Cleaning produce carefully before eating it is important for lots of reasons. Some people blame all foodborne illnesses on meat, but in recent years, fruits and veggies, like spinach, tomatoes, and lettuce, have played a role in many illnesses.
Your fresh fruits and veggies can get contaminated by animals or harmful substances in the soil or water during farming. And after farming, they pass through many people’s hands, raising that risk even more.
Easy Steps for Cleaning Produce
- Start by washing your hands with soap and warm water.
- Always wash and cut off bruised or damaged parts of fruits and veggies before eating or preparing them.
- Always wash fruits and veggies before you peel them, so dirt and bacteria don’t go from your hands or knife onto the parts of the fruits or veggies you eat.
- Use a clean vegetable brush to scrub firm produce, like melons, squash, and cucumber.
- Gently rub fruits and veggies under cold, running water. You don’t need to use soap or cleaners.
- Dry them with a clean cloth or paper towels to help get rid of any other bacteria.
Tips for Cleaning Produce
Fruits with Stems
Fruits like apples and pears can hold bacteria around the stem, so it’s always a good idea to wash them off right before eating them. And it never hurts to cut off the core’s outer ends before eating.
Fruits with Rinds
Even though you don’t eat the peel of things like oranges and grapefruits, make sure you rinse them well before peeling them. You can always scrub bumpy foods, like avocados, to kill bacteria. If you’re going to use zest in a recipe, cleaning these kinds of fruits is really important.
Rinse berries gently. Using a colander can make it easier to drain them of extra water.
Lettuce and Cabbage
Throw out the outer leaves of all heads of leafy greens.
Broccoli and Cauliflower
These have lots of spaces for bacteria to hide. Soak these for a few minutes if rinsing them can’t get every spot.
Things that come in a bunch, like celery, should be pulled apart before washing, so you can get each piece clean.
Veggies like potatoes and carrots need scrubbed well to get all of the dirt and bacteria off, even if you’re going to peel them after.
Some mushrooms can absorb water, so it’s important to not let them soak. Rinse them gently or wipe them off thoroughly with a damp cloth or paper towel.
Still needs washed! And while farmers markets are a great place to get local, healthy produce, you should still wash it all carefully!
Your fruits and veggies can also get contaminated after you’ve bought them. Learn more about storing your food to prevent this. And make sure your food prep is safe.