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You’ve Been Washing Your Produce All Wrong

Before you bite into that scrumptious apple, pear or tomato, make sure it's clean and free of residue. Washing produce correctly is easy to do, and it will go on a long way toward helping you and your family stay healthy.

Why it's Important to Wash Your Produce Correctly

All produce has some residual dirt on it, even if you can't see it. Even organic produce can be contaminated by the people who package and transport it. If your produce comes from a large, commercial farm, it likely contains high levels of pesticide. The Environmental Working Group identified a “dirty dozen” of the produce types that are most likely to contain pesticides. Strawberries, spinach, kale, nectarines and apples top that list.

Produce can be contaminated by:

  • Soil
  • Pesticides
  • Bacteria
  • Store environments
  • Plastic packaging

Are You Safe with Organic Produce?

Organic produce won't have pesticide rescue, but it could still contain microbes and unsafe levels of dirt.

Wait to Wash

Most food safety experts agree that you should wait to wash your produce until you're ready to cook or eat it. Damp produce attracts germs and spoils quickly. If you wash it and leave it in the refrigerator or on the counter, it will start to spoil before you eat it.

Rub and Scrub

When you wash your fruit and vegetables, rub them gently to work the water through. For produce with thick rinds, like cantaloupes or potatoes, use a vegetable brush to scrub away dirt.

What About Produce Washes?

Most food safety experts say produce washes offer little benefit. According to the Food and Drug Administration, they may do more harm than good. Plain, cold water is the best cleaner for all your fruits and veggies.

Studies have found that plain water removes most pesticide residue. If you want to be extra careful with your produce, you can add vinegar or baking soda.

Summing it Up

  • Don't wash produce until you're ready to use it
  • Wash your hands before you clean fruits and vegetables
  • Use cold, clean water
  • Use a vegetable brush on fruits and vegetables with a thick rind
  • Dry the produce gently with a paper towel

Special Handling

Tomatoes: Don't store tomatoes in the refrigerator. Cold temperatures can kill their flavor. Store them on a counter until you're ready to wash and use them.

Strawberries: Strawberries go bad quickly. To keep them as fresh as possible, line a shallow container with paper towels and lay the fresh, unwashed strawberries on top of the paper towels. Keep the strawberries in the refrigerator until you're ready to use them. If you can't use them in two to three days, you're better off freezing them.

Mushrooms: Better Homes & Gardens recommends using a damp paper towel to wipe each mushroom clean. If you're pressed for time, you can rinse them lightly in a colander. Be sure to wipe them dry immediately.

Lettuce and salad greens: If you're washing leafy lettuces like iceberg, romaine and butterhead, twist the core out by hand rather than using a knife. Wash the whole head by holding it upside down under a running tap. If you have mesclun, spinach or other loose greens, rinse them quickly in a colander.

Stay Safe and Healthy

Don't let germs and pesticides ruin your enjoyment of tasty, good-for-you fruits and vegetables. Follow these simple tips to keep your family healthy.

Of course, you can’t wash produce without a functioning faucet. To make the task convenient, we recommend a pullout kitchen sink faucet. For all of your plumbing needs, contact Parzival Plumbing at (949) 234-6001.