Eating healthy revolves around eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
And whether you buy your produce organic, conventionally grown, fresh from the farmer’s market, or from your own harvest, the produce still needs washed.
An estimated 45 million people fall ill from food contamination every year, and you can prevent or greatly reduce your risk of being one of those people by ensuring your produce is safe for consumption. (Believe it or not, a salad typically has a greater chance of containing E. coli bacteria than a burger.)
So how do you wash produce effectively to remove as much residue as possible from any dirt and germs (think of all the places a juicy watermelon has touched in making its way to your house) without harsh chemicals?
How to Naturally Clean Produce
Well, let me share with you my natural and cheap method!! I have got your attention now, right?! You have to love a good bargain, especially one that will keep your family safe and healthy!
Vinegar. Yep simple white vinegar. It is my go to for just about every cleaning need in my house, but that is for another day.
For all produce, one part vinegar to three parts water, will do the job. I will add fresh lemon juice if I feel that the produce is particularly dirty–the acid from the lemon juice aids in killing germs And I always have a spray bottle with this solution right under my kitchen sink to quickly spray on produce and wash away the nasty stuff.
To keep things easy for my week and for my family to always have fresh fruits and veggies ready for eating, I wash my produce as soon as I purchase it. For me the easiest way to do this is to fill a large bowl with 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water and a squirt of lemon and then submerge as much produce as I can into the bowl. I allow the produce to soak as I put the remaining groceries away.
For larger produce, I fill my sink with the same 1:3 ratio of vinegar to water and place the produce in the “bath.”
Once my produce is washed, I dry with clean kitchen clothes and store for the week. For lettuce, I place a paper towel in the container with the lettuce and that helps keep the lettuce fresher longer.
Storing Fresh Herbs
For my fresh herbs, I place them upright into a large glass or pitcher with a bit of water, wrap loosely with a paper towel and cover with a clean plastic storage bag (not the bag from the grocery store—that is what you brought your dirty produce in!!)
Keeping your family safe from food contamination:
- Always thoroughly clean your plates, counters, sinks, and utensils with HOT, soapy water. I like to have a spray bottle with 1 tablespoon bleach for every 4 cups water to spray on anything that may have touched raw meat. Then I rinse thoroughly before putting produce anywhere near the area that was touched by raw meat!!
- Never use the same knife or cutting board for fresh produce as was used for raw meat, without first thoroughly disinfecting.
- Never place cooked meat back onto same plate that raw meat was on. Same goes for utensils. For example, when putting raw burgers on the grill, wash the spatula in between flipping to ensure no bacteria remains on spatula to be passed to cooked burger.
- Cook chicken to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, Pork 145 degrees, and fresh beef 145.