We all know that pesticides are harmful and we should be buying organic when we can. But what about the other things lurking on our fresh produce?
It's important to give our fresh fruits and veggies a good wash or soak before using them to remove any unwanted germs that could cause harm. Not to mention, sometimes the fruits, veggies and herbs we buy from the grocery store or farmers market can be a little dirty. I'm looking at you, cilantro!
DIY Fruit + Veggie Spray
Commercially prepared produce wash is fine, but it's so easy and budget-friendly to make at home. Plus it is 100% natural. You could drink the stuff (though you might think twice about that) and it wouldn't hurt you.
Recently I altered my go-to recipe. I used to use a lot more vinegar along with adding baking soda, which I realized probably didn't do too much once they had reacted with each other. Now I use less vinegar and add fresh lemon juice. It does a nice job, I think.
Produce spray is great for any veggie or fruit with a skin or peel on it - apples, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, mangoes, etc. Even if you don't eat the peel, like with mangoes, it's important to give the produce a good wash so any microbes on the exterior aren't transferred when the fruit or vegetable is cut.
Vinegar and lemon act as disinfectants and can also help remove the wax or any leftover pesticides from the peels. Grapefruit seed extract is a potent anti-microbial agent that's also a powerful anti-fungal.
It has a very bitter taste and can cause irritation. So you only need 10 drops - a little goes a long way!
Fruit + Veggie Spray
- 1 ½ to 2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 10 drops grapefruit seed extract (optional)
Mix together and pour into a spray bottle. Spray on fruits and veggies (except mushrooms) and let sit for a few minutes. Scrub if needed and rinse well.
3 Fruit + Veggie Soak Methods
Methods 1 and 2 are great for leafy greens, including salad greens, broccoli, cauliflower and leeks. Method 3 is good for fresh berries.
Just don't leave them in the soak too long, especially the berries. Thirty seconds to a few minutes is all you need. If something is particularly dirty, rinse it well in clean water.
The vinegar helps, too, if you are washing leafy greens from the garden that might have little bugs in them. The salt with the vinegar provides extra bacteria-killing power, according to Cooks' Illustrated magazine. That can be helpful especially against dangerous bacteria like E.coli.
Method 1 for leafy greens
- Big bowl of water
- 4 tablespoons salt
- juice of ½ lemon
Mix together in a big bowl. Add greens and soak for a few minutes. Rinse well.
Method 2 for leafy greens
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup vinegar
- 1 tablespoon salt
Mix together and let produce soak. Rinse well.
Keep in mind that you don't want to wash more delicate leafy greens and veggies until you're ready to eat them. The extra moisture can cause them to spoil more quickly.
I do wash some leafy greens when I get home from the store and prepare them to use over the next two or three days, and they seem to be fine. If you do choose to wash everything when you get home, just be sure to let everything completely dry and line the produce drawers with a cloth or paper towel to absorb extra moisture.
Method 3: perfect for fresh berries
- 4 cups water
- 1-2 tablespoons white vinegar
Mix together in a bowl. Add the berries. Let stand for no more than 5 minutes.
Remove from bowl and rinse well. Let dry completely before refrigerating.
Photos by Ana-Maria Stanciu201