cleaning produce

6 Tips For Actually Cleaning Fruits And Vegetables

To rinse…or not to rinse, that’s the question. Think you know the answer? Try again! The answer is not as easy as you may think. Hard or soft, smooth or creviced, straight out of the farmer’s hand or pre-washed – there are all sorts of shapes, textures and situations and the FDA has recommendations for each. Purchasing a fruit and veggie rinse isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Here’s what you need to know about cleaning your family’s fresh fruits and veggies.


  • Brush it:  If you thought the only things you’d be brushing would be Barbie’s or your little one’s hair, we’ve got news for you. It’s time to move onto bigger and better brushes 😉 But seriously, if your family is eating tougher-skinned produce (melons, cucumbers), or produce with lots of crevices, we suggest buying a veggie brush. That way, you can brush away anything that’s on the skin’s surface or tucked away in the nooks and crannies.


  • Strive for perfection…but know it doesn’t always work out: If you shop at some of the organic chain supermarkets known around the country, you’re probably used to rows and rows of picture-perfect produce just begging to be picked up. That said, sometimes there are minor flaws. Other times, your toddler thinks an apple is basically the same thing as a baseball. Know that however your fruits or veggies get bruised or cut, it doesn’t automatically mean that you’ll need to toss them. Rinse the fruit or veggie in question and carefully cut the affected area out. Then, bon appetite.


  • Rinse, rinse, baby…then peel: Many people think it’s completely unnecessary to rinse their fruits or veggies before peeling. When you’re a busy parent, you may think you ain’t got no time for that. Our tip – make time for it. You never know who touched those gloriously multi-colored carrots before you. So, if you just peel them and then serve them to your family you could be exposing your family to icky things.


  • Go at it again: As in, rinsing once probably isn’t enough. Twice may not do it, either. Third time? Might just not be the charm here! Studies show that rinsing produce like lettuce up to 5 times decreases the amount of harmful bacteria that could be on produce.


  • Anything pre-washed: Don’t go washing pre-washed things, because the FDA said so. Maybe this sounds crazy (particularly if your family is vegetarian or vegan) but stay with us: Imagine your partner makes meatballs for dinner. (S)he rinses the spoon off that was used to mix, but leaves it in the sink. The next day, you give your pre-washed spinach another rinse in the sink before eating it for lunch. Bacteria from the spoon your husband used last night gets onto the lettuce. Yuck! How likely is this scenario? Fairly likely. 48 million people in the United States get sick from food borne illnesses each year.


  • Shake, shake, shake it off: OK, we know that fruits and veggies can’t shake. Since that’s the case, dry your produce off immediately after rinsing it. And hold off on rinsing until just before you or your family is about to eat the produce. Why? Moisture = bacteria growth (especially at room temperature). That’s all.
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