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Washing Fruits and Vegetables

Do you always wash your vegetables and fruits before eating? If not, what types of fruits and vegetables do you not wash and why? Or, to put it another way, under what conditions would you wash and not wash? Organic, pesticide free...pre-packaged, pre washed...with skin vs no skin...grocery store vs farmers market...raw vs cooked...any of these make a difference?

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  1. always wash, unless it's something that must be peeled (banana, orange).

    I rinse potatoes and carrots because I buy them from the local producer, and they're frequently a little gritty -- I rinse so the grit doesn't end up in my meal.

    1 Reply
    1. re: sunshine842

      I think the only thing I don't wash is bananas.

    2. I wash everything...organic, pesticide free, prewashed.

      I also wash all my melons , pineapple and citrus fruits that I cut with a knife.

      I learned a long time ago that cutting into a rind that has not been washed runs the risk of contaminating the fruit inside, if there is any type of bacteria on it i.e.: salmonella, ecoli etc.

      10 Replies
      1. re: latindancer

        "I learned a long time ago that cutting into a rind that has not been washed runs the risk of contaminating the fruit inside"

        My mom told me the same thing! Well, not in those exact words since i was a kid when i asked that question. Her reply was "little nasty things are waiting to get inside, so we have to wash them out before we cut."

        1. re: majordanby

          I'm surprised more people don't.

          1984....my four year old daughter contracted salmonella from a cantaloupe. This particular year cantaloupes were responsible for camphlobacter and ecoli outbreaks. My first experience with the CDC and how it works and the ways fruits, like this one, should be handled when they come home. They sit in the ground, on the vine, and there are a variety of ways they now come in contact with some pretty disgusting things....one of them is the poor hygiene of the workers that pick them. That, alone, was enough for me to become hypervigilent with how I take care of my vegetables and fruits once they enter my kitchen.
          Your mother is right...the knife, having been in contact with the rind then gains access to the fruit inside. Whatever is on that rind is now on the knife.

          1. re: latindancer

            Yup. Exactly. If you don't want to eat what's on the outside of the fruit, wash it before you cut it open. People got sick at the Minnesota governor's mansion several years ago because they didn't wash the pineapples before cutting them.

            I don't know why people don't understand that what's on the outside gets on the inside as soon as you cut or peel the fruit.....?

            1. re: sandylc

              <I don't know why people don't understand that what's on the outside gets on the inside as soon as you cut or peel the fruit.....?>

              I disagree that they do not understand. I think most people do know that. Their assumption is that the outside is clean -- that was my assumption too before I started to wash the exterior.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                Oh! O.K.....I evidently mlsunderstood...

                1. re: sandylc

                  That is my impression, especially for people who buy fruits from supermarket. I mean, many people just bite the apples without washing, right?

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    Question about apples. Does anyone know how they are prepped before the wax coating is applied. I know all apples aren't waxed but the ones you buy in the grocery store are.

                    Are they washed prior to waxing or is the wax coating sealing in pesticides and germs. Seems when you wash an apple from the grocery store you are only washing the exterior waxed surface.

                    1. re: scubadoo97

                      I read here and there, and these are what I read:

                      "The apples, naturally have a natural wax coating on their surface. This natural wax coating helps to protect the apple fruit from shriveling and weight loss. However, prior to packaging of the apple fruits, they are washed by scrubbing the surface to remove dirt and chemical residues (if they are not organic). This scrubbing removes approximately 50% of the natural wax coating."

                      In other words, there was washing done before the waxing. In fact, the waxing was added because the natural waxing was removed. How clean/strong was the wash, that I cannot say.


                      Here is another one which talks about numerous steps including fruit cleaning, rinsing, dewatering, waxing...etc. In the cleaning section:

                      "Fruit Cleaning

                      Products and application techniques vary greatly. In some houses hot water is used for the application of the cleaner (under 140°F). In others the water is unheated.

                      Several houses change their cleaner on the basis of the type of deposit on the fruit. Alkaline cleaners do a better job of removing dirt while acid cleaners seem to be better on calcium deposits. This change is facilitated by the use of an injection pump system.

                      This step is a problem for houses running a larger volume of fruit than they were designed to run. Cleaning is another step which requires time and agitation. In addition to removing dirt and hard water deposits, the cleaner removes some of the natural wax and prepares the surface of the fruit for waxing. Some sheds have foaming nozzles or systems, while others have found that modifying the type, numbers or speed of the brushes helps improve cleaning. This is a critical step."


