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Rub a Dub Dub
Properly wash fresh vegetables to ensure that pesticides, bacteria and germs won't find their way into your dinner. It is easy and does not take much time. Wash hands first with soap and hot water for at least 30 seconds. Clean your sink first by mixing 1 tsp. of chlorine bleach and 1 quart of water. Wipe surfaces down with a paper towel. Dilute some dish soap with warm water and place unpeeled vegetables directly in the water. Use a produce scrub brush for vegetables with rough surfaces such as potatoes. For more delicate vegetables, use your hand to rub on the vegetable in some clean water. Create some agitation to loosen and remove dirt. Use a spray washer on spinach or other leafy greens and drain in a colander. Wash vegetables you intend to peel before and after you peel them. Openings or cuts in the skins can cause bacteria to enter the vegetable. After cleaning, rinse well in clean water.
Vegetable cleaning products, usually sold in spray bottles, are effective for safely washing fresh vegetables. Use them after you have cleaned the vegetables in the sink, removing all the dirt first. Purchase a vegetable and fruit wash with ingredients like citric acid, citrus oils, baking soda and phosphates. You can wash your fruit with diluted chlorine bleach but most people find it worrisome that bleach is touching their food. More natural solutions include a sugar or salt and lemon or grapefruit rub. Make sure the vegetables are dry before applying. Small amounts of vinegar in water will work well to wash fresh vegetables safely. Baking soda is useful, but make sure to rinse well to remove the white residue. Club soda, lemon lime soda or any product with citric acid in the ingredients works well. Beware that any cleaning agents will possibly leave a film or taste.
Store it Clean
For leafy vegetables, wash before storing and then trim. Put in an airtight container or zip lock bag in the refrigerator. Use the crisper since the higher humidity keeps them fresher longer. If the vegetables become slimy or moldy, throw them away. Rinse the vegetables again before you prepare them for eating. Bacteria you missed the first time will contaminate and multiply while in storage.
Precautions for Pre-Bagged Produce
Bagged produce is handy and convenient for busy people. E. coli and other contaminants are in bagged products as well. Also, the closed environment can create humidity and thus multiply bacteria. Use the same methods to clean bagged produce as any other produce. Discard the bag or container and use a clean storage bag after washing.
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