You love the crunch of apples; your tongue excites with delight as you chomp down on the crisp exterior of an apple and a sudden burst of flavour spills into your mouth. Apple skins are packed with a nutrients and free radical-fighting flavonoids, but they are also contaminated with pesticide residues and chemical wax – unsafe for humans if consumed in large amounts. The latter is now the regular practice of various commercial farms, where farmers dip fresh apples into chemical wax after harvest to preserve and protect them against rough transits from the orchard to the supermarket.
Although farmers are allowed to use a regulated quantity of wax on apples, we cannot be sure of the actual amount used to sustain those lustrous apple skins. Such substance may create an extra sparkle on the fruit to dazzle us all but chemical wax can cover and allow harmful pesticides to linger on the apple for a longer period of time. Furthermore, the chemical wax also poses a risk to human health as it is linked to a series of health issues, from digestive disorders to cancer. As food safety scandals and recalls become more common in recent times, are fresh apple skins really safe to eat?
We think an apple a day now may not keep the doctor away so apple skin fans, hear us out: bin the skins, eat the fruit and not the wax. We know you’ll rinse your delicious apple under water or give it a good rub on your sleeve before taking a bite but that may not be enough to get rid of the nasties. Well, here’s the peel deal if you’re not one for tossing out the apple skins: improve your fruit washing philosophy with a scrub brush and some commercial produce cleanser.
For an inexpensive option, you can create a natural and effective wash at home as well. Our favourite wax-removal technique is easy peasy lemon squeezy! Prepare a lemon bath for your apples: fill a large bowl (or sink) with lukewarm water, add one tablespoon of lemon juice and another tablespoon of baking soda. Swirl the mixture around and let your apples bob around the mixture for 10 minutes or so. Use a fruit or vegetable scrub to brush the exterior of the apples thereafter, then rinse well and pat dry with kitchen paper towels. You may substitute lemon juice with plain white vinegar too.
If all these sound too troublesome, choose unwaxed or organic apples that even the bugs love it. They are more likely to be chemical-free and it will reduce your exposure to injurious chemicals.
Of course, the ultimate decision (to eat apple skins or not) lies with you, but with the large amounts of chemicals we are exposed to everyday, every bit of chemical reduction counts. The extra effort to clean your apples well or to purchase organic apples will be greatly beneficial to your overall health.
Written by: Valerie Tan