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Don't ever wash raspberries - Good Advice??

So I was watching food network at the gym over my lunch hour (somehow I always feel guilty having the elliptical screen on that channel, but I can't help myself!) and Ina Garten said something that I haven't heard before. She said "don't ever wash raspberries because they absorb water".

On some level I guess this makes sense, but I'm kind of a freak about getting rid of chemicals, dirt, or anything else that may have attached itself to fruits and veggies during commercial processing. Is this advice that should be followed? Or is it more important to wash off the fruit? I'd love to hear your opinions.

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  1. Wash everything that is not cooked, that's jfood's philosophy. And that includes the stuff that says "pre-washed, no need to wash." Yeah right.

    And jfood hears you on the screen thing. Mid-afternoon on the screens above the machines :

    1 - Bloomberg
    2 - Rachel Ray
    3 - People's Court

    Great hoot and all the exercise allows jfood to eat more good stuff.

    1. Have to say - I never wash raspberries, for that reason. I don't wash mushrooms either - just wipe off the dirt with a slightly damp paper towel, or my mushroom brush when I can find it.

      5 Replies
      1. re: MMRuth

        I was under the impression that a light rinse-not soaking-just before using berries, etc. was ok.

        1. re: markabauman

          That may well be - I'm probably being lazy though as well (grin).

        2. re: MMRuth

          ditto....my mushroom brush has taken a powder, too....has it eloped with yours????

          1. re: MMRuth

            ATK did an experiement disproving the mushrooms absorb water theory.

            In any event, knowing what mushroom soil is comprised of, a little water is waaaay better than mushroom soil.

            1. re: MMRuth

              I'm a huge raspberry lover. Try to eat it every now and then although it's little expensive compared to other fruits. And it's organic. I have to say without even knowing or hearing about washing raspberries I wash before eating the fruits. Well I noticed that raspberries are water absorbent fruits; in that sense I just rinse them off while the fruits are still in the plastic box.

            2. It depends on the source of your berries. Commercially purchased, even organic, I give them a quick passing under cold running water and let them drain. If I have picked them, and I'm familiar with the area, I might not give them a rinse.

              More generally, don't wash your produce until you're about to use it, as the water can accelerate deterioration.

              BTW - I'm in complete agreement with MMRuth on mushrooms. Water is their enemy. If you're dealing with anyone who has a compromised immune system, though, these suggestions are out the window.

              4 Replies
              1. re: hungry_pangolin

                I just saw an episode of Good Eats where Alton 'smashed the myth' that washing mushrooms causes them damage. He said the surface skin of mushrooms is the same chitin that covers shellfish, and water does them no harm.

                1. re: mojoeater

                  I saw the Alton Brown episode to which you refer, and as annoying as I find AB sometimes, his science is normally spot on. That said, about absorbtion: True of the cap, not of the gills.

                2. re: hungry_pangolin

                  Wash them -they have chemicals on them. Wait until you are about to use them and drain on paper towels. If you don;t wash them you are risking a major stomach upset or worse.

                  1. re: emilief

                    Rinsing produce with water doesn't do anything to remove chemicals, or germs that could cause stomach upset. It will get rid of some surface dirt, but that's about it.

                3. I have wild raspberrys, and blackberrys at the back of my property, and I give them a quick wash with some cold water in a collander after picking. I dont think a quick wipe will remove the possible deer, fox, coyote, stray dog, or cat urine if they decided thats where they wanted to relieve themselves.

                  Mine are actually almost all ripe, I am going to harvest them this weekend.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: swsidejim

                    Yeah, I am so with you on washing berries ... who knows where that 'extra flavor' Ina Garten thinks she is getting comes from.

                    For the marginal, if any, flavor you might or might not get, you are risking your health. That being said, I do swipe an unwashed berry or two at the market and the way home and the taste is no different than the washed and safer berries. Like someone else said though, only wash just before eating.

                    Ditto on mushrooms. Wash them. And if you are not convinced. Wash one and brush the dirt of another. See if you can tell the difference.

                    I remember this show about a mushroom farmer and they asked him if he ever ate mushrooms. He said rarely raw and he would wash them a lot if he did. Gosh I've got to think that wild mushrooms have an even greater chance of being contaminated since they grown on the ground. Berries are on vines and less subject to yellow rain.

                    1. re: rworange

                      I agree 100%, perhaps some like the possible "gamey" taste of the unwashed raspberry but not I.

                      I also wash mushrooms, since they are grown in manure, and sand, that is really an unappetizing thought to get a taste of that.

                      When I was mowing the lawn last week, I checked out the raspberrys & blackberrys, and used my bottle of water to wash a couple & ate them....really sweet.., I think they should all be good for the picking this weekend... I have to get them all picked before the birds and other animals beat me to it.

                      1. re: swsidejim

                        good point jim

                        gotta get to the back of the property and check out the raspberries. hopefully the deer left some this year

                        1. re: jfood

                          Last year they beat me to it, it not going to happen again... : )

                  2. If they've been sprayed with chemicals, washing them won't gt rid of them. Raspberries, like strawberries suck up every molecule of pesticide they get.

