The Proper Way To Wash Fruits And Produce
The world around us is full of bacteria and microorganisms, some of which have benefits, and others that aren’t so great for us. They live inside of us, in the air we breathe, in our water, and in the food we eat. We can’t see them, but the effects of the harmful ones can certainly be felt.
When we buy fruits and different types of produce, it is important to wash them to remove harmful germs and other contaminants to prevent illness and protect ourselves and our loved ones.
Washing fruits and produce is actually quite simple, however, too often many of us forget this very important step and put ourselves at risk every day. It is not something we can afford to omit, and we should encourage others to do the same.
In this post, we’ll take a look at the importance of washing fruits and produce, and what can happen if you don’t do it. Next, we’ll discuss how to properly wash your fruits and produce plus the things you should avoid doing whenever doing so.
What Can Happen If You Don’t Wash
Fruits and vegetable can get contaminated in the growing and harvesting processes. As with any other product, cross contamination can occur during handling.
When we talk about washing fruits and produce to reduce the risk of illness, we don’t mean for the sake of preventing the spread of the coronavirus. While that is important, we are speaking in a more general sense, meaning that this is something that is just as important during the pandemic as it should have been before and will be after it is over.
The purpose of washing fruits is to remove the contaminants that lead to unless. This includes chemicals such as pesticides and insecticides, bacteria such as salmonella and E.coli, dirt, and certain microorganisms. These may be introduced to the fruits or produce at any point during the growing and harvesting process, or while it is in the store. For instance, while you may have washed your hands before going into the store and examining fruit, another person may not do the same and might be coming from the bathroom or another area with dirty hands. Another easy way germs can be spread is by a small child walking by and accidentally knocking a piece of fruit over and quickly putting it back. Who knows what germs are on the floor? You should get the picture by now.
Ingesting chemicals such as pesticides and insecticides in large amounts may affect the nervous, endocrine, and integumentary systems. They also have the potential to cause certain cancers and lead to malignant growths. Once in the human body, pesticides may even be passed on to infants through breast milk, and even retard growth and development.
Salmonella is a type of bacteria that occurs naturally in our intestines and the intestines of other animals. However, when this bacteria is ingested orally, say via undercooked chicken or as a result of cross-contamination on vegetables, it results in salmonellosis. This can lead to fever, stomach pains, vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea. E.coli is found in the gut and intestines. It is generally harmless and produces the same symptoms as salmonella. In rare cases, it may lead to severe illness, kidney failure, and death.
Though you may have heard that eating dirt as a child will build your immune system, the soil may contain remnants of human and animal excrement that may cause several illnesses. Soil may also contain deadly parasites and microorganisms. Other health effects include lead poisoning, gastrointestinal issues, and even pregnancy complications.
How To Wash Fruits And Produce Properly
Now that you understand importance of washing your fruits and produce, let’s look at how to actually do it properly.
You will need:
- Fruits or produce
- Paper towels
- Vinegar/ Salt/ Baking soda (optional)
- 360 Kitchen Sink Faucet Aerator Extension Sprayer
- Silicone Cleaning Kitchen Rubber Gloves
- Large bowl (optional)
- Colander (optional)
- Spray bottle (optional)
Step 1: After you’ve removed your fruits or produce from their bag, the first thing you need to do is cleanse your hands and your work area. Ideally, you should use warm water and soap, and wash them thoroughly for at least 20 seconds.
Step 2: Next, wash your fruit. Most people use plain water, while others mix it with salt, baking soda, or vinegar. It’s all up to you and whichever method you prefer.
The soaking method is ideal for small fruits and produce with small crevices, for example, grapes, strawberries, cauliflower, and cabbage. This will help to loosen dirt from hard-to-reach places and remove anything the spraying method may miss.
Simply fill a large bowl with water (or your mixture) and gently place your fruits or produce inside for 3 minutes. Gently agitate the water by swirling it around to help loosen any particles, then pour the water out.
If your fruits or produce are small, place them into the colander and turn on your faucet. Rub them between your fingers as you rinse them.
For this method, you will need your 360 Kitchen Sink Faucet Aerator Extension Sprayer. This is ideal for larger fruits and produce with smooth surfaces, such as apples, tomatoes, and cucumbers. For those with firm skin, and small grooves such as potatoes, carrots, or grapefruit, your Silicone Cleaning Kitchen Rubber Gloves will come in super handy!
You may use plain water to rinse the fruits or produce or fill your spray bottle with a washing solution. Next, use your gloves to gently scrub the surface for a few seconds until you are satisfied it is clean. Rinse with water.
Step 3: Once clean, dry your produce with the paper towels and use them immediately or refrigerate.
Step 4: Clean and disinfect your work areas once more, then wash your hands.
You’re all done!
Is Washing ‘Pre-Washed’ Fruits and Produce Necessary?
The short answer to this question is no. Whether they come in their skins or come peeled, there’s a greater chance of you introducing contaminants as you try to wash them. This is especially true if the fruits are vacuum-sealed or frozen.
Do I Need To Wash Fruits and Produce From My Garden?
While you may see movies where people just go out into their gardens and pick an apple or tomato and just bite into it, it isn’t generally a good idea. No matter how neat your garden is and how hard you may work to keep pests out, there’s no real way of being certain they are free of contaminants. We don’t have to paint a picture of all the ways they could get introduced, just use your imagination.
Are some foods dirtier than others?
Have you ever heard about the dirty dozen and clean fifteen? Well, pretty much it’s a list of the produce with the most and least amount of pesticide content. It was published by the EWG as a way to educate consumers about the foods they consume.
In 2021, strawberries, spinach, and kale/collard/mustard greens held the top 3 spots on the Dirty Dozen list. They were followed by nectarines, apples, grapes, cherries, peaches, pears, bell and hot peppers, celery, and finally, tomatoes.
The 2021 Clean Fifteen list is topped by avocadoes, sweet corn, and pineapple. Next on the list are onions, papayas, sweet peas (frozen), eggplant, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, kiwi, cauliflower, mushrooms, honeydew melon, and cantaloupe.
In this case, your best bet is to buy organic or to ensure you wash them thoroughly to get as much of the chemicals off as possible.
What To Avoid Doing When Washing Fruits and Produce
Knowing how to wash fruits and produce properly isn’t enough to keep you and your loved ones safe. You also need to know what to avoid doing to ensure you don’t make things even worse for yourself!
Some of the most important things you should avoid doing include:
- Avoid using used or dirty equipment or utensils after washing fruits and produce. This will only reintroduce contaminants and put you at risk.
- Do not leave fruit and produce unattended after washing. Consume or cook immediately after washing, or refrigerate. Leaving them out may reintroduce contaminants.
- If you are preparing multiple items, especially meats or seafood, prepare your fruits and vegetables first. This prevents cross-contamination.
- Do not use a towel or washcloth to dry your fruits or produce since these can contain bacteria. Instead, use a disposable paper towel.
- Cut away bruised or damaged areas on your fruits or produce before preparing or serving. It may be hard to rinse the germs from these areas. If you are rinsing layered vegetables such as lettuce or cabbage, remove the outer layer before washing.
- Do not use any forms of chemicals, detergents, soaps, or even bleach to wash your fruits or produce. This is not necessary. In some cases, you may use a sponge or brush to help loosen dirt if harvested from a home garden or received directly from a farm.
Washing fruits and produce is important for preventing foodborne illnesses caused by bacteria, chemicals, and other contaminants. Most fruits and products may be washed with plain water, but some persons prefer to make solutions with vinegar, baking soda, and even salt. Do not use any forms of chemicals or bleach. When washing fruits, remember to wash your hands and clean your work area beforehand to prevent cross contamination. These simple measures will help to keep you and your family safe!