1

votes

Best way to remove bugs and their eggs from produce?

Answered on October 10, 2014
Created August 24, 2012 at 1:48 PM

At the risk of sounding like a big baby, here goes...

I love kale and I know it's really good for you, but I get irrationally stressed over cleaning it, since at least a few leaves are usually covered with aphids. I'm tired of spending so much time looking in every little fold and crevice, and it seems stupid that I get so twitchy just because of some bugs on my food. Have any of you found a faster method for removing the little buggers, than going leaf-by-leaf and picking them off?

My mom once suggested soaking in soapy water, but that didn't work for me. I've also tried just blasting them with the faucet, which doesn't work either, and right now I have a leaf soaking in salt water...still waiting to see the results of that one.

I keep trying to tell myself, "They're just extra protein!", but not working :)

Any input is really, really appreciated!

69865aff0707f13d7908400e9bf33f56

on October 09, 2014
at 11:49 PM

BEST WAY IS, SOUND CRAZY IT WORK!  PUT IN  cloth WA SHER machine and vinegar in it, wash in hot water, all the bugs come out, making sure do it second time,  I have try wash with salt, vinegar over and over warm hot water even boiling the water don't work. Cloths washer machine work the best.. 

E17fe88b98575c183241fba50ae42b93

(398)

on August 26, 2012
at 08:47 PM

I had some particularly badly infested collards from the grocery store a while back and it scarred me. I'll revisit and go organic this time. Thanks!

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19413)

on August 25, 2012
at 01:28 PM

Humans still produce the enzymes needed to digest insects. Gross, but just saying... :)

E17fe88b98575c183241fba50ae42b93

(398)

on August 24, 2012
at 09:43 PM

I bought some particularly bad broccoli, where the aphids had made their way inbetween the individual buds of the florets and it was impossible to get them out. No way to unsee that...I've been a tad OCD about it ever since.

De267f213b375efca5da07890e5efc25

(3747)

on August 24, 2012
at 09:27 PM

I was blissfully ignorant until now... :(

E17fe88b98575c183241fba50ae42b93

(398)

on August 24, 2012
at 07:48 PM

I had high hopes, because the organic market by my house has some really beautiful, clean produce. It was a real mind-fk to think a leaf was clean, then flip it over and see a little cluster of 8 little buggers under where one of my fingers was. I think I actually yelped and tossed it in the air. Not one of my proudest moments.

E17fe88b98575c183241fba50ae42b93

(398)

on August 24, 2012
at 04:51 PM

Labor of love is right...I bought the most beautiful purple kale from the market yesterday, and couldn't bear to waste any. Normally I'd get stressed and give up about half way through and throw the more "populated" bits away, but this time I scraped the aphids off with a kabob skewer. Small victories! I'll definitely have to sub broccoli rabe once in a while. I love the stuff! Thanks Jackie.

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14 Answers

4
3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on August 24, 2012
at 02:11 PM

So I won't say just eat it -- but that's what I would do.

Soak in water and vinegar, that will kill off any of the remaining eggs and any bacteria (although it's mostly good bacteria), might not completely remove them, but that ensures that you won't be eating anything other than some shells.

2
6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on August 25, 2012
at 07:30 AM

I've just come to the conclusion that it is a pay or play dichotomy. If you don't want to eat bug bits you have to do the work, or pay someone else to, and buy the pre-bagged washed or frozen stuff.

I have a few methods. One if there aren't too many buggers, is just to take a damp paper towel and quickly wipe down the backside of each leaf and then rinse briefly.

The other like CD said, is to soak those leaves in water with vinegar for a while and agitate every few minutes. It gets the grit off too, which will sink to the bottom. I use my salad spinner to make changing the water easier, and do at least two washes. Then you lay them out on a dish or paper towel, flip them over and remove any remaining critter bits with your fingernail, q-tip, or paper towel.

