We are very well aware of the pandemic situation the whole world is facing. While certain things are easy to avoid, you cannot keep yourself staving until it gets over. No matter what cuisine you choose to prepare at home it will require different vegetables and fruits. Also, it is a good idea to have fresh produce as it helps with better immunity. But the question is, how to sanitize vegetables and fruits picked from different sources?
You can either pick veggies and fruits from the supermarket or a local vegetable vendor. No matter which source you prefer, it is always ideal to wash each of them properly before consuming it. Besides, the trend nowadays is to buy veggies and fruits online to avoid exposure to the novel coronavirus. But you might not have to be so worried when it comes to washing them. Follow some simple steps and you’ll be able to disinfect vegetables and fruits at home easily.
Washing Produce at Home Properly
1. Wash your hands
Washing your hands frequently is one great precaution to stay away from deadly viruses and bacteria. But it is equally important to wash your hands for at least 30 seconds before you wash veggies or fruits. This is because you never know what type of germs and bacteria you carry on your hands after paying a visit to the supermarket. And washing produces with clean hand ensures no germ or bacteria from hand transfers to the greens or fruits. FDA also suggests washing hands thoroughly at last when you’re done cleaning and storing vegetables.
2. Well Rinsing
A common myth nowadays is washing vegetables and fruits with soap or detergent will help get rid of bacteria and viruses. And bathing the produce in soap or detergent is not at all a healthy option. Even FDA recommends rinsing produce before peeling or consuming. Running water is enough to wash bacteria and dirt off the delicate surfaces.
3. Vegetable Brush
Take a step further in sanitizing fruits and vegetables by using a vegetable brush. These brushes are ideal for hard-skinned fruits and veggies like watermelon, melons, cucumbers, potatoes, etc. Place the vegetable under running water and gently scrub the surface to thoroughly clean it in seconds. Just make sure not to use the brush to wash green leafy as these delicate produce gets damaged easily.
This isn’t a necessary step but many prefer to dry certain items after washing and storing them in the fridge. And if you wish to store vegetables and fruits right away after cleaning then use paper towels. It is better to use kitchen paper towels instead of cloth as paper is a healthier option.
The above 4-step cleaning process applies to all types of produce. Be it store-bought, backyard grows, or bought from a local vegetable vendor.
How to wash vegetables and fruits with baking soda?
If a simple rinsing process is not enough to satisfy you then you can go one step further. A common kitchen ingredient, baking soda, can do wonders. Baking soda is a strong ingredient that effectively removes impurities from the surface. In fact, baking soda was found more effective than Clorox Bleach to remove pesticide residue from apples. So sanitize fresh vegetables and fruits easily at home with an inexpensive yet effective kitchen ingredient.
- Baking soda
- Vegetable scrubber(optional)
- Fill nearly half of your kitchen sink with cold water.
- Then add 1 tablespoon of baking soda to the water and give it a mix. You can increase or decrease the baking soda amount according to ingredients.
- Now add your fruits and veggies to the sink and let them sit in the baking soda water for 10-15 minutes. Here you can use a vegetable scrubber to clean hard-skin items like potato, melon, cucumbers, pumpkin, apples, zucchini, avocado, etc.
- Drain off the baking soda water and rinse the ingredients one more time with regular water. Let them air dry in a basket or use paper towels for immediate drying.
Why Should you use cold water to wash produce?
It is important to use cold water and not hot water. This is because hot water might soften the outer layer of certain veggies like capsicum, chilies, etc, and lets the dirty water penetrate in. Also, it damages the skin of fruits and degrades them at a faster rate. So many health advisors strongly recommend using cold water over hot water. But it is not really necessary to dip produce in icy cold water. You can wash fresh vegetables and fruits in regular water. Just turn the regular water faucet of your sink.
Stay away from Myths
Increasing cases of coronavirus have left many people in panic. I was also shocked when my neighbor told me an unusual way to clean veggies and fruits. It was then I realized there were many myths floating around and they need to be cleared right away for the good sake of others.
Using Soap/Detergent: This is one common myth running through the net. It is not at all safe to wash any fruits or vegetables with soap. Doing so increasing health risk as ingesting even a little amount of soap causes stomach discomfort. And you might not like visiting hospitals or pharmacies in such difficult times.
Diluted Bleach for germs and viruses: It is true that bleach is a strong cleaning agent that removes dirt, pesticide residue, bacteria, etc from the ingredient surface. But ingesting bleach is even more dangerous than soap/detergent. In short, you must never bath ingredients with diluted bleach.
A vegetable scrubber is a must: It is not necessary to have a vegetable scrubber to clean ingredients thoroughly. You can use your hands to clean both soft-skinned and hard-skinned produce. Also, some soft ingredients like capsicum, grapes, cherries, etc are hard to wash using a vegetable scrubber. So you can either rinse them with cold water or soak them for a short while in baking soda water before consumption.
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Do not let myths and dangerous vegetable and fruit washing practices scare you. There is no need to buy expensive soaps, detergents, or products that claim effective washing. Also, the WHO and Federal Drug Administration(FDA) notes there is no current evidence supporting the transmission of coronavirus(COVID-19) through food or food packing.
It is always a good idea to sanitize fruits and vegetables before consuming them whether there is a pandemic or not. Simply rinsing them with cold water is enough to wash off dirt, bacteria, and other particles. Or else you can dip the ingredients in baking soda and water for more effective cleaning. Sanitizing vegetables and fruits the right way will keep you away from the ill effects of pesticides, wax, paraffin, chemicals, and dirt, common on produce surfaces. So eat healthily and stay safe.