Time to read:3 minutes
A homemade fruit and vegetable wash costs just pennies to make. It’s also an important step in food safety.
Washing fruits and vegetables isn’t just about removing visible dirt. Produce often harbors bacteria, bugs and their eggs, and other substances not readily visible to the naked eye. (Hey, did you see that lady squeezing the tomatoes? The one who’d just wiped her nose? Yeah. Ugh.)
Homemade Fruit And Vegetable Wash
What to Wash
Even melons should be washed when you bring them home unless you fancy the thought of dragging any pesticides and bacteria through your fruit as you slice it. Many of us think that’s overkill, but it turns out we could be exposing our families to very dangerous bacteria.
That’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health agencies are reminding people to wash produce, including cantaloupes, amid an investigation into an outbreak of listeriosis reported in a half-dozen states that so far has been linked to the deaths of four people.
Produce that you peel, like bananas, also doesn’t get a pass. Think about all the times you grabbed a banana then touched other food without thinking about all the nasty things on it.
We own a retail store in a town 70 miles from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Several years ago, a customer whom we had not seen in quite some time returned to our store. She explained that she had been sick a long time, and was finally diagnosed as having a parasite that she got from bananas. An article in the Cedar Rapids Gazette reported about two or three years ago that the Mayo Clinic is seeing more of this parasite in recent years, and warned people to wash their bananas with soap and water before peeling.
So how do you wash produce? Well, you could buy some of that expensive spray at the grocery store — or you can make produce wash from one of these homemade mixes below.
When to Wash
• Wash melons as soon as they’re brought home from the store to prevent them from contaminating your countertops.
• Store washed uncut and unpeeled produce at the same temperature you found it at the grocer. In other words, if it was in the middle of the produce section it’s best stored on countertops, while items on chilled shelves should be stored in the refrigerator.
• Make sure produce is completely dry before refrigerating since excess moisture leads to mold and rot.
• Lining your crisper drawers with newspapers or paper towels helps absorb moisture and keeps your produce fresh longer.
• Store mushrooms in brown paper bags. This helps keep them from getting slimy and blocks the light that makes them go bad quickly.
• For longer-term storage, see this Master List of How To Save Produce.
Homemade Fruit and Vegetable Wash #1
For hard-skinned produce.
1. Fill a clean sink or bowl with equal parts water and white vinegar.
2. Soak produce for 5 minutes then use a soft-bristled vegetable brush to clean it.
3. Rinse with fresh water.
Homemade Fruit and Vegetable Wash #2
For soft-skinned produce and leafy greens.
1 gallon cold water
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup table salt
1. Fill a clean, deep sink with 1 gallon cold water then add the vinegar and salt. Swirl to combine.
2. Soak produce in this mix for 5-10 minutes then drain and rinse repeatedly using cool water.