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How to Wash Produce and Why

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Try these tips for cleaning with water first
1. Before you wash or soak your food, wash your hands with antibacterial soap. You don’t want the soap to actually touch your food (that’s a bad idea), but your hands carry loads of bacteria that can easily transfer to your food.

2. Don’t use any soap, detergent, bleach, or other toxic chemicals to clean your food. They will leave a residue of their own on the surface.

3. Consider cleaning your fruits and veggies with distilled water or a diluted vinegar solution of one part vinegar and three parts water. Keep it in a spray bottle for convenience. If you’re just using the water from your kitchen faucet to clean produce, let it run for a few minutes beforehand and always use cold water.

Different Strokes for Different ‘Chokes
Because fruits and vegetables aren’t all alike, each type demands a different method of cleaning.

Fruits with stems (apples, pears, peaches): Since bacteria and dirt are usually trapped at the blossom and stem ends of fruit, it’s best to cut off both ends after rinsing.

Fruits with rinds (oranges, avocados): Even though you’re not going to eat the rind, wash the skin and rub it gently with a brush. Again, bacteria gets stuck in the crevices and can transfer to your (hopefully) clean hands, or maybe to the knife you’re using to cut, which then transfers to the edible parts of the fruit.

Berries: Wash thoroughly with cold water in a colander.

Leafy greens: These should get a two-minute cold-water soak, followed by a drain in a colander. Repeat if necessary. Even if the packaging claims that your greens are prewashed, play it safe and wash them again. For whole heads of lettuce, remove the outer layer first before soaking.

Root vegetables (potatoes, carrots): Soak these for a couple of minutes, too. Even if you’re going to peel off the skin, brush it under running water before peeling. It may be possible that the knife or peeler you’re using can transfer bacteria to the edible parts.

Vegetables with lots of crevices (broccoli, cauliflower): Soak for two minutes before cutting, then rinse in a colander.

Vegetables with a thick skin (squash, zucchini): Brush skin under running water and rinse again before cutting.

Mushrooms (even fancy ones, like chanterelles): Despite the invention of the mushroom brush, mushrooms should still get a quick cold-water rinse, followed by a pat-down dry with paper towels. Clean out the gills in the cap with a fork and remove the stems.

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Read more: Basics, Diet & Nutrition, Food, General Health, Green Kitchen Tips, , , ,

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134 comments

+ add your own
8:13PM PDT on Sep 24, 2012

good info thanks

1:25PM PDT on Jun 1, 2012

I recently realized you have to wash everything, even kiwis cuz when you peel them, the germs get inside..

washing whole heads of lettuce and cabbage is a pita..

washing an onion?

10:06AM PDT on Apr 11, 2012

Thanks!

2:52AM PDT on Oct 11, 2011

Thank you.

11:44AM PDT on Oct 7, 2011

The fact that she recommends washing your hands with antibacterial soap before cleaning your veggies negates anything she says.

11:01AM PDT on Oct 7, 2011

I always add vinegar to the water I wash my vegetables in and then give one or two more rinses in clear water, If some veggies have a lot of bugs, I use salt instead and the bugs will float free.

5:02AM PDT on May 28, 2011

Thanks for sharing the great info.

2:50PM PDT on May 3, 2011

Thanks. Very good information.

12:37PM PDT on Apr 6, 2011

Thanks for the information Mel. I wondered also about the antibacterial soap, as I have read it will damage fish. Also I have found with mushrooms that they get rubbery if water is used?

11:44AM PDT on Sep 7, 2010

Some interesting information there, thank you.
eg, I thought water would spoil the mushrooms.
Also some interesting comments :)

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