Bleaching Apples

OK, I know the idea of this will probably freak a lot of you out, especially our organic friends. But I recently tried an experiment and I’m absolutely thrilled at the results, but I’ve never heard of anyone else doing it. Perhaps I’m just unaware that it is “a thing”, but I haven’t read or seen anyone talk about it and I want to bring it up for discussion…or even criticism if you like.

So, for whatever reason, a lot of my apples get different kinds of spots on them and sometimes large areas of black soot. The kind of spots I’m referring to look like small mildew spots and/or like soot that covers much of the fruit, or sometimes like flyspecs. I found some time ago that if I took a course cloth like a towel and used soap and water and rubbed really hard, almost all of these type blemishes would come off. But that is a ton of work if you have many apples. So this year I tried something else.

Again, this is going to shock you and many of you may think its dangerous to ones health, etc. But hear me out… So, after a good deal of experimenting what I have ended up discovering is that if I take a 5 gallon bucket and fill it a little more than 1/3 with water, then add about 2 tablespoons of Dawn dishwashing liquid and about 3/4th cup of bleach, then I dump apples into the bleach water and let them sit about 10 minutes, it is shocking how perfect they look!

I suppose the fact that you can bleach the soot and mildew and flyspeck spots off with bleach water soaking shouldn’t be that shocking. What may be more surprising to you is that once you take the apples out and very thoroughly wash them in clean water (I even soak them in clean water for several minutes in addition to thoroughly hand rinsing them) there is absolutely no evidence at all that they have been “bleached” other than the clean appearance. No taste, no smell, no nothing. After all, apples are basically water proof so I don’t think the bleach water gets past the skin at all-otherwise there would be some residual taste or smell, at least for a few minutes after the soaking.

I’m sure a lot of you will be put off by this and to be clear I’m only saying I’ve tried it and it works, I’m not declaring it safe or recommending that you do it unless you decide for yourself that its ok. I can only tell you that I’ve done a few batches and never detect any taste, smell, texture, or other difference other than how shockingly clean the apples look. Even if you don’t want to eat a bleached apple, you might want to try a couple just to see how amazing the transformation is from a spotted, sooty apple to a store-bought quality appearance.

Open for discussion and criticism (really, its ok if you are critical of the idea). I also am not silly enough to think I’m the only one who ever thought of this, so if you’ve heard of it before I’d like to know that too. thanks

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@thecityman.

I have done the same but without the soap for apples that I put into long term storage.

I use a stronger bleach solution. I don’t measure. I do more like “healthty” splash. Probably half a cup in a half full 5 gal. bucket for 10-15 minutes.

I do this to avoid fungal & bacterial rots in storage.

Mike

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I’d agree with Mike -no soap is necessary.

Besides, the soap is harder to rinse off, whereas the bleach will dilute with no issues; anyhow wouldn’t any bleach residue break down pretty quickly?

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@marknmt

The bleach is just to kill any existing buggies that are on the fruit. It is not used as a preventative against new contamination. There is no residue as the chlorine volatizes(???) into the air.

I soak, then gently towel dry, then air dry for an hour or so (or until I finish doing the other thing I was doing) then into non “frost free” refridgeration storage with an ethelyn gas absorber.

Mike

Yup, my thinking exactly.

How does your ethelyn gas absorber work? What is it?

Bleach also removes the natural waxes on the Apples.
That’s not good. Especially if you want to have them store a while.
I think s warm rinse of plain water would be better.

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A orchard I worked at had a apple grading machine.
First step was , they ran through a roller brush machine .
Similar to the one in the video below. They were spayed with a sanitizer solution ( bleach ?)
A really ugly fly speck / sooty blotch covered apple would come out polished and clean of fly speck / sooty blotch .
It was quicker than this one ,a matter of the feed rate.

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Thanks very much to all who have commented here. Its kind of funny that I spent half of m.y original post trying to defend my little technique in terms of health concerns and no one seems to be worried about it…I absolutely wasn’t worried either because I, just like all of you, knew that bleach basically evaporates pretty quickly. Just leave some bleach in an open container for a few daysr and you’ll find it to be weakened or gone except for remaining water. But I was just sure that a lot of people would jump in to tell me I’d get cancer and kill my customers and how awful i was for using bleach on a food item. Glad I was wrong and hate that my OP was so long because I was defending attacks that never came.

@MES111 I think our strengths are almost exactly the same. I said I use 3/4 cup of bleach with 1/3 bucket of water and you use 1/2 cup in half a bucket, so if anything mine is stronger. But we are pretty close. Its amazing though…I can just watch my apples clearing up as they sit in my bleach mix.