                      <Seems when you wash an apple from the grocery store you are only washing the exterior waxed surface.>

                      Depends. If you are only using water to rinse, then you are absolutely correct. However, if you use those fruit detergents, then you should able to remove the wax.

                      "How Does Veggie Wash Work?
                      Veggie Wash uses natural cleaners from citrus, corn and coconut to breakup the wax, soil and agricultural chemicals on fruits and vegetables so that itcan be easily and safely rinsed away."


                      I know this may contradict what some people believe, but I believe/suspect that a waxed apple is cleaner than an unwaxed apple. For a waxed apple, most of the dirt and bacteria collected between the orchard to the store are on the surface of the wax, so they are easy to remove. Not so for the an unwaxed apple.

                      Personally, I have used Veggie Wash before, and it does seem to do remove either some or all of the wax. The apple would look dull after I wash it.

                      Hope this help -- probably more information you asked for.

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        exactly what I wanted Chem. Thanks. Didn't know apples had a natural wax coating

                        1. re: scubadoo97

                          On many varieties it is down right unattractive even after washing,almost look blemished without russeting .Partly why many of the older cultivars aren't on the supermarket shelf.Some don't ship well and others don't make the beauty contest cut.

      2. I always wash fruit, but I don't bother with vegetables I'm going to roast. If a 450 degree oven isn't going to kill whatever may be on it, then water won't either.

        9 Replies
        1. re: Skippy1414

          what about if you're steaming vegetables? Or grilling them?

          1. re: Skippy1414

            So you leave dirty grit on your baked potatoes? Granted, it may be sterile, but not tasty.

            1. re: Novelli

              If you're not in the habit of eating potato skins, that probably won't matter, will it? I do rinse off any obvious dirt just because it's icky when I rub Crisco over them, as Mom taught me to do when baking potatoes. But to me a potato skin is like a lobster shell or melon rind: Food Residue.

              1. re: Will Owen

                I scrub my baked potatoes because I make baked potatoes specifically because I love the skin.

                1. re: sunshine842

                  Me too. Half of a potato's dietary fiber is in the the skin.

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      Not more than half from what I have seen. Typical potato has anywhere from 3-8 grams of dietary fiber - half of which is in the skin. Despite a popular myth, the majority of nutrients are not found in the skin - but in the potato itself. Also leaving the skin on retains all the nutrients, the fiber in the skin and makes potatoes easier to prepare.

                      1. re: scoopG

                        The skins are great in hashbrowns and fried potatoes....

            2. I rinse anything that doesn't get peeled. Do people actually wash their fruits and vegetables with soap and water?

              4 Replies
              1. re: olyolyy

                Some do. The argument is simple that certain chemicals simply cannot be washed away with water. So they add soap/detergent. I don't, but I do know people who do. Afterall, there are fuirt and vegetable wash too _- which has soap, just not household soap:


                A mix of water and vinegar is also very effective. I used to do that because then I got lazy, and that vinegar does add some taste, so extensive rinising is needed.

                "Fortunately, you can drastically reduce your exposure to pesticides and bacteria found on produce with a thorough vinegar and water wash. Experts found that a white vinegar and water wash kills 98% of bacteria and removes pesticides"


                "For micro-organisms, try rinsing produce with a mild solution of vinegar, about 10 percent. In a 2003 study at the University of Florida, researchers tested disinfectants on strawberries contaminated with E. coli and other germs. They found the vinegar mixture reduced bacteria by 90 percent and viruses by about 95 percent. "


                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  When my sister was sick with cancer and she was on chemo her doctor told her not to eat salads out at restaurants/deli's and if she was going to eat any at home she had to rinse it in that water/vinegar mix, including the so called pre-washed lettuces.
                  There was something in the news several years ago and I think it was over in Conneticut where several people got sick but there was a little girl who was extremely sick from supposedly triple washed lettuce. The poor mother believed what the bag said and her daughter ended up going into kidney failure.

                  1. re: GIOny

                    <The poor mother believed what the bag said and her daughter ended up going into kidney failure.>

                    It is so unfortunate. I think sometime people do not realize that what is fine for an adult may not be fine for a child, especially a baby. Case in point, lead poisoning. The level of lead to harm an adult is much higher than that for a child.

                    I was thinking about the pre-washed salad bags from supermarkets. Do you know how long these bags can be sold for? I don't know. The reason I asked is that what is wash and clean on day 1, may not longer be clean on day 3. Yes, whatever dirts or chemicals, those cannot increase, but organisms like bacteria can multiple in time.

