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:
Wash all fruits and vegetables in clean drinking water before eating. The ideal water temperature to use for most produce is between 80 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit. 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. Produce used in salads, such as lettuce, radishes, carrots, etc., should be washed in the coldest tap water available to maintain crispness. To get maximum crispness, immerse the greens in a mixture of ice cubes and water about a half-hour before serving.
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 you do not have a sink sprayer, berries and soft fruit should be placed in a wire basket or colander into a 5 to 8 quart pot of warm water. Move the basket in and out of the water several times. Change the water until the water remains clear. Do this process quickly. If the fruit absorbs too much water, it will lose flavor, texture, and aroma.
Do not use detergent 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. If you would like to make your own fruit and vegetable wash, follow this recipe: 1 quart water, 2 T. baking soda, 2 T. grapefruit or other acidic juice and 1 tsp cream of tartar. This mixture can be refrigerated for up to 2-3 weeks and is safe for human consumption.
There are more fruits and vegetables on the market every day. Wash them well and enjoy the goodness of the season!