Eating fresh produce is one of the best things you can do for your body. However, you need to know that it is not “ready to eat” straight from the super market. They need to be washed first. In fact, the FDA says that all fruits and vegetables, including those that are organically grown, could benefit from a thorough washing to remove soil, surface microbes, and some pesticides. This should be something we all get in the routine of doing. However, if you have children or a weak immune system, you cannot skip this step.
I always thought that fruits were pretty clean when I brought them home. I would always rinse off my grapes because they had a kind of film on them. But, I never really realized how much everything needs to be washed until I started learning more about the bacteria, pesticides, and even dirt that were on them and how those could make us sick. Many people are not accustomed to washing melons, but salmonella on the rind of a melon can be transferred to the knife and contaminate the flesh of the melon if you don’t wash it.
I was using dill and parsley in a recipe yesterday and from my little bunch of herbs my water looked like this..
There was lots of dirt and other particles flouting around. I have also seen little black bugs on the leaves before.
What needs to be washed?
Any produce that is not bagged and says “washed”. Even then I sometimes do. If there’s a chance that someone else touched it with bare hands before you bought it, wash it. Even if you’re going to cook it, wash it. Produce isn’t always cooked at high enough temperatures to get rid of the germs, so always wash. Melons, herbs, berries, lettuce, all of it.
How should I wash it?
You should always start by washing your hands. If it is a hard fruit like a melon, orange, or potato, wash it under running water with a scrub brush. Things get caught in the grooves on things like that and when you cut into them, they get on your food. Your hands and running cold water are two things that you must have for this. A brush is helpful too.
Lettuces, celery, and other leafy or stalk produce should be separated prior to washing, because dirt and germs may be inside the folds and root ends.
Do I need a vegetable soap?
There is debate back and forth as to if the wash products actually make a significant difference. Some are better than others. I think it helps to remove germs, soil, wax, and pesticides. I like to get it and in a big bowl make a wash that everything goes in and out of. An important thing to remember when using a wash is to rinse it all off. Any soap left on your produce can make you sick.
When should I wash them?
This is up to you. You can wash them right away an put it into the fridge clean, but it can cause faster spoilage to some food like strawberries (and other berries), lettuces, and mushrooms. You can also wait and wash as you need them. It is very important to remember to do this though!
I hope you enjoy your clean yummy produce 🙂