If there’s any foolproof way to make fruits and vegetables unappetizing, it would be the presence of fruit flies. These little critters can certainly make you think twice about eating or cooking the produce, even if you just bought it from the store or spent a lot because it’s exotic and organic. TIME magazine reporter Markham Heid sought to explain how fruit flies take over fruits and vegetables.
Fruit fly moms lay their eggs on everything, from just-starting-to-ripen fruit—like the kind you recently brought home from the market—to the small bits of old produce rotting in your kitchen garbage can, according to the University of Michigan. That’s gross. Fortunately, if your fruit isn’t overripe or rotting, the fruit fly larvae and their proud parents haven’t yet burrowed their way deep inside your apples or pears, explains Dr. Gregory Courtney, an entomologist at Iowa State University. They’re just hanging out around the surface of your produce, waiting for the juices inside to start fermenting. (If the risk of pesticides or dirt never inspired you to wash your fruit, maybe the possible presence of fruit fly eggs will do the trick: washing produce rinses away the eggs before they’ve hatched, as long as the fruit is ripe and fresh.)
If you want to rid your produce of fruit fly eggs, you might be wondering how to wash fruits and vegetables effectively. The conventional way of doing it is simply giving it a rinse on the sink, but will water from the tap really be enough?