HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Wash vegetables before roasting?

I have a nice-looking bunch of broccoli that I want to roast. It looks pretty clean, and I'll be subjecting it to 425-degree heat. Do I still need to wash it? Sure, washing isn't that hard -- it's the DRYING that's a pain. Roasting broccoli requires the vegetable to be really dry to get a proper caramelization, but you can't really pat it dry without somehow getting into every little sprout crevice, and I might not want to wait for hours for it to air dry.

So, do I reeeeeeeally need to wash this broccoli if I'm going to punish it with high temperatures and presumably kill all the bad stuff? What do you think? AND would your answer be different if said broccoli was organic?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Yeah, you need to wash it -- you need to remove the sand/dirt and whatever airborne *whatever* has settled on it.

    Bacteria isn't my concern -- it's the sand and any hitchikng bugs.

    1 Reply
    1. re: sunshine842

      Ditto. The grit can break a tooth! If you have a salad spinner that would help dry it. If not wrap in a kitchen towel or several paper towels and dab firmly. You definately want to wash & dry.

    2. Yes, either way you need to wash off the sand and dirt and fertilizers and dead bugs and various nasty pesticides.

      If organic, it will still need to be washed. Most organic produce that I buy is actually dirtier than supermarket produce because it is less processed.

      1. Agree with other responses, you def. want to wash it. Personally I've never had a problem with caramalization, but I often wash in the morning and let drain all day.

        1. Yes, always wash fresh fruit and veg that don't have a removable peel. Some of the ones with a peel even warrant washing. Having worked in a grocery, trust me, it's worth the trouble. You just never really know where it's been in transport. This is not to strike fear into the hearts of the germ phobic, because most won't have been walked on, dropped on the floor, etc. but common sense and basic hygiene are good observances. The possible grit in the florets alone would have me washing broccoli.

          1. I';ve never washed broccoli, nor noticed any grit or wildlife on it.

            10 Replies
              1. re: ospreycove

                Generally, I don't wash veggies before roasting, so that caramelization is optimized, but based on that list, I will now scrub them... while wearing a hazmat suit.

                1. re: ospreycove

                  I wonder how many of those are water soluble.

                  1. re: MGZ

                    Good question... an even better one is: How many are heat-soluble? In starting this thread, I was most interested in what chemicals and bacteria could survive a 425-degree oven.

                    1. re: montyque

                      Actually, upon reflection it would seem that if they are water soluble they will have been absorbed into the plant. If they are not, rinsing the vegetable isn't going to do any good. Guess we're eating them either way.

                  2. re: ospreycove

                    The question is, how much of that can be washed away and how much is inside the broccoli flesh?

                    1. re: scubadoo97

                      Yep. That's what I've been wondering.

                      1. re: MGZ

                        FWIW, I do wash my vegetables before roasting but was just wondering

                  3. re: greygarious

                    Oh I have. I once put a head of broccoli into a colander set into a bowl then ran water over the broccoli. About a million tiny black bugs floated to the surface. Even when I drained the bowl and added salt to fresh water, several times... I could not get rid of them. This was a store bought head of broccoil.

                    1. Not for food poisoning issues.

                      But you do need to wash off any pesticides, dirt, bugs, and so on.

                      12 Replies
                      1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                        Alright, everybody, I guess the consensus is that I wash the damn broccoli. Now, if anyone has tips on drying the damn stuff...

                        1. re: montyque

                          Hi all...

                          I'd be inclined to wrap it in a towel and leave it for a while. That should get it pretty well dry.

                          Or, if you're in a screaming hurry, maybe a hair dryer set on no-heat??? Would that work???

                          Not being flippant, I really do wonder if that might work...


                          1. re: montyque

                            Why don't you just wash it when you first bring it home? or do you shop right before dinner every night?

                            1. re: amyzan

                              I always thought you were only supposed to wash veggies briefly before preparing them. Is that an old wives' tale?

                              1. re: montyque

                                Well, yes, that's ideal, but we don't all live in an ideal world. Some people make allowances for various needs-lifestyle, time, convenience, a desire for well caramelized oven roasted broccoli... ;)

                            2. re: montyque

                              I wash/chop mine in the morning and then leave it sitting in the colander the rest of the day (if it is something that seems like it needs refrigeration, i do the colander thing in the fridge with a plate or bowl under it). That seems to do the job.

