It's getting close to the season for fresh fruits and vegetables. So many of us have become conditioned to the idea that the producer will triple wash and clean all the produce that we don't take proper sanitary precautions at home.
This can be a problem when there are pesticides on the food or when there is a bacterial contamination. Pesticides don't come off with just a quick water rinse. They're chemical creations that are designed to be water insoluble (otherwise how would they stand up to the rain). And if there is some sort of bacteria on the food simply cutting into it can transfer these bacteria from the outer skin to the flesh of the fruit or vegetable.
Therefore in order to have the best possible kitchen hygiene it is important to follow a few simple rules. These rules won't protect you in the case of serious outbreaks or contamination from the production end. But they certainly go a long way toward helping you to have the cleanest food possible.
- Wash your fruits and vegetables with a solution designed to help clean them.*
- Always use a clean cutting board and knife on a clean counter.
- Do not cut meat on the same cutting board or with the same utensils as fruit, vegetables, bread, or cheeses.
- Always sanitize your equipment and counter after working with meat.
- Scrub any hard outer layers. This includes melons and squashes.
- Discard the outer leaves of leafy vegetables which are often also tougher and less tasty.
*Because water alone is not enough to thoroughly clean your produce, consider using a wash. You can purchase fruit and vegetable washes at the grocery store however you can also save a little money by making your own at home.
Combine the following ingredients:
1 C. water
1 T. vinegar
2 T. baking soda
Let mixture fizz a little and then pour into a spray bottle.
To use this wash spray onto produce and let sit for a couple of minutes. Wash in cold water, scrubbing with a brush if the produce has a tougher rind or peel.