We all know it’s a good idea to clean your fresh produce before eating it. Not only can fruit and veggies be covered in residue from pesticides and general gunk (you don’t know who squeezed that tomato or mango before you in the grocery store), but since we’re more likely to eat fruit and veg raw, there’s no cooking process to kill off any bugs or bacteria. But what’s the best way to wash your produce?

Shining it up with your shirt tail or running it under water for a few seconds isn’t going to cut it when it comes to getting your produce clean. Here are a few tips to get most of that nasty stuff off and enjoy your fruit and veggies without worry:  

  1.  Keep a clean routine

Regular water works just as well as (and possibly better than) store-bought “fruit and vegetable detergents,” but you need to be smart about your washing routine. Make sure your hands and any utensils you’re using (knifes, cutting boards, etc) are clean before you start. If you’re planning to peel the item, wash it before peeling. To clean it, run it under cool water for about 20 seconds or so, scrubbing with a small brush or rubbing it with your hands, using a colander if your washing several smaller pieces at once. Dry the items off with a clean cloth or a paper towel before taking it to the next prep stage. If you do peel it, give it another rinse before using or eating it.  

2. Give it a soak

Fruits and veg that don’t have uniform smooth surfaces can be a little trickier to wash. You’re not going to be able to easily get into all of the nooks and crannies of a head of broccoli or cauliflower. The same goes for salad greens and fresh herbs. Soak these items in a (clean) bowl full of cool water for a minute or two. Heartier items can then be dried off with a paper towel and leafier greens can go for a ride in a salad spinner to get rid of the excess water.

3. When in doubt, try vinegar 

If you’re really concerned about getting all the nasty bacteria off of your produce, some studies have shown that vinegar does a better job than just plain water. Make a solution using one part water and three parts vinegar and keep it somewhere handy in a spray bottle. Give your fruits and veggies a quick spray with the vinegar solution before washing under cold running water.  

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