There’s a misconception by some that vegetables and fruits that are about to be cooked don’t really need more than a quick rinse to wash off dirt before being added to the pot. The theory is that since it’s about to be cooked, any sort of bacteria or bug it may have will be killed in the heat.
Another misconception is that if we’ve grown the food ourselves in our backyard gardens, we know that we’re clean and we aren’t using dangerous pesticides or have rats scurrying about dropping feces. So some think, again, a quick rinse will do the trick.
This is such a dangerous way to handle food and couldn’t be farther from the truth. We *do* need to wash WELL every piece of fresh produce that we plan on consuming whether we’ve grown it or not.
The dangers range from Salmonella to E. coli infections to Listeria and even Hepatitis A…and more…some very serious foodborne bacterial illnesses.
It’s advised that those who are more vulnerable need to be extra careful: pregnant women, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems.
Why worry about what we’ve grown ourselves? Our gardens can be contaminated by the neighborhood cat, some unknown nasty in the soil or even from a bird flying over the yard and dropping infected seeds in our plots.
There’s just no good reason not to be careful, protect ourselves and those we are cooking for by properly washing fresh fruits and veggies.
Even if we’re only planning to eat the inside of the fruit (think avocado), we still need to wash the outer peel before cutting since dragging the knife through the fruit will drag whatever’s on the outside into the fleshy inside and contaminate it.
Here are the very minimum essentials:
–First wash hands well with soap and water
–Next rinse each item under running water and rub them all over with your fingers while washing thoroughly
If you want to be more diligent, here’s a helpful guide with some cleaning recipes.
Mix ingredients listed below then pour in clean spray bottle. Spritz on fresh produce generously. Sit for 5 minutes then rinse off well.
1 cup water
1 cup vinegar
2 TBS baking soda
2 TBS lemon juice
Note: Make sure to first combine ingredients in deep container since there will be some fizzing action.
There are also these tips and recipes to try:
*Ensure the sink is thoroughly cleaned or use a plastic dishpan just for this purpose
- Sprinkle items with baking soda then gently scrub. This method safely removes dirt and residue. Mentioned previously on this page .
- Vinegar/Water Spritz (50/50) works well.
Note: Rinse and allow to soak for a few minutes in clear water after treatment.
To Full Sinks (Water) Add…
- 4 TBS apple cider vinegar.
- Parasite buster: Add 1/2 teaspoon of chlorine bleach and soak items for 30 mins.
- 2 teaspoons of hydrogen peroxide (3%) per gallon of water and leave items for 20 mins.
- A few drops of your favorite liquid dish detergent (for handwashing dishes), leave items for a few minutes before scrubbing. Good residue remover.
- Arrange fruit and veggies first before filling. For every gallon (16 cups) of water used, add 4 drops of grapefruit seed extract and 2 TBS of salt.
- Produce Bath: Combine 1/2 cup vinegar and 3 TBS salt (stir until dissolved) then add to sink. Soak for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove, pat dry.
**Note: After treating allow to sit for at least 10 minutes in clear water.
Did You Know: You should wash the outsides of melons before cutting through them? If you don’t, the knife will drag the pesticides/dirt/bacteria from the outside rind into the melon as you cut. The outside rinds can carry some seriously nasty cooties. See Melons: Safe Handling Practices for Consumers  (pdf).