2
363d0a0277a8b61ada3a24ab3ad85d5a

(4642)

on August 24, 2012
at 03:55 PM

I love kale too, and it can be such a pain to clean, but I tend to wash each leaf individually under running water and set them aside in colander to dry and then remove the spine and chop.. it's a labor of love. I tend to go for broccoli raab now instead since it seems to scratch the same itch as kale for me, and is a much easier clean, boil it for a few minutes in salted water, drain and then saute. It is much faster and easy with higher reward for efforts, and the leaves are just amazing and remind me of kale, a nice bite, some bitterness, and amazing with garlic and butter!

E17fe88b98575c183241fba50ae42b93

(398)

on August 24, 2012
at 04:51 PM

Labor of love is right...I bought the most beautiful purple kale from the market yesterday, and couldn't bear to waste any. Normally I'd get stressed and give up about half way through and throw the more "populated" bits away, but this time I scraped the aphids off with a kabob skewer. Small victories! I'll definitely have to sub broccoli rabe once in a while. I love the stuff! Thanks Jackie.

1
0ac5617c711cfa840b99c6eed449a4f6

on July 17, 2013
at 01:57 AM

Tonight I noticed fat, round, brown bugs of some kind (all dead it seemed) in the kale, and I never noticed this before. Granted, I've only bought kale once before, and it's not organic.

Are these things aphids? I am unfortunately familiar with the usual variety- small, white, all over my basil and tomatoes. The kale bugs were similar to lentils. Truly scary stuff!!

Anyway, dunked the kale in a big bowl of water, poured out bugs and water, repeated two or three times. Then rinsed each leaf individually. Took quite a bit of time, but people rave about kale pesto, and I was determined!

1
2006ccb2b60f9cc5ba5e8eff8a7abc46

on May 24, 2013
at 04:11 AM

eat them! they get really bad on the farms I have worked at in the southwest during the winter, when aphids sense cold they reproduce like mad! they would be so thick you could scoop em off and the farm kitties would hang around to lick them off my fingers.

1
Fb3ad97938404c97bdef00fa9b5cfcf4

on May 24, 2013
at 02:01 AM

Well here's what I did BEFORE I read the answers on this blog. My nephew grew this kale and gave it to me. He showed me the aphids and suggested I try to brush them off as well as rinse. So I had the perfect tool. a mushroom brush which is delicate enough to not tear the leaves yet strong enough to shoo the aphids off with the help of cold water. My water pressure just doesn't seem strong enough to rinse the bugs off! They hold on tight and are still there. But with the mushroom brush they were easily persuaded to swim down the drain. Yes, this is painstaking as I had to wash each leaf individually, both sides. But worth it. THEN, I instinctively placed all the leaves in a large stainless mixing bowl (VERY large bowl). I poured about 1 to 2 tablespoons of BRAGGS Apple Cider Vinegar and agitated the mix and left it to soak for an hour. I certainly DO NOT want to soak my greens in tepid water nor do I wish to put Hydrogen Peroxide on the vegetables. Seems to defeat the purpose of eating organically. Well. I'm happy with this method. i use balsamic vinegar in my dressing anyway so the BRAGG vinegar will not harm according to my liking. One lastword on this topic overall. That is somethng I remember from a friend. She was trying to sell me on the idea of certain LIVE water that is ionized or energized in some way. I forgot the name of the process but the devotees claim many astounding health properties from using this type of water for drinking and for rinsing. Some of you probably already know (more than me) what I'm talking about. P.S. the Mushroom Brush can be gotten at a good culinary shop like Williams-Sonoma or the like. Best regards to all you conscious folks!