                2. I rinse any vegetables that are visibly dirty or sandy - potatoes, leeks, escarole, lettuces, etc. I do the same with most fruit that is eaten without peeling. That's it.

                  I have never used any sort of detergent/soap to wash any food item and I never will.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: MGZ

                    Me too. I don't know if our fruit and vegetables are grown differently or if there's cultural differences over here, but I've never known anyone to become sick from cutting unwashed fruit or not using a vegetable soap. The CSIRO recommends a quick rinsing of fruit and vegetables as being sufficient. But they also go on to say that our strains of E. coli and Salmonella aren't as severe as strains found overseas.

                  2. I wash it all with a good rinse under running water, with a scrub brush on root veg that are really dirty. The only exception is packaged produce that is pre-washed.

                    Organic gets was too - I don't want to eat any of the organic fertilizer!

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: CanadaGirl

                      <Organic gets was too - I don't want to eat any of the organic fertilizer!>

                      Agree. Organic fertilizer and organic pesticidies are not to be comsumed.

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        Agree +2, especially how the definition of "organic" tend to get more and more broad these days.

                      2. re: CanadaGirl

                        you might want to consider rinsing that "pre-washed" produce as well. it's usually cleaned with a chlorine solution which can leave behind residue.

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          The water that comes out of my to has chlorine too! I know opinions on it are mixed, annive read both sides and figure both are sometimes correct. So, I go with doing less :)

                          1. re: CanadaGirl

                            i assume you mean the water that comes out of your tap. yes, some municipalities are heavy on the chlorine, but if i can smell the lingering aroma when i open the package - which is why i no longer buy bagged greens - and i can't smell chlorine when i turn on the tap, i'm pretty sure rinsing the greens will help remove at least some of the chemical residue. but YMMV, and you should obviously stick with what works for you :)

                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                              Wow- I've never noticed a chlorine smell when opening pre washed produce. Normally I have a pretty good sense of smell; I'll have to pay attention :)

                              1. re: CanadaGirl

                                We once opened a package of meat and were knocked over by the smell of disinfectant. The health inspector's office was very interested in our experience.

                                1. re: sandylc

                                  and it was pretty amazing how many store coupons I was given when I returned with a package of fish that *reeked* of bleach. Didn't use them for fish, of course....

                      3. Yes, most of the time.

                        To remove possible dirt and grit , to clean up pesticide and all that junk..

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Maximilien

                          I grow most of my own produce and don'd spray with anything, so that kind of thing's not an issue, but I use tons of grass clippings as mulch, and that stuff gets everywhere!
                          I wash it if it needs it, but unless it's got bird poo or clipping on it, I don't.

                        2. Although technically not a plant, I do not wash mushrooms. I may wipe with a cloth but Infind they seem soggy like they are holding water if I wash them.

                          1. Great question. I had a poll done two years back. If you are in the mood, then you can read various responss:


                            Now, back to your question. A few years back, I do not wash fruit and vegetable which I will peel the skin. I just didn't see the need to wash the surface and then only to peel it later. For foods which I do NOT peel, some I washed and some I didn't. I washed vegetables or really just swirl them around the water -- more than really washing, but I did not wash apple because I assume they are fairly clean.

                            Now, I almost always wash everything -- if just a rinse. Here is why. Once I walked by a fruit/vegtable stand while they were unloading the produces, a box tipped over a box full of fruits rolled out to the street gutter. The guy picked up the fruits and put them back into the box. I don't know if they clean them after, but I doubt it. So here is the thing. Most fruits and vegetables are never advertised ready-to-eat, so it is our responsibility to clean them. Take spinach for example. 99% of the spinach in the supermarket has mud and sand in them. I am sure that they expected me to wash them.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              hi. thanks for the link. didnt see it when i searched for wash or clean your vegetables.

                              when you peeled your vegetable, did you wash it after that? my mom always did that - carrots, potatoes - and ive gotten in a habit of doing that. didnt think nothing of it until a friend asked me why i washed that carrot after i just peeled its skin. i didnt know what to say...so, i told her that im catholic - sin is beneath the skin.

                              1. re: majordanby

                                <when you peeled your vegetable, did you wash it after that?>

                                Nah, after peeling, I assume it is clean. I mean it is exposing what is inside already, so if the inside is NOT clean, then the entire things are not clean, and I definitely have a bigger problem at that point.

                                I can understand why some people clean potatoes after, not so much for dirt, but to wash away the starch. Another argument for washing is that your think peeler is dirty, so you want to wash it after. But if that is the case, then you would think you want to clean the peeler from the start.

