Mother Earth Living

So Fresh, So Clean: How to Wash Produce

Wash fruits and vegetables to avoid food poisoning.
By Ken Hoyt
September/October 2009
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Wash your fruits and veggies with water and white vinegar for a green clean.
Photo By Ken Hoyt

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Whether your produce arrives in a basket from the backyard or in a bag from the grocery, it should freshen up before dinner. Food poisoning is often linked to unwashed fruits and vegetables, so even when an item (such as premade salad) says “prewashed,” it’s wise to give it another rinse. The simplest wash uses the universal solvent, water. We can use less of this natural resource by using this practical, three-step cleaning process.

No soap!

Many vegetable and fruit skins are more porous than they look. Soapy water can penetrate the surface.

No soak!

Some water-soluble nutrients such as C and B-complex vitamins can be lost when fruits and vegetables are soaked or cooked in water, according to the Colorado State University Extension program.

The skinny on shiny

The polished glow on apples and other items is actually a thin coating of wax or shellac. Sometimes the wax is from natural sources, such as carnauba or wood rosin, but it is frequently made from petroleum products.

Advocates of wax coatings (natural or not) make the case that they help preserve moisture content and prevent bruising. Detractors note that pesticides are trapped beneath that surface, and that the manufacture and use of petroleum products harms the environment.

To avoid wax coatings, buy as close to the growing field or orchard as possible. Or grow it yourself!

Easy veggie wash


• Water
• A vegetable brush
• 1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar (for produce with waxed skin)

1. Fill a basin or bowl with water. Submerge vegetables and agitate gently to loosen dirt or other debris. For fruits or vegetables with a waxed  skin, add 1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar per cup of water.

2. Scrub gently with a vegetable brush to help remove dirt or wax.

3. A very brief final rinse in running water removes any loosened soil.

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