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Clean Fruits and Vegetables with Water and Vinegar

Clean Fruits and Vegetables with Water and Vinegar

Link: http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/clean-fruits-vegetables-vinegar-8777.html

Every year, nearly 48 million people fall ill from food contamination, including sickness caused by fruits and vegetables. Animals, dangerous substances in soil and water, poor hygiene of food employees and several other circumstances can lead to contamination. To avoid this, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends washing produce thoroughly. Cleaning produce with vinegar helps kill bacteria to ensure your fruits and vegetables are safe for consumption.

Smooth-Skinned Produce:

Keeping a blend of vinegar and water at a 1 to 3 ratio in a spray bottle makes cleaning smooth-skinned produce easier. Use the spray bottle to mist the fruit or vegetable, thoroughly coating its exterior with the vinegar solution. Allow the produce to rest for 30 seconds before rubbing its surface and rinsing it under cold, running water. This removes all vinegar taste. The FDA recommends cleaning smooth-skinned fruits and vegetables by gently rubbing them with your hands instead of an abrasive scrubber. This prevents you from breaking the skin before the fruit or vegetable is completely clean, which could expose the flesh to contaminants. Tomatoes, apples and grapes are examples of smooth-skinned produce.

Rough- or Firm-Surfaced:

Broccoli, cauliflower, leafy greens, melons, potatoes, berries and other produce without a smooth or soft surface are slightly more difficult to clean. They require a soaking in a 1 to 3 vinegar and water mixture. This ensures the acidic blend kills all bacteria. For heads of cabbage or other greens, you will need to separate the individual leaves for thorough cleaning. This can be a bit impractical at times, but if you use your sink as the container for the water and vinegar mixture, you should have plenty of room. After their soak, scrub the vegetables with a brush and rinse them under running water.

Other Precautions:

To stay safe when cleaning fresh fruits and vegetables, always wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling them. Also, thoroughly wash any surface they touched, including knives and cutting boards. Never cut or peel fruits and vegetables before washing them, as this can contaminate the flesh. Always dry produce with a clean cloth and cut away damaged areas before serving. When working with cabbage and lettuce, discard the outer leaves but do not fail to wash the inner leaves.


According to Colorado State University, blending lemon juice with the vinegar mixture makes it more effective by increasing the acidity. This can help kill increased amounts of bacteria, including E. coli. Washing berries with a vinegar solution offers additional benefits -- it prevents them from molding within a few days of purchase. When shopping, choose unbruised and undamaged produce. You should always wash oranges, melons, squash, pineapple and other produce with inedible rinds -- cutting or peeling the produce will transfer contaminants to the edible flesh.

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