Someone recently sent me a video about why it is very important to make sure you wash strawberries well. First thought, on seeing the creepy crawlers who spend their lives snuggled into the bumpy terrain of the fruit, particularly at the top and the bottom: Not another strawberry will ever touch my lips.
Okay, that’s nuts, I told myself. I’ve been eating strawberries (confession, on occasion straight from the carton) for decades, and I am here to tell the tale. But in this hyper-aware, wash-and-watch-what-you eat era I find my tendency to scrub – rather than rinse or do nothing – on the rise. I even own a veggie brush.
What I have not done, though, is yield to the burgeoning, beckoning commercial vegetable and fruit washes that meet me at eye level, it seems, wherever produce is sold. There’s something about the purchase that would make me feel manipulated. I’m all for short cuts and the easiest way to do something, but people have been living and thriving forever on produce that didn’t get the carwash treatment, metaphorically speaking.
This is not an argument against taking care to clean anything going into our mouths that isn’t going to be baked at a very high temperature. Quite the contrary, even before the days of toxic chemical spray, there was the issue of unwanted protein in the form of six-legged creatures and dirt that, even if organic, Makes for a fairly disgusting salad topper.
So are commercial sprays and soaks a good thing? A necessary one? In my opinion, about as necessary as cell phones for eight-year-olds, but it’s hard to find a more scientific answer. Some sources say, prepared washes are no more effective than homemade formulations. Some say soap and water is fine. Others say do not use and soaps or cleansers because they may have chemicals that should not be ingested. Some say water does as good a job as anything, and that’s the method to which I subscribe.
Make Your Own Fruit and Vegetable Wash – Two “Recipes”
1. Into a spray bottle place 2 tablespoons of baking soda,1 tablespoon of lemon juice, and 1 cup of water. Spray fruits and vegetables; leave mixture on for 5-10 minutes. Rinse.
2. Into a spray bottle place 2 tablespoons white vinegar (distilled works best),1 tablespoon lemon juice, and 1 cup of water. Spray the fruit or vegetables. Wipe and eat.
How to Wash Fruits and Vegetables
· Keep fresh greens, fruits and vegetables away from uncooked meats to avoid cross-contamination.
· Keep countertops, refrigerator, cookware and cutlery clean.
· Avoid bruised, moldy and mushy produce.
· Rinse berries and other small fruits thoroughly and allow them to drain in a colander.
· Don’t wash fruits and veggies until you are ready to eat them. Washing weakens the protective coatings that keep moisture inside.
· Wash all pre-packaged fruits and vegetables, even if the label claims they are pre-washed.
· Removing the skin? Still wash it. Bacteria from a rind or a skin can be transferred to the edible part of fruits and vegetables from your knife.
· Remove and discard the outer leaves of lettuce and cabbage heads, and thoroughly rinse the rest of the leaves.
· Firmer fruits and vegetables, such as apples and potatoes, can be scrubbed with a vegetable brush while rinsing with clean water to remove dirt and residues.
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