                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                  I have one, but it's better at getting things less-than-drenched, as opposed to ready-to-roast dry.

                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                    Or maybe Sam's old standby in lieu of a salad spinner -- put items in a clean pillowcase and swirl overhead, lasso style. :)

                                    1. re: LNG212

                                      I must have missed this when Sam suggested it but I love the idea--there's not enough lassoing in a kitchen. Bittersweet memory of Sam, the cowboy, though.

                                      1. re: chowser

                                        That rec and Sam are forever linked in my memory banks. In fact, whenever I pull out my salad spinner, I inevitably think of him and this recommendation. Sometimes I even feel bad that I purchased a salad spinner. Bittersweet memory indeed.

                                        But really good advice too! Would have expected nothing less from Sam.

                                  2. re: montyque

                                    Do you have a convection oven? They do a marvelous job of browning veggies, even wet ones!

                                  1. I'm actually surprised with the responses. If it's one from the supermarket I wouldn't wash it, sure there are pesticides or germs, but that doesn't really bother me. Now, one from the farmer's market, that's another story. Definitely wash those. Last time I bought some there was a bunch of tiny caterpillars/worms on it.

                                    15 Replies
                                    1. re: AndrewK512


                                      Because vegetables grown for supermarket consumption never have dirt or bugs or whatever...

                                      O RLY?

                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                        Hahaha, my thought exactly!

                                        Lord knows how many gross hands have touched your pristine supermarket veg!

                                        1. re: LauraGrace

                                          Do you know that it is a law in some ag. states but not all, that the grower must provide Porta-Johns in the fields.....Hmmm, and in the states where they are not required??? Or consider the imported produce; I'll bet there are no "comfort stations in the fields of Mexico/Guatamala/Jamica/etc./etc.
                                          So the question is.....Do the workers use the rows that they already picked, or do they not consider that fact "when nature calls"????

                                          1. re: ospreycove

                                            Hehehe... yes, that supermarket produce is SOOO clean! ;)

                                            1. re: ospreycove

                                              Even if johns are provided it is often a very long walk to where they are. But even if they do get to them how many do you think wash their hands.

                                        2. re: AndrewK512


                                          I will tell you what I saw once:


                                          I saw that happened and since then I started regularly wash my vegetables and fruits.

                                          1. re: AndrewK512

                                            I'll remain in blissful ignorance on this one.
                                            And yes, rarely have I ever found dirt or bugs on my supermarket produce.

                                            1. re: AndrewK512

                                              No dirt? Even on celery? Do you buy them processed or whole? But, then again, I wash because of the pesticides, not the bugs.

                                              1. re: chowser

                                                oh come on now, not even leeks, radishes, beets,....you must shop at some incredibly unusual produce markets!

                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                  Yeah, that's why I was asking if he bought processed stuff like salad in a bag. I can't imagine completely dirt free/bug free produce but am not sure I want to!

                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                    Well, we've all seen the recall reports on bagged salads/greens last year...even bagged produce needs to be washed properly.

                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                      I always feel as if I'm being overly careful washing my bagged cauliflower, but i do it anyway. Glad I do after reading this thread.

                                                    2. re: chowser

                                                      only hydroponically grown.in a clean room lol

                                                    3. re: HillJ

                                                      I do end up washing beets and leeks and potatoes, but even they don't have that much dirt.
                                                      And no, I don't buy processed stuff.

                                                      1. re: AndrewK512

                                                        Oh okay, AndrewK512...washing is what we were wondering...not the amount of dirt...just that there is bound to be some.

                                                        My technique to submerge in the kitchen sink with cold water. Then I spin dry in my salad spinner, wrap in moist paper towel and place in a ziplock bag. Works great for greens, small vegetables, veggie prep work, leeks this is a must (tight fibers), etc.

                                              2. 'tsnot so tough - just give it a wash, with a little brush if needed, and pat it dry with a thin cotton towel. I keep a set of cotton towels for food handling, sometimes squeeze tofu with it, that kind of thing.

                                                1. Wash your vegetables before prepping or cooking them. Organic or not.

                                                  1. I must say the variety of replies are interesting to say the least. I always wash my vegetables and I even know people that wash their bananas before peeling them. The idea that washing as soon as you bring them home before storing sounds like the best idea.

