Did you know it is important to wash all fruits and vegetables, even if you plan on peeling them? Fruits and vegetables can pick up dust and soil as they are being harvested, handled, packed, and shipped. They may also have trace amounts of chemicals and bacteria on the outer tissues that can be removed by washing. The following are suggestions for safe handling of fruits and vegetables:
Start the process of preparing fresh produce with clean hands. That means you should wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water before and after preparation.
Wash all fruits and vegetables in clean drinking water before eating. Wash the produce just before you plan to use it, not when you put it away. Lettuce, on the other hand, can be rinsed before refrigerating to help maintain crispness. Make sure that it is completely dry before storing it. If your bagged lettuce states that it is pre-washed, there is no need to rewash it. Rewashing can lead to cross-contamination.
The best method for washing ripe or fragile berry fruits—strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries—is by spraying with a kitchen sink sprayer. Use a colander so you can gently turn the fruit as you spray. If the fruit absorbs too much water, it will lose flavor, texture, and aroma.
Even if you are planning on peeling the fruit or vegetable, it still needs to be washed. If it is not washed, dirt and bacteria can be transferred from the surface when peeling or cutting the produce.
Do not use soap, detergent, or commercial produce washes when washing fruits and vegetables. The detergent residues will be left on the fruits and vegetables. Since produce items are porous, they might also absorb the detergent.
To learn more about buying, storing, and washing fruits and vegetables, use this information from the FDA.
There are more fruits and vegetables on the market every day. Wash them well and enjoy the goodness of the season!