I agree with everyone that the soap probably isn’t necessary, may leave residue, etc. I will probably stop that part after hearing the comments here.

After I posted this I read that the U.S. government (EPA) REQUIRES apples be washed in bleach (solution) for at least 2 minutes before being sold for consumption!!! REQUIRES it. Not that the EPA is perfect or always on cutting edge of food safety, but this might help those worried about health impacts of my own little bleaching process. Also proves what I already said I suspected- that I wasn’t the first person to use bleach on apples! ha (SOURCE: How to wash your apples, according to science — Quartz

It makes sense to me that sterilizing (to a degree) apples with bleach and killing microbes, germs, etc would extend storage life. I’m not sure about @Boizeau 's assertion that it shortens storage life by removing natural waxes? Could be, but my apples always shine and look waxy after bleaching and knowing how common bleaching is commercially, and hearing the experience of others here who find it extends storage life, I just don’t know. And while I appreciate your suggestion that rinsing in plain water is better, keep in mind that the whole reason I bleach mine is to get rid of sooty blotch, fly speck, mildew, and other surface discoloration. plain tap water won’t remove those things unless you vigorously scrub each apple for several minutes, which just isn’t practical for the bushels and bushels of apples I get. And I’ve seen several articles saying plain water is very ineffective at removing pesticide residue from apples (even though that isn’t my goal with bleach). For pesticide removal studies show that baking soda is the most effective thing! (more than water or bleach or other things)
source: An Easy Way to Remove Pesticides - Consumer Reports

interesting stuff though. Thanks all for commenting. This bleaching thing is a brand new discovery for me and I am just really excited to have found such a simple way to dramatically improve the appearance of my apples. The before and after is just shocking and people now days want to buy perfect looking fruit even if its actually somewhat unnatural looking and doesn’t change taste. So I’m thrilled to have discovered it, even if I did learn later that it is by no means an original idea! ha

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Hmm, seems like the moisture loss could possibly be an issue for your roadside apple sales. Depending on how long before purchase and consumption of course…

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I absolutely believe that to be true…I can tell just by looking that apples that sit there for a long time i.e. more than a week) tend to dry out some. Sometimes they even get wrinkly skin showing they are super dried out. SO I think you are right. However, the good news is that it is very rare that a bag of my apples stays on the stand more than a few days. That is because I usually only put out about 12 bags of apples total in case some really devoted thief decides to completely clean me out. So my stock gets good rotation for the most part. But you have a great point and I sure do wish that I could spray wax on my apples to improve shine and reduce moisture loss.

You probably just need to keep them well hydrated, after cleaning but before set out for sale. I put 6 apples into a grocery store plastic bag, slightly damp, and seal it up tight. Kept that way in the fridge we’re still eating (known well keeping varieties) through to early summer. Although a hobbyist wax spray would be interesting to test as well…

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Not saying what your doing is bad , but why so much bleach
have you tried a smaller amount I know for sanitizing stuff you just add a little

I wonder if Wine sulfite would work (potassium metabissulfite (K-meta for short)
can get free buckets from a Restaurant used for Pickles (distilled vinegar)
or Chinese places , but not the ones used for soap

I know rubber made 55 gallon garbage cans could be good

Get 2 one to fit inside the other for easy removal of apples (with holes in bottom)
Or wire Bottom
although the tight fit may be a problem.

I know the Mechanic places have those big rain barrels that are white
not sure what they hold , but I am sure when soaked , and used for a long time
the parts per million would not be much for just soaking apples for a short time.

I use Baking soda To soak buckets The Vinegar smell doesn’t go to the wine
, but I do find washing in a diswasher helps,
(probally not using plastic any more for wine)

but I got to thinking I wonder if baking soda would clean those apples
maybe some distilled Vinegar thrown in
I’d like to know If you end up trying (if so may not see it here you could PM Me.)

Thank you for the tip Didn’t think of that Bleach thing.
(note Wine yeast creates it’s own sulfites so worth a try as well –
(do not know if this is in free form or not just it’s a common thing mentioned making wine.)

Do you wrap the Apples in News paper to store in cellar
or that white gift paper (or oak leaves straw etc. in cellar )

I wonder if you soak apples with Water, and food coloring to see if it gets inside

Oh I didn’t see your baking soda post read every other posts
(down to the last short ones, and was in a hurry so skipped you longer one
(I edited my post, for the 55 gallon garbage cans on ward )

I wanted to add though I get Organic Apples , and the part that is affected is the Stem part
they get a Mold taste .

