A safe guide to washing your produceElla Nordell-Morris
It can be easy to skip washing your produce after a trip to the grocery store. Usually, people skip washing their fruits and vegetables because they think it takes too much time, is not necessary, or can involve expensive cleaning products. This is not the case! Here we outline why you may want to wash your produce and some amazing, safe, and simple ways that you can clean your fruits and vegetables.
Why you should wash your produce:
The produce that you buy at the grocery store has had a long journey before arriving at your home. It goes through transport, stocking, and a significant number of customers’ hands as they rifle through all the fruits and vegetables to find the best ones. All of these exchanges can introduce a number of harmful germs. Some of these can even include Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria. Because of this, the CDC estimates that the germs on produce cause a significant percentage of U.S. foodborne illnesses.
Some produce is coated with a wax that helps it to stay fresh, keep in moisture, and prevent mold growth. Though this wax provides benefits to the fruits and vegetables, it does not provide benefits to us. These wax coverings are not able to be fully digested by our bodies. Though our bodies are able to pass the wax without fully digesting it, the wax could harm those who have digestive issues or irritabilities. Because the wax is made to repel outside moisture, washing produce that is covered in wax will be ineffective. If you are worried about putting wax in your body, make sure to peel your wax-covered produce.
Spiders and insects
Spiders are essentially biological pest control. They keep our produce free of other pests who may want to eat it. Because of this, it is not impossible to find a spider in your produce every once in a while. Spiders and insects can be grapes, bananas, and a variety of other fruits and vegetables. So, if you don’t want to swallow a spider, consider using the following produce-cleaning tips!
How to wash your produce:
One effective way to wash your produce is to just use water. For firm-skin produce, use cold water and a soft-bristled brush to remove germs and residue from their pores. Leafy greens can be submerged in a bowl of cold water. Move the leafy greens around, then drain and rinse the greens with fresh water. For delicate produce, like blueberries or mushrooms, use a cold stream of water and your fingers to remove any residue.
It is important to note that you should not clean your produce with water until right before you are about to use/eat it. If you clean your produce beforehand, it may create an environment in which bacterial growth is more likely. Also, be sure to dry produce thoroughly after cleaning and before consuming to ensure that any remaining dirt or residue is wiped off.
Another effective way to wash your produce is with a vinegar and water mixture. You can keep a home-made cleaning blend by combining 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water. Use this mixture on smooth-skinned produce with a spray bottle. Examples of smooth-skinned produce are tomatoes, apples, and grapes. Spray the produce thoroughly, ensuring that you cover its whole exterior with the vinegar mixture. Let the produce rest for about 30 seconds, then rinse it under cold water while rubbing it to remove the vinegar taste. Make sure to not rub the produce too hard, this can cause the skin to puncture, exposing the food to contaminants.
For hard-skinned fruits and vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, leafy greens, and potatoes, soak the produce in the 1 to 3 vinegar-water mixture. This will help to kill germs, bacteria, and other residue. After about 1-2 minutes, remove the produce from the soak and scrub with a brush under cold water. For items with many layers, like lettuce and cabbage, you may have to separate individual leaves for a complete cleaning.
Though there can be alarming things on the produce we buy, it is nice to know that there are many simple and easy ways to thoroughly clean produce to stay safe and healthy. Check out our amazing produce section to have fruits and vegetables delivered right to your door so you can try these easy, produce-cleaning techniques for yourself!