Apples and other fruits are treated with pesticides during the growth process to prevent insects from eating them. After they are picked and cleaned they are often covered in a layer of wax to make them more shiny and to protect them from drying out and preventing early rot.
The wax that is used to cover the apple can be carnauba wax, which is shaken from the harvested leaves of the carnauba palm. Or it can be shellac wax, which is a resin secreted by the lac beetle, an insect found in Asia, to protect its eggs. Lac production by this insect is similar to honey production by bees. It is mandatory for fruit to be washed before the wax is applied, so the fruit below should be clean and the waxes are safe to eat.
The peels and seeds (for the few of us who eat them) are the most vitamin-rich parts of the apple. So it is not recommend peeling the apples. A tablespoon of lemon juice and a tablespoon of baking soda can be added to a sinkful of water to make a good scrubbing solution. This can remove the wax and any pesticides which might be trapped underneath it. Use a soft vegetable brush to keep the fruit in one piece.
If you are worried about bacteria, Cook’s Illustrated showed that spraying the apple with a solution of three parts water and one part vinegar kills 98% of the bacteria on the apple. Rinse the apple after applying to solution to prevent vinegar tasting apples. Also the places that can trap the most dirt are the bottom and the stem, so cut these off and don’t eat them.
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