Now I am going to try this (writing this , and your post inspired me in a way)

Anyone doing that may want to spray a k meta solution in the stem, and see if it stops it.
Really one day A apple may taste fine , but the next a mold taste from the mildew in the stem
happens as I get these free in large amounts so pretty used to dealing with it for years.
(will have to try spraying K meta or Distilled vinegar/lemon even or baking soda / salt water.)

If any Improvements will have to share here.

As a home brewer, I wonder if an acid sanitizer like Starsan would do the same thing but be less harsh.

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When You wrote that First thought came to find Iodine
I looked Quickly but Guess it is not (is it?)

Now thinking for my free organic apples (commercial) tasted moldy
I know chamomile tea is a fungicide used for seeds
I should try iodine as well as I hAVE That

Wonder if that would work for my apples
Or maybe something like City man except not making apples clean,
but for killing spotty blotch for storing (or Iodine or starzan)

Interested in brewing I like IPA / stout (have some books) will look into that cleaner

I have heard with graphs that the apples that have gone through no spray have more anti oxidants , I wonder if spotty blotch is good for you, just I understand the customers wouldn’t want it mostly good to educate people /customers at first years ago I thought it was pollution from the environment .

I suppose if it is gone dormant or killed , but not washed away storing the apples may not spoil as much for yourself just may try this myself except my basement is not the best place to store them right now…

You have a lot of incredibly good ideas. Not only about the possible other things that might remove the spots on my apples- and you have great ideas there to- but I was especially impressed with your idea of using a 55 gallon rubber trash can (a new, clean one of course) and putting another one inside it with holes so I could pull it out with the apples and leave the cleaning solution behind in the other can. That is just a brilliant idea that I will almost certainly use!!! I also want you to know that I’m already using one of your suggestions…I do my soaking in former pickle buckets! But 5 gallon buckets just aren’t big enough, so I am definitely stealing the 2 trash can idea!!!

I also love your idea of testing with food coloring to see if anything soaks into the apples. Because I’ve been so hyper aware about using bleach and have many times cut up and smelled and tasted apples after the bleach soak and never detected a trace (after rinsing them) I bet anything the food coloring test would show nothing gets past the skin…but it WOULD be a great experiment.

I hope you noticed all my warnings and disclaimers saying the bleach soak is just my own unproven (unproven for safety I mean) technique and I’m not promising it to be safe or telling anyone to do it without doing their own research and tests and so on. And I am not crazy about using such a harsh thing as bleach on something I eat. But as I said, it seems to rinse away and oxidize and I’ve found no trace at all, and it does turn out that the FDA requires the use of bleach on commercial apples and its very common. Now we all know that government safety standards can be suspect, but still, it makes me feel better.

Oh, you asked if I’d tried using less bleach and I absolutely have. You can get by with slightly less, but the weaker the solution the longer the apples have to soak. And at a certain level of weakness (around 60% of my above describe strength) it won’t work at all. I have experimented a lot with the amounts.

I like I lot of your other ideas and thoughts tho I won’t respond to them all now. thanks

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Thank you for asking I guess sometimes I have better idea’s for others then do myself
, but when I see other peoples idea’s that helps me be creative, and learn of solutions for my own problems.

Like would of never thought about using sufites for my organic apple problem on the stem so you actually did me a favor in a way.

I did actually have a lot of idea’s at once , but should of waited to respond as messed up some things at home oops that would of took 5 minutes.

By the way I see home depot has 40 gallon normal round cans for 60 bucks to
they also have 44 gallons but not round square for about the same.

if those can fit inside each other but not seal tightly
then the air vacuum seal may not be a problem
I have many rubber maid storage containers outside that flood like that
maybe that’s how I thought of it (I grow pawpaw seed in them flood, and pick out roots so much easier with chicken wire (wire mesh) on the bottom
faster this way then picking out 500 roots by hand .)

they have those big 65 gallon roll garbage cans as well,
but not sure how that might fit heavy to lift what your pulling out
unless on a stepping stool or loading dock or a deck of some kind hovering above.
wouldn’t know what would fit inside of it with that kind of shape. –
maybe a square 44 gallon garbage can that is rubber maid …

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Oh prefer Aquariums thought that was a private message, (being general)
but When I do have a over stock of seeds I have used those rubber maid containers
(covered in new Cellophane wrap found in a ware house garbage can not being used)

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This is the stuff I use as a ethelyn gas absorber.
It is easy to find online. If you can’t find it let me know and I will look up where I got it.

See below

Mike

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When traveling in Mexico years ago we were advised to soak all fruits and vegetables in bleach water. I don’t recall the strength. I don’t think we used that much bleach. (We also got sick several times.)
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