Choosing, Washing, and Storing Fresh Produce

Find out what to look for when purchasing fresh vegetables, the proper way to store them to maintain freshness, and what’s in season in ISU Extension’s publication, Fresh Vegetable Guide.

To prevent foodborne illness, you need to wash fresh produce whether it’s from the grocery store, farmers’ market, or your garden. Most produce does not need to be washed until it is ready to prepare or eat.

  • Start by washing your hands with soap and water.
  • The best way to remove dirt and germs is to wash produce thoroughly with running, drinkable water.
  • When washing heads of lettuce or cabbage, you need to loosen dirt. Remove and discard the outer leaves before rubbing gently under cool, running water. Bagged greens that have been washed before packaging do not need to be rewashed.
  • Fruits and vegetables that have firm surfaces, such as melons or potatoes, should be scrubbed with a clean brush. Wash all produce even if you aren’t going to eat the skins. Dirt on the surface can pass to the edible parts.
  • Do not use soap, vinegar, baking soda, chlorine bleach, or special washes to clean fruit or vegetables.

FDA also offers a great resource on safe handling of raw produce.

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