Dallas Morning News - January 22, 2019
Fruits and Vegetables Cleaning
Even with organically grown produce (which I strongly recommend), it’s important to clean fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating. If produce has been grown “conventionally” we’re pretty sure it is covered with bad stuff. But - all food has been handled by people on the way to the store or farmers market – and people sometimes make mistakes.
Cleaning can dissolve common wax coatings, get rid of pesticide residues and reduce bacteria and other pathogens. There are several excellent produce cleaning products including Veggie Wash, BioSafe and Ecos Wash. Plus, you can make your own simple washes at home. Here’s some of my favorite choices.
Do it Yourself Washes
Vinegar is a natural disinfectant. Mix equal parts white vinegar or apple cider vinegar and water. Spritz onto hard or soft-skinned fruits and vegetables, rub in, rinse and dry. It is also effective to put in a bowl and soak the veggies and fruits for a couple minutes before rinsing and drying.
Lemon juice also works well. Fill a bowl or other container with clean water. Add a rounded tablespoon of salt and juice of ½ lemon. Soak the produce for a few minutes, then rinse and dry. Drying is always important, by the way.
Use 1 tablespoon of baking soda in a bowl per cup of water. Spray or soak produce and let sit for a few minutes before rinsing. You can also shake baking soda onto the surface of hard-skinned fruits or vegetables and rub in with a bit of water. Abrasion helps remove wax and other residue.
Hydrogen peroxide is one of the best choices and especially good for germs or disease pathogens. Use a 50/50 mixture of water and the 3% product right out of the bottle from the grocery store. Spray or soak the produce in the mix, rinse, dry and enjoy. Organic choices are better because they have cleaner preservatives but are hard to find.
Liquid non-toxic dish detergents used on hard-skinned produce, such as apples or carrots works fairly well. Be sure to rinse thoroughly and dry well.
Scrub with a brush
Clean water and good friction from scrubbing by hand or with a brush is effective in a pinch. For mushrooms just use clean water, but for all other fruits and vegetables any combination of the above techniques will work.
Finish the process with a clean cloth for drying and a clean knife and cutting board. Cut away any blemishes and rotten spots that could harbor bacteria and other bad stuff. Wash fruits and vegetables even if you don’t eat the rinds or peels and enjoy your clean food. The servers may not have read this column.
One final tip: when eating out, go ahead and squeeze some of the lemon or lime you’re offered into the drink, but instead of tossing the rind in the drink, discreetly place it on a napkin on the table.