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Can I Safely Clean and Eat Harvested Foods That Have Aphids on Them? 3 Best Solutions!

Can I Safely Clean and Eat Harvested Foods That Have Aphids on Them? 3 Best Solutions!

Nothing is quite as disturbing as finding that your veggies have developed an infestation of aphids and other insects that cling to all the roots and leaves.

I was utterly disappointed when this happened the first season I had my vegetable garden.

After all, I had put in so much effort to fertilize and water my veggies, and they had borne such lovely produce, only to have these tiny invading insects ruin it—or could I save my veggie crop?

Can I Safely Clean and Eat Harvested Foods That Have Aphids On Them?

While seeing aphids on your veggies isn’t appetizing, the aphids aren’t toxic or poisonous. These pests don’t affect the quality of the produce as long as the plant hasn’t begun to rot where the insects have fed. Simply wash veggies and herbs that have aphids on them until the aphids are removed. If there are sections of the vegetables or herbs that are damaged, you can cut these away while still eating the rest of the harvest.

Can I Safely Clean and Eat Harvested Foods That Have Aphids on Them?
Can I Safely Clean and Eat Harvested Foods That Have Aphids on Them?

What Are Aphids and Why Do They Infest Your Vegetables?

Aphids are small sap-sucking bugs that feed off plants.

They reproduce at a dramatic rate, and their feeding habits soon weaken plants, leading to wilting and eventually plant death.

Large-scale crop farmers spray insecticides to prevent aphids from breeding and feeding on their crops.

Crops like herbs, cucumbers, lettuce, spinach, and beetroot are easy targets for aphids.

Over time, aphids will lead to the plant becoming malformed, having holes in the vegetables, or stunted leaves in herbs.

Can You Eat Harvested Foods That Have Aphids on Them?

Aphids are fairly harmless insects.

While they are not welcome in your garden, they won’t poison you or the plants they feast on.

So you can eat food that has been fed on by aphids, though it’s best to remove the aphids unless you’d like an extra serving of bug-protein on the side.

Harvesting Foods That Have Aphids on Them

If you have been unlucky and your harvest is covered in aphids, you may worry if you should throw away all of your lovely veggies, herbs, and fruit.

Luckily, you can use these methods to rid your produce of aphids, and you will still be able to eat the now aphid-free produce.

Method One: Rinse in Cold Water

Once you have harvested your veggies and noticed they are covered in aphids, you can proceed to rinse them with cold water.

Use a soft-bristled brush to rid your produce of aphids as simply rinsing may not remove all of the aphids.

Unfortunately, aphids are tenacious bugs, and they cling onto the plants, making it difficult to rinse them off. In an extreme infestation, you may need to use method two or three.

Method Two: Soak in Cold Water and Salt

For this method, use a large bowl, place your produce inside, fill with cold water, and add about a quarter of a cup of salt.

Make sure the plants are submerged. Soak for about half an hour and then rinse with cold water to remove any salty residue.

The soaking method is particularly effective for plants that have florets such as cauliflower or asparagus, as the aphids love to burrow deep into flowery sections.

With the addition of salt, the aphids will become dislodged and should float to the top of the water.

Method Three: Salt and Vinegar Spray

If you are dealing with some particularly tenacious aphids that simply won’t let go, then it’s a good idea to try this great aphid-busting method.

Mix a cup of water in a spray bottle with half a cup of white vinegar and two tablespoons of salt. Spray the vegetables in a strainer over the kitchen sink.

Once you have sprayed the vegetables, wait five minutes, then run the cold water tap over the strainer, rinsing thoroughly. You should see aphids fleeing your crop for good.

Desperation Calls: Hydrogen Peroxide Solution

If all the above methods failed to rid your veggies of their buggy visitors, I discovered this drastic but effective method of getting rid of aphids.

Add some hydrogen peroxide at 3% strength to a spray bottle. Spray your vegetables and herbs in the colander over the kitchen sink.

Wait a few moments as the bubbles form, then rinse the vegetables in cold water for at least five minutes.

Your produce should be aphid free after using these methods. But the best by far is to stop aphids from attacking your crop to begin with.

Methods to Stop Aphids Attaching to Your Vegetables and Plants

While you can buy some effective pesticides, using a home remedy such as soap and water mix or neem oil in water is by far the best and safest way to stop aphids making their homes in your vegetable garden. 

Strong smells also repel aphids.

Soap-and-Water Mix

In a spray bottle, mix a cup of lukewarm water with a tablespoon of dishwashing detergent. Shake well, spray the plant stems, leaves, and also the ground around the plants in your veggie garden.

Neem Oil

You can also use neem oil in hot water to spray as a fine mist over your plants. Aphids detest the neem smell, and they will find elsewhere to feast.

Essential Oils Mix

To deter aphids in your herb garden or among your vegetables, you can also mix hot water and a couple of drops of peppermint essential oil and tea tree essential oil.

These will act as a good deterrent to keep aphids and other bugs away. Reapply as needed.

Frequently Asked Questions About Can I Safely Clean and Eat Harvested Foods That Have Aphids on Them

Are aphids safe to eat?

Aphids are quite safe to eat. They don’t produce any toxins, and apart from the chewy texture and the fact that eating a bug can be quite creepy, you can happily munch a few aphids with your vegetables without any side effects

Can you wash off aphids?

Aphids tend to cling onto the plants they eat with a sticky substance, which is why rinsing with vinegar solution and salted water is more effective than a simple water rinse.

How do you get rid of aphids permanently?

You can rinse your plants with a wash of water and dishwashing liquid or spray them with neem oil or essential oil solutions. These will keep aphids away from your plants without harming the plants.

Conclusion About Can I Safely Clean and Eat Harvested Foods That Have Aphids on Them

I managed to salvage my harvest of cucumbers and broccoli, but my tomatoes had really taken a beating by the aphids, so next season, I will be sure to prepare my garden with neem oil and companion plants that can deter aphids from harming my plants again.

Read everything you need to know about aphids on kale next.

Daniel Iseli (Head Chef)

Hi, my name is Daniel and I am passionate about cooking and have made it my mission to answer as many open questions related to cooking and food as possible. I am by no means a professional cook. But cooking is a hobby that I have loved for the past 20 years and I am getting better by the day.