Vegetables and fruit should be washed thoroughly when being prepared. I am amazed that many people do not properly clean vegetables before serving. This is particularly apparent with veg that look clean, such as tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. These however, have been handled, sometimes shipped from the other side of the world, and usually have been treated with pesticides and other chemicals. When vegetables are organic, they still need careful cleaning to remove grit, soil, and potential bacteria from handling.
It is good practice to know how best to clean fresh produce in order to avoid bacteria and reduce pesticide residue. This article by Lauren Panoff at Healthline Nutrition covers some good basics.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are a healthy way to incorporate vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants into your diet.
Before eating fresh fruits and vegetables, it has long been a recommendation to rinse them well with water to remove any unwanted residues from their surfaces.
However, given the COVID-19 pandemic, many headlines have been circulating that encourage more abrasive ways to wash fresh produce before eating it, making some people wonder whether water is enough.
This article reviews the best practices for washing various fresh fruits and vegetables before eating them, as well as methods that are not recommended.
Global pandemic or not, properly washing fresh fruits and vegetables is a good habit to practice to minimize the ingestion of potentially harmful residues and germs.
Fresh produce is handled by numerous people before you purchase it from the grocery store or the farmers market. It’s best to assume that not every hand that has touched fresh produce has been clean.
With all of the people constantly bustling through these environments, it’s also safe to assume that much of the fresh produce you purchase has been coughed on, sneezed on, and breathed on as well.
Adequately washing fresh fruits and vegetables before you eat them can significantly reduce residues that may be left on them during their journey to your kitchen.
While rinsing fresh produce with water has long been the traditional method of preparing fruits and veggies before consumption, the current pandemic has many people wondering whether that’s enough to really clean them.
Some people have advocated the use of soap, vinegar, lemon juice, or even commercial cleaners like bleach as an added measure.
However, health and food safety experts, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC), strongly urge consumers not to take this advice and stick with plain water
Using such substances may pose further health dangers, and they’re unnecessary to remove the most harmful residues from produce. Ingesting commercial cleaning fluids like bleach can be lethal and should never be used to clean food.
Furthermore, substances like lemon juice, vinegar, and produce washes have not been shown to be any more effective at cleaning produce than plain water — and may even leave additional deposits on food.
While some research has suggested that using neutral electrolyzed water or a baking soda bath can be even more effective at removing certain substances, the consensus continues to be that cool tap water is sufficient in most cases.
Washing fresh fruits and vegetables in cool water before eating them is a good practice when it comes to health hygiene and food safety.
Note that fresh produce should not be washed until right before you’re ready to eat it. Washing fruits and vegetables before storing them may create an environment in which bacterial growth is more likely.
Before you begin washing fresh produce, wash your hands well with soap and water. Be sure that any utensils, sinks, and surfaces you’re using to prepare your produce are also thoroughly cleaned first.
Begin by cutting away any bruised or visibly rotten areas of fresh produce. If you’re handling a fruit or vegetable that’ll be peeled, such as an orange, wash it before peeling it to prevent any surface bacteria from entering the flesh.
The general methods to wash produce are as follows:
Once you have thoroughly rinsed your produce, dry it using a clean paper or cloth towel. More fragile produce can be laid out on the towel and gently patted or rolled around to dry them without damaging them.
Before consuming your fruits and veggies, follow the simple steps above to minimize the amount of germs and substances that may be on them.