                                1. re: majordanby

                                  Speaking as a collapsed Catholic (thanks, Mallachy McCourt), that just made me grin. Thanks! On topic-- I wash for grit and so forth but am pretty casual otherwise. This thread is making me reconsider.

                                  1. re: monfrancisco

                                    <I wash for grit and so forth but am pretty casual otherwise. This thread is making me reconsider.>

                                    As in you will wash more or less?

                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                      Well, I don't know. Really. I posted below about water consumption concerns.

                              2. I wash everything but bananas. Even oranges, because my peeling-by-hand skills are so pathetic that I "start" the orange by biting a pit in the peel and go from there. I don't want even a mouthful of yuck.

                                And yes, I wash veggies from my own garden too because even if I know what I used in the soil and for water, I can't control what critter may have tinkled unbeknownst to me.

                                And with that surfeit of information, I go to my coffee. TGIF!

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: pinehurst

                                  LOL about the orange peeling! My peeling skills are pathetic too, that I actually cut the orange into six sections, then hold each section peel-down on the chopping board so that the peel is more or less flat on the board, before using a chef's knife to slice off the peel.

                                  1. re: pinehurst

                                    pine, I read many years ago about the stuff on the outside of bananas.....important, according to that article, to wash them before breaking the skin open....

                                  2. I wash everything except mushrooms which I wipe with a damp towel, it's such an easy thing to do I don't see why I shouldn't. (I'm mostly afraid of the nose pickers, snifflers and sneezers and eye wipers touching the produce as they select what to buy.) Also, like pinehurst, we eat out of our own garden, which is organic, so I know what has been crawling on it, I have to go out there and pick them off.

                                    21 Replies
                                    1. re: weezieduzzit

                                      I'm so, so bad at this - I don't know what it is, but I'm wiping mushrooms with a damp paper towel and there is *still* plenty of dirt on them. The only thing that seems to get them really clean is if I soak them a little and swish them around AND rub them with my fingers -- and then they need time to dry out. Besides this labour-intensive prep and the spacing out in the pan that requires cooking in two or three batches - it often puts me off cooking mushrooms. And I love mushrooms!

                                      Any tips?

                                      1. re: khh1138

                                        I keep changing the part of the towel that I'm using so I'm not just pushing dirt around but other than that... I dunno!

                                        1. re: weezieduzzit

                                          Just took a classic French cooking class in Paris and heard this tip reiterated that I've used and will continue to do so. I peel my plain white button mushrooms - it is very fast and all that is removed is a paper-thin layer. They practically peel themselves - just place the tip of your knife on the underside of the shroom and begin peeling upwards. Easy peasy.

                                          1. re: chefathome

                                            i'm so glad i'm not the only one! people usually look at me like i'm crazy when they see me clean mushrooms :) i've been using the peeling method on white button and crimini for years - it's the easiest and most effective way to get them clean.

                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                              It really is the most effecient and effective way. No, you are not the only one. I'm with ya!

                                            2. re: chefathome

                                              I am a peeler too. I always figured that wiping just moved the bad stuff around.

                                        2. re: weezieduzzit

                                          People, WASH YOUR MUSHROOMS. The whole wiping thing is a myth that just won't die. Alton Brown even did an episode on it where he SOAKED them, weighting before and after.... It really is fine to rub a mushroom under running water to rinse away the dirt.

                                          1. re: sandylc

                                            I saw that one, too -- and that was the end of my faffing around wiping them with a cloth.

                                            1. re: sandylc

                                              I'm not saying that they definitely retain water. I am satin that the finish ser product for me is terrible.

                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                I've always washed my mushrooms - under a running tap and even dunking them in a tub of water afterwards. I've never understood that "wipe off only" thing. I've not seen that AB episode but have never noticed any deleterious effects from washing the mushrooms, unless I leave them too long in that tub of water.

                                                1. re: huiray

                                                  that was the gist of the AB episode -- unless you basically just leave them sitting in water for extended periods of time (like hours), they don't absorb enough water to make any difference at all.

                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                    Thanks for the summary.

                                                    Then, of course, there are the dehydrated musrooms (dried shiitakes, dried porcinis, etc etc) where you DO leave them in water to absorb lots and lots of water, and if you don't let them rehydrate properly you get "hard"/tough areas which are simply not good eating. :-)

                                                  2. re: huiray

                                                    I've always washed them, too. I very much appreciate AB for backing me up against acquaintances who looked down their superior noses at me for not having a precious little "mushroom brush". Oh, and I once saw Jacques Pepin making fun of the mushroom wipers.....that was funny.