                                                    18 Replies
                                                    1. re: Groundhog.Judy

                                                      It is a great variety of replies, and I'm very grateful to all of you -- and also psyched that I was able to start a lively conversation. Thanks to all.

                                                      1. re: Groundhog.Judy

                                                        I think, but please someone correct me if I'm wrong, that certain vegetables shouldn't be washed until the day of use because otherwise they sort of start to rot. I hate the practice at our local produce sections of "showering" the food every few minutes. Herbs get really gross and slimy.

                                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                                          "the practice at our local produce sections of "showering" the food every few minutes."

                                                          As the woman answered the greengrocer, when he asked why she was violently shaking the $1.49 lb. lettuce, "I'm just trying to shake 8 cents off my purchase."

                                                          1. re: Rmis32

                                                            I do this! It really ticks me off that my lettuce is weighed down..

                                                            1. re: monavano

                                                              They have paper towels in our produce section and I use the heck out of them to dry stuff off. I really hate this practice. anyone know why they do it? They must lose tons of money in rotten cilantro and parsley.

                                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                                My grocery stores never stock paper towels and I really hate that all their plastic bags on a roll are small--impossible to stuff kale and cabbage. No bags by the meat too. I hoard bags and go back to the meats so I dont have to touch them.

                                                                1. re: monavano

                                                                  I can never fit the fennel in those bags. Grrrr.

                                                          2. re: LulusMom

                                                            Yeah, I asked that same question above... I wasn't sure whether it was an old wives' tale that veggies shouldn't be washed until shortly before preparing. Maybe that's just the case with herbs, and not veggies? I wonder what the case would be for lettuces.

                                                            1. re: montyque

                                                              I think lettuce can be washed ahead of time. It get showered at the grocery store!

                                                              1. re: montyque

                                                                Herbs can be washed, but afterwards they like to be stored standing with their "feet" in water, and preferably with some sort of baggie or plastic container over top to minimize humidity loss. (The frig is a bit dry and has too much air circulation for them, really.) They're a lot like cut flowers. It's much easier, though, to store relatively dry, keep them in a bag in the crisper, and use within a few days if at all possible.

                                                                1. re: montyque

                                                                  Nothing should be "pre-washed". Water promotes mold, bacteria and deterioration.
                                                                  The spray in the markets helps the shelf life so lettuce and other veg doesn't wilt as fast. The extra weight may make them a little extra in the price but is eaten up by the cost of water and electricity. It is simply to cut down on waist, not a training method for customers.
                                                                  Even when being grown most crops do NOT get overhead watering to prevent diseases.

                                                                2. re: LulusMom

                                                                  Yes, LulusMom, don't ever do this with berries, for instance. But, broccoli should be fine, as should almost any root or cruciferous vegetable I can think of...

                                                                  1. re: amyzan

                                                                    Not sweet potatoes -they start getting mushy within a day (I found this out accidentally). Good to know about the other vegetables though. thanks!

                                                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                                                      Yeah, sweet potatoes are one root veggie that are particularly high in water content. They're highly perishable if they aren't well cured after harvest, and anymore, not all farmers or farming operations do that step, or don't have the conditions to do it every season. When we harvest them, we store them dirty, and even then, sometimes the water content is just so high depending on the conditions that year, it's really hard to get them to convert starches and cure to a moisture level for storage.

                                                                      1. re: amyzan

                                                                        potatoes & sweet potatoes go in one basket on my kitchen floor and garlic, onions and shallots go in another. I never wash potatoes until I'm ready to cook them.

                                                                3. re: Groundhog.Judy

                                                                  "I even know people that wash their bananas before peeling them"


                                                                  1. re: MGZ

                                                                    to prevent cross contamination. Think of where those bananas have been and how many have touched them. The conveyor belts, ship holds, trucks, etc. Ship rates that have run over and urinated on them.
                                                                    It is not uncommon at all for workers to urinate in the fields even in the US. In the US they are now required to have porta potties but how many of the workers do you think wash there hands after going?

                                                                    1. re: lastniceguy

                                                                      anybody who can pee on a hand of bananas from the ground deserves a significant amount of respect.

                                                                4. Yes, not only wash, but soak in basin/sink of cold SALTED water awhile. Amazing how many formerly unseen critters may float to the surface, Then rinse well and separate into chunks and drain/dry whatever way you want.