Something is taking big bites out of my tomatoes before they have a chance to ripen. It’s been so hot and dry this growing season I’m certain it’s a squirrel or a possum looking for moisture. The bite marks remind me I’m not always the first to handle my harvest and who knows where those “hands” have been. Whether it’s produce from my own garden or something I’ve purchased at a farmer’s market, it’s always wise to clean fruits and vegetables properly before eating them.
Washing away unwanted bacteria and chemical residue is a quick process so there is no excuse for skipping this step when preparing a meal. The name of the game is to clean the fruit or vegetable itself to avoid transferring germs either to or from the food. Here are some tips.
- Wash your hands before and after handling produce.
- Wash carrots, potatoes, cucumbers, oranges and the like before you peel to prevent transferring bacteria from the exterior to the edible portion.
- Use a soft scrub brush on firm things like potatoes and apples.
- Do not use soap to clean edibles.
- Soak intricate vegetables like broccoli or lettuce in cold, clean water for a minute or two.
- Remove and discard the outer leaves of leafy vegetables like lettuce and cabbage.
- Cut out bruised or damaged spots where bacteria may be harboring.
- Use a vegetable wash to clean away oil-based or waxy pesticides and preservatives that water won’t remove.
- After cleaning fruits and vegetables dry with a clean towel.