                                                    1. re: sandylc

                                                      If I recall, Pepin doesn't wash at all, correct?

                                                      1. re: MGZ

                                                        He does wash,a quick rinse,dunk into water,shake and onto a towel to dry/drain if needed.He was doing a demo decades ago,dunk,rinse,shake and into a napkin lined salad spinner they went,fast and effective.

                                                  3. re: sandylc

                                                    I'm another that now washes mushrooms thanks to the Alton episode. No more damp paper towel method for me no matter what anybody says.

                                                    1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

                                                      I'm so glad to hear everyone's input on this! I might give the peeling a try - but now I don't feel so bad about taking so long washing the mushrooms (or my lack of success with the damp-paper-towel method). I might just put mushrooms with leeks in the "takes forever to prep" category.
                                                      My leeks? Always FILTHY. What have they been doing? Playing muddy football?

                                                      1. re: khh1138

                                                        I cook a lot of mushrooms and washed mushrooms just do not turn out as well as paper towel rubbed ones. I have seen the Alton Brown episode and understand the logic but it doesn't work out in real life. If you are browning your mushrooms they need to be as dry as possible to get the proper sear. Mushrooms already contain water and you need to be correct with your technique to release it at the proper time ie only add salt after they are browned.

                                                        To illustrate this point a contestant won a Top Chef challenge a few weeks ago because they put their mushrooms in the oven to slightly dehydrate them before sauteeing them. Tom went on and on about how good they were and how the chef really knew the correct method for cooking them.

                                                        As to leeks, they are grown in Sandy soil and the layer push up through it when sprouting.

                                                        1. re: MVNYC

                                                          Ah, popping them in the oven to dry a little might be the way to go for me. Thanks, great idea.

                                                          1. re: MVNYC

                                                            Drying them in the oven is a great idea...

                                                            However, I must persist on the washing point. The tiny bit of water that might remain on the surface of a washed mushroom is insignificant when compared to the high water content of the mushrooms themselves (90% in button).

                                                            1. re: sandylc

                                                              That bit of water absolutely matters. Since as you say so much of mushrooms are themselves water you need them to be absolutely dry when you add them to a pan. Cooking mushrooms is a fairly precise operation. You need a smoking hot pan to ensure a proper seal and you need to salt as soon as they have browned. That excess water interferes with this.

                                                  4. I wash all produce that do not get peeled, and half the time (when I am not too lazy) I rinse the ones that need to be cut/peeled on the chopping board.

                                                    I have a special produce detergent that claims to remove chemical residues, and I use it for non-organic produce to give myself some better peace of mind, especially for things with a huge surface area that we eat a lot of - such as grapes, herbs, celery etc. However, at the back of my mind, I know it may or may not be useful, and I will never know.

                                                    I still wash organic produce in water to get the grime and dirt off, trying to tell myself that whatever organic chemicals they use are less harmful. It is a pain to use detergent, let it soak a bit and then rinse it off.

                                                    The rinse water, if I did not use detergent, goes to my garden too.

                                                    1. Never wash anything unless visibly dirty. I don't even wash eggs from the farm stand. I do wash spinach from the farmstand since it's a bit gritty.
                                                      Still alive and kicking.

                                                      1. I wash everything except bananas, mushrooms (I wipe with a damp cloth or paper towel) and pineapple, which is too rough and prickly on the outside to wash comfortably. I wash citrus fruit before peeling, even though there probably isn't a good reason to do so, just because it's easy and quick.

                                                        Oh, I don't wash onions, garlic or shallots either, unless they look really dirty.

                                                        1. it doesn't matter where it comes from, whether it was supposedly pre-washed, or if i'm going to discard the peel or skin - i still wash/clean everything except banana, garlic, shallot & onion.

                                                          1. I rinse fruits and veggies.

                                                            However, using the logic from the "don't wash chicken" thread" all we're doing is deluding ourselves since it's just water. You're not killing any bacteria or viruses on the fruit and veggies.

                                                            Also, if you're buying fruits and vegetables that need washing you're buying from the wrong place. lol. I'm just ribbing ya'll.

                                                            1. I wash everything, peeled or not.

                                                              1. I wash all fruits and veggies but not because of any concerns about dirt or pesticide. I just don't want the germs from all those strangers who've touched them before me...same reason I wipe down the grocery cart handle.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. I wash everything except thick-skinned fruits like oranges