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The right way to wash your fruits and veggies

Fri Jan 21

Fresh fruits and vegetables are a healthy way to incorporate vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants into your diet.

Before eating fruits and vegetables, it has long been a recommendation to rinse them well with water to remove any unwanted residues from their surfaces.

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.

Health and food safety experts, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC), strongly urge consumers to stick with plain water.

Using different substances may pose further health dangers, and they’re unnecessary to remove the most harmful residues from produce. Ingesting commercial cleaning chemicals 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.

The general methods to wash produce are as follows:

  • Firm produce. Fruits with firmer skins like apples, lemons, and pears, as well as root vegetables like potatoes, carrots, and turnips, can benefit from being brushed with a clean, soft bristle to better remove residues from their pores.
  • Leafy greens. Spinach, lettuce, Swiss chard, leeks, and cruciferous vegetables like Brussels sprouts and bok choy should have their outermost layer removed, then be submerged in a bowl of cool water, swished, drained, and rinsed with fresh water.
  • Delicate produce. Berries, mushrooms, and other types of produce that are more likely to fall apart can be cleaned with a steady stream of water and gentle friction using your fingers to remove grit.

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.