1
Be9d904bc1802a9ec5ac908df58fc3fe

on October 26, 2012
at 05:43 PM

I soaked mine in tepid water and a generous dose of hydrogen peroxide for 20 minutes or so, agitating them once or twice. All the little critters came off, floating in the water and concentrating at the edge of the sink, it was disgusting, there must have been a thousand of them. I rinsed the greens in the other sink, as I usually would, to get any that may have stuck to the leaves due to the soak water being so dense with them. After inspection, I found only a stray one or two that were stuck only by water as they were completely waterlogged and unable to function. I am a raw food juicier and wonder if we miss one here or there and consume it uncooked is there a risk of the insect carrying a pathogen, I.e.:parasite,virus,bacteria,fungus, that could infect us?

1
E791387b2829c660292308092dc3ca9b

(831)

on August 24, 2012
at 04:12 PM

Let them soak for about 20 minutes in warm water. Any bugs will drown and then float to the top of the water. Rinse individual leaves if you have a lot of small bugs like aphids. That's what we did with ours to prep for the Farmer's Market. Now I try to buy from people who make the effort to give me clean vegetables.

E17fe88b98575c183241fba50ae42b93

(398)

on August 24, 2012
at 07:48 PM

I had high hopes, because the organic market by my house has some really beautiful, clean produce. It was a real mind-fk to think a leaf was clean, then flip it over and see a little cluster of 8 little buggers under where one of my fingers was. I think I actually yelped and tossed it in the air. Not one of my proudest moments.

0
00cd3b6f51530a6832fcda1712edbec3

(2411)

on October 10, 2014
at 01:24 AM

I tend to buy my organic kale at the grocery store. Problem solved.

0
2526f6fdea9f4855f2147a60772156b2

on August 16, 2013
at 07:14 PM

I cut Kale, as well as Collards, off of the stems. Soak them a few times in water outside and then repeat the process inside a sink and soak them in salt a couple of times. Finally, I soak them in plain cold water. That does the trick.

0
D38be102b7a3a5132d62f22454b41c70

on August 07, 2013
at 10:28 PM

The kale from my garden is full of little critters. A good soaking in sea salt (1 tbsp) and water, appr 5 minutes, then I rinse each leaf under running water. I soak them again in water and vinegar for a few minutes and rinse again in a sink full of water a few more times. Water seems perfectly clear by this time. Lots of work but such a healthy vegetable. I do this for all the leafy vegetables in my garden but kale is the most labor intensive of all.

0
618fc5298c4a96b817c4918c795a875f

(1217)

on May 24, 2013
at 02:20 PM

I grow most of my produce and I do what @CD does - a vinegar soak. Chopping the leaves into strips between rinsing and soaking helps ALOT - First I spray off the leaves with a hose when I'm still out in the garden, again when I get them to the sink, Chop the leaves into the size I need, a 5 min soak in a mild vinegar solution, then another good rinse. Seeing aphids on your produce is a sign that your food is being grown in an organic way free of pesticides! I used to freak out too- try growing your own and see if that helps. It did for me! Somehow being a part of the cycle calmed me down and I became less grossed out about the buggy realities of natural, wholesome food

While ladybugs are wonderful and help somewhat, they are not a cure for aphids. You actually need a bigger balance of aphids to ladybugs in your garden for them to stay, feed, and lay eggs for another generation of aphid eaters.

0
37cc142fbb183f2758ef723a192e7a9d

(1353)

on May 24, 2013
at 01:35 PM

Our CSA introduced a population of commercial ladybugs and it took care of the aphid problem. In his case it was in response to damage to his crop, whereas it sounds like your producer doesn't mind them in which case you may just have to live with them.

0
5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on August 25, 2012
at 08:20 PM

If you can get them in your area, switch to collard greens. They have lovely large, thick and SMOOTH leaves that are very easy to clean and even tastier than kale.


My standard cleaning method for greens is to completely immerse them in a sink or large bowlful of water and swish them around. Do that 3 times, changing water in between, with the first immersion in salty water to drive out the critters.

E17fe88b98575c183241fba50ae42b93

(398)

on August 26, 2012
at 08:47 PM

I had some particularly badly infested collards from the grocery store a while back and it scarred me. I'll revisit and go organic this time. Thanks!

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