There was a time when fresh fruits and veggies were of little concern other than the odd piece of dirt you might have to push aside. Gone are the days of not having to worry if you had to clean fruits and veggies. Food-borne outbreaks that are related to fruits and vegetables are becoming quite common in the world of late and we would be fools not to pay attention. Cleaning fruits and vegetables isn’t just for the items on the dirty dozen list. Even when you buy the clean fifteen, you should be careful to wash everything before serving it to your family. Better safe than sorry!
With that said, here are some tips on how to clean fruits and vegetables and keep those dangerous illnesses at bay:
The first step is to wash your own hands. If you wash your produce without washing your own hands, you are kind of defeating the purpose. Clean hands are a must in the kitchen anyway. Use hot, soapy water both before you prepare produce and after.
Next you want to wash all the utensils, knives and cutting boards you are planning to use. Anything that you use to prepare your fruits and vegetables should be washed in hot water with soap.
It is important to repeat this process after each step so that you don’t transfer bacteria that was on the outside of the veggie or fruit to the inside when you chop. When in doubt, you should wash again. You can’t do too much of this.
When you are ready to clean your fruits and veggies, you need to use clean water and nothing else. Do not use detergents or soaps. If you have items that are thin surfaced like apples, you can wash them with a veggie brush. Items that are full of ridges and unusual nooks can be soaked in cold water most of the time. If items are too fragile for this, you can spray them with water in a bowl or pot. Once finished, you should pat the item dry with a paper towel.
Make sure the clean fruits and veggies are then placed directly onto a clean surface or into a clean pot. Cross contamination happens all the time with fruits and veggies being placed back onto dirty counters.
If you are buying your produce from the grocery store, washing it is imperative as well. Any raw veggies or fruit should be washed and rinsed thoroughly, no matter where it is bought.
Finally, be sure to use distilled water where possible. This is because the water has been cleared of contaminants and will be the most effective at leaving nothing behind. The whole idea is to get rid of contaminants, so why use water that has contaminants, right?
Do you clean fruits and veggies all the time? Or are you guilty of being lax sometimes?