and you'll find a lot), but because you just don't use that much of it in your food. Much more concerning would be lettuce, broccoli, etc. - things you eat in large quantities - because you'll have a lot more of the pesticide along with it.

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One of the easiest methods (for washing produce) is to fill a clean sink a clorox water wash (~1tsp clorox per gallon of water). As for leafy items (like Cilantro and leaf lettuce), swishing it around in the water wash should be sufficient to rinse any sand or silt while exposing those produce items to the sanitizing agent.

This method is economical (bleach is relatively inexpensive) and approved by my local health department. Btw, if you ever find yourself without hot water to wash your dishes, this would be the way to rinse any residual soap off of them.

University of Mass Agricultural Extension
Traditional Cooking School's Handy Guide for Washing Produce

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    that's utterly beside the point, as sand and silt are very different from pesticides, and bleach doesn't even begin to address those – user57361 Jan 17 at 1:02
  • @GeorgeM Do you mean to suggest that a solution of bleach and water will not clean pesticides and bacteria from produce? – elbrant Jan 17 at 2:35
  • I'm not suggesting it, I'm saying it. Bleach will kill many micro-organisms, yes. But pesticides are not alive, and most of them are oil-based, so detergent is your only hope of washing some of them off. You're confusing different issues – user57361 Jan 17 at 18:30
  • @GeorgeM "Because I said so" isn't a qualified rebuttal. Cite your source. – elbrant Jan 18 at 0:55

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