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  • Dr. Liz Homan

Washing Produce!

A couple weeks ago I asked people how they washed their fruits and veggies! Well, to my surprise, there are some people who do not wash them at all, which is where I used until a few years ago. And I also found that there are a variety of ways that people wash their produce. This led me to do some more reading and try to figure out the best way to wash produce…

Well, what I found is that there is really no exact science for any of this… there are a few studies that show one way is more effective than another way, but then I found another study that showed that just plain water was the best method to getting your fruits and veggies clean… So today I want to share briefly about the results I did find.

It has been found by doctors at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst that washing apples in water with a dash of baking soda was the most effective way to remove pesticide residue. It is recommended to let your apples soak for at least 15 minutes and then rinse them off and dry them with a cloth. This is going to help remove some of the wax that is put on many apples and also remove as many pesticides as possible. The ratio for water to baking soda is 1 tsp of baking soda per 2 cups of water.

In another article I found it said that simply running water over your fruits and veggies may be beneficial for much of your produce but when you allow it to soak in the water for some time, you have a better chance of removing more germs and residue that may be present.

A lot of people that I asked about how they washed their produced reported that they used vinegar. I looked into this more and found claims that the acidity of the vinegar kills bacteria because it gets into the cell membrane which causes protons to be released resulting in the cell to die. For this to work, you need to have a strong enough vinegar water solution. The recommended solution I found was 1 part distilled vinegar to 3 parts water. You then want to place the produce in the water and then stir it around and let it soak for at least 10 minutes. You then drain the produce and rinse it well.

I also read that using either a soft bristle brush or a soft cloth can be really helpful to removing any germs and bacteria that may be present on the outside of your produce.

No matter what you chose to use to wash your produce, you want to make sure to thoroughly dry it before putting it away either on the counter or in the fridge. When the surface is clean and dry, you may notice that the produce may stay a bit fresher for a little longer.

I personally have the routine that as soon as I get home from the grocery store, I unload my bags and all produce that needs to be washed gets sat by the sink. As soon as I am able, I fill the sink with neutral/cold water and sprinkle in a couple teaspoons of baking soda. I then swish the water around to get the baking soda to dissolve and I place our produce into the sink. I will then let it sit for at least 15 minutes… sometimes longer depending on what I get distracted by. After that time, I come back, rise off all of the produce and put it into the drying rack to drip dry for a bit. I am going to start implementing using a cloth or brush in washing certain produce verse just using the friction of my hands like I have been. After it has drained for a bit, I grab my towel and dry everything the rest of the way before putting in the fridge for the week.

We personally wash all of our fruits and veggies except for bananas. So, this means, apples, grapes, cucumbers, peppers, oranges, avocados, watermelon…. You name it, it goes into the sink. And the reason for this is that when you go to cut or peel any of these items, you touch both the outside and the fruit at the same time… so if the outside is not clean and your hands touch that, you should wash your hands before touching the fruit… and that just does not happen in this house 😉…

Okay, so I know that this was not super conclusive as to what is the best way to wash your produce, but hopefully it gave you some insight and motivation to begin washing your fruits and veggies if you are not currently and to change up your routine a bit if you find that necessary.

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