                    I only buy organic berries, in season, locally, and i don't wash them. Instead, I pick them over for "extraneous materials" that might have gotten mixed in. I was a Girl Scout... I've eaten my share of dirt... ;>)

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ChefJune

                      Yeah, that's generally my thinking. I don't wash the berries I grow in my yard and on occasion wash the ones I buy, but I pretty much stick to organic. Berries (particularly strawberries) are some of the most heavily sprayed fruit and washing won't get rid of all the pesticides.

                    2. I think it is bad advice, especially given the poor quality of many raspberries (on the verge of mold). They do carry dirt and they do need to be washed. Just allow them to gently drain after washing. Big commercial growers usually have products that are slightly moldy or actually moldy and local fruit is less processed and has more dirt.

                      I wipe cultivated mushrooms well with a damp papertowel but wild mushroom demand a brief soak to let wild critters escape, expose worms, and/or release most of clumps or dirt. Morels are luxury condos for pests and porcini often harbor nasties as well. The water will evaporate if you let them and you can out any extra water.

                      I cannot believe people would eat unwashed fruit and mushrooms if they actually washed them well and looked at what comes out and off them.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: JudiAU

                        raspberries do contain a fair number of bugs so I would want to wash them first. Plus whoever picked them and handled them may not have clean hands. Bleh.

                      2. Good grief, that's like the myth about not washing mushrooms, because they, too, absorb water.
                        Of course you wash them--raspberries and mushrooms. The only thing is, you wash them right before you use them, so they don't sit around and get water soaked.

                        1. Our raspberries, blackberries and mushrooms come from the open-air mercado. Not only do we wash them, we soak them in Microdyne water, then drained on paper towels. Anything eaten raw gets the same treatment. Better safe than spending the night in the bathroom.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Pampatz

                            When I was a kid, I worked on many picking crews. I can't tell you how many berries went straight from the plant and into my mouth. Never heard of anyone getting sick.

                            BTW, I also never saw any animal wandering around a berry field relieving itself. It just doesn't happen.

                          2. I've never even heard of the "don't wash raspberries" rule. How exactly do they absorb water? Because of their shape? I thoroughly wash each and every bit of produce I eat, not even really because of pesticides (how would you even get rid of that anyway?), but because of dirt. Especially with raspberries, there are so many nooks and crannies that dirt (and potentially bugs) can get lodged in. Maybe I've never eaten a raspberry straight from the plant, but I don't see how they taste any different when given a good rinse.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: janethepain

                              To answer one question, the water isn't absorbed - it's the nooks and crannies in which the water hides. If you wash the berries upon purchase, and let them sit for a couple of days, they will begin to deteriorate. If you're going to wash or rinse them (and, as I said above, you usually should), do it just before usage.

                              In my many years of omnivorous life, I have never washed/bathed a mushroom. Thorough treatment with a damp cloth or paper towel, and some judicious trimming, is all I have ever done.

                            2. I personally never wash raspberries and definately not mushrooms, just brush them off... And I still seem to be fine, hahahaha
                              do wash strawberries though! always wash them before you remove the stem! yes strawberries will absorb the water after you remove the crown!

                              1. Well, I just bought some organic raspberries to eat with my morning cereal and was curious about the cleaning issue. I got them from Sam's Club and its a Driscoll product. I guess I will rinse them but it appears to be little safe guard because how the raspberry absorbs liquids....

                                I will admit that I rarely clean pre-washed mushrooms that I cook. Now, I have converted to frozen and dehydrated varieties as most fresh mushrooms already look bad at the grocer.

                                1. I rinse any produce that looks like it has dirt or schmeg that might affect the flavor....If I can't see it, I assume it's small enough for my immune system to deal with. In fact, I feel stronger for having eaten and beaten it.

                                  1. I certainly wash raspberries, not so much for the dirt factor, but because there is lots of bugs hiding in them (I pick my own and freeze them for the rest of the year, on the occasion that I buy a carton of raspberries from a grocery store, I probably wouldn't wash them)

                                    1. Try the method of Nature, its the best way. All berries get water on them all the time from rain showers, so how do they not absorb all that rain? its because of the sun and wind, so wash wash wash and clean them then put them under the sun and air for 30-45 min, this is the way nature gets all moisture out of berries. Bon appetit :)

                                      1. I don't wash much of anything ...

                                        1. I don't wash raspberries or blackberries, usually not mushrooms, everything else, yes, especially
                                          Salad Greens, whether they claim to be pre washed and ready to eat or not.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: EWSflash

                                            I used to refrain from washing mushrooms, just brushed them with a damp mushroom brush. But then I married a Russian woman who is an expert on all things related to edible fungi (including foraging her own wild ones), and learned from her that it is perfectly OK to wash them as long as you're cooking them since any slight water that gets absorbed will render out again in the cooking process.

                                            Raspberries we never wash, but it has nothing to do with water absorption, everything to do with destroying the delicate flavor and texture.

                                          2. If I know where they come from and how they were grown, then I would be willing to eat them without washing them. In general, though, I"m going to wash or peel any fresh fruits or vegetables I buy, to get rid of both pesticides and organic waste.

                                            For example, I always wash mushrooms, and for dried mushrooms I rinse them in water before soaking them to rehydrate, to get rid of pesticides. But I'll wash and then pat off the excess moisture, to keep them from soaking too much up.

                                            1. I thought the "do not wash" when it comes to berries was mostly for freezing. If you wash them pre-freezing, they'll stick together more.

                                              1. The water absorption thing is rather silly. It's not like they're like a dry sponge (dramatic change with water).

                                                I don't wash raspberries because they're far too delicate and have been through enough with the washing and transport damage. As for the health risks, the odds of them being contaminated are low. If contaminated, the odds of whatever is present doing anything other than be a nuisance for a few days is low. Combine the two and I'll take those odds.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: ediblover

                                                  I am on my 5th year of a huge raspberry crop in my backyard. They grew from my neighbors plants. every year I soak my raspberries because my logic is to soak the little tiny bugs out of the fruit, ( I figure they will float to the top and I can skim the away). This sometimes works. But in the process, my fruit gets smooshed, the water I wash away is red and my fruit is left with a very dull color and the taste is not as brilliant. Can someone please help me!!! This isn't a small bit of fruit, we pick multiple quarts about 2 to 3 times a week each summer.

                                                  1. re: jeanneboppers

                                                    >>> the taste is not as brilliant

                                                    Maybe the little tiny bugs are adding flavor. Seriously, maybe you are soaking too long. Store unwashed until using, and then dunk briefly to float out any passengers on the raspberries.

                                                2. sometimes it rains the day before the raspberries are picked. and yet they remain ok......

                                                  1. If they are commercially grown I definitely wash them. The people that pick them usually do not have access to proper bathrooms equipped with soap and water so they cannot wash their hands after relieving themselves and going back to picking your berries.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                      1. re: Fowler

                                                        Raspberries are usually picked by machine - which gently shakes them onto a belt to be shot onto pallets. But yes, hygiene in the field is nonexistent. My Dad raised raspberries commercially for years for the neighbor who contracted the equipment and help.

                                                      2. That makes no sense. If you have a good digital kitchen scale, try weighing unwashed berries, then rinse, dry well and weigh again.

                                                        I never eat unwashed, non-homegrown produce. You don't know where it's been and who has touched it.

                                                        1. I used to wash them but found it watered the flavor down, so I no longer do. Same for all berries.

                                                          1. It's been reported that washing berries in hot water not only cleans them but helps extend their usable life noticeably.

                                                            http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/26/din...

                                                            9 Replies
                                                            1. re: eclecticsynergy

                                                              This really works for berries -- and peaches, too. Not only does the hot water kill off mold -- you are less likely to get fruit flies in your kitchen.

                                                              1. re: eclecticsynergy

                                                                I started shocking all my greens and lettuces and also raspberries and strawberries last summer. Works perfectly. Berries keep for a week in glass containers on a piece of paper towel. Note that I only bother to shock the produce when I get it from the farmers market or farm stand. I have heard that some commercial growers do it to their produce before it goes to the store.

                                                                1. re: ElsieB

                                                                  I find local farmer berries to be far more perishable.

                                                                2. re: eclecticsynergy

                                                                  Wha?? This seems so counter- intuitive! But greens? Wow.

                                                                  1. re: TSAW

                                                                    The Times piece makes no mention of greens, just berries. I'd be interested in reading the details as to time and temperature for different types of greens.

                                                                    1. re: greygarious

                                                                      Strawberries 140 15 sec then onto a towel to dry, then I freeze or store in glass in fridge (w paper towel in bottom).
                                                                      Lettuce & greens 122 1-2 min drain on towels then store in fridge in container (also w paper towel in bottom).
                                                                      I have found it amazing! Mesclun mix from farmers market lasts 7-10 days and berries don't go to mold in 3 days, they keep 5-7 days. I have never seen this shocking treatment damage the produce at all. Also nice as everything is clean and ready to eat from the fridge.

                                                                      1. re: greygarious

                                                                        First, because I can't help myself, for anyone interested here's a companion video for the Times acticle:
                                                                        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fEcQj...

                                                                        As to time and temps, I pretty much concur with ElsieB.
                                                                        I should say though, that I don't exactly "shock" anything - basically I just do a rinse under hot running tap water which I guess is usually 120 - 130 degrees F....I follow that with a rinse under cold.

                                                                        With romaine hearts, broccoli, and cauliflower I first remove a thin slice of the stems to expose "fresh cells".
                                                                        After washing, I remove excess water and wrap with paper towels and store in loosely sealed plastic bags.
                                                                        Celery gets a slice off the root and then put in a vase topped with a plastic bag.
                                                                        Berries and grape tomatoes do get more of a "soak" but only because it's easier. Berries go in sealed jars, tomatoes go back in their original container lined with paper towels.

                                                                        My only "failures" have been with strawberries.... Too hot, or too long they get mushy and change color - I use "warm" water for them now and they're fine.

                                                                      2. re: TSAW

                                                                        I blanch/shock greens and they are ready for whatever all week.

                                                                    2. I used to not wash them until I found little bugs on the inside of them now u wash and check each raspberry YUCK!