There are few things more satisfying than having a fridge filled with fresh fruits and vegetables. Just looking at the gorgeous colors makes you feel good, and lets you know you are doing the right thing for your family’s health. But even if you are buying organic, it is very important that you wash every bit of produce you bring into your house.
The whole idea of buying organic is to avoid pesticides, and in most cases that is accomplished – but not always. It’s possible for some chemicals to get into fruits and veggies from neighboring farms. Even if you’re growing your own food, it may be impacted by things that enter the local water table. Not to mention local animals or pets that might make their way into your garden.
Even if you feel sure that your produce has no trace of pesticides, it’s important to remember that your produce is only as clean as the hands and health of every person who has touched it, or every truck, bin, or grocery counter it’s come in contact with before you bought it. The best way to protect yourself and your family from viruses, germs, and bacteria is to wash everything. We’re here to make sure you know how.
How to Wash
Myth-buster alert: you do not need a fancy produce wash to get your goodies clean. Produce washes are often expensive, and always unnecessary. Studies have found that a good rinse or soak with tap water will take away 80% of bacteria, and that adding vinegar ups that number to 98%.
When to Wash
It’s tempting to wash things as soon as they enter your kitchen, but experts say that washing should be done as close as possible to cooking or eating the food. There are a few reasons for this, but most important is that any moisture on your food will speed up the growth of mold or the breakdown of the food’s cells.
Editors Note: This post was created before the pandemic, in light of media stories such as this one, you probably want to wash your produce as soon as you bring it home, and then, disinfect your own hands.
The Right Way to Wash
Is there a “right” way to wash your fruits and veggies? You bet! Here’s the rundown:
- Remember to wash your hands before washing your food
- If you’re going to rest produce in the sink, wash the sink first
- Use warm water instead of cold to rinse everything but berries
- When washing berries or other fragile items, a soak is better than a rinse. Add vinegar or lemon juice in a 3:1 water-to-acid ratio if you want extra cleaning power. Soaks don’t need to be more than 5 minutes to work. Salt will work too.
- Dry everything well after rinsing or soaking
- Produce with thick skins should be scrubbed with a brush, which also needs to be cleaned regularly
- Produce with wax coating can be washed with water and a shake of baking soda
- Melons and other foods that are peeled (or that get cut) should be washed before cutting. Otherwise, your knife or hands carry bacteria inside to the flesh.
- Mushrooms can be soaked just like berries, but don’t let them sit in the water too long or they will absorb the water.
- Don’t use soap or dishwashing liquid on produce. They are not meant to be consumed.
With just a few simple steps, you can be sure the produce you feed yourself and your family is pesticide and bacteria-free — just the way nature intended.
Leave a comment below with your top takeaway and please share this important information with your fruits and veggies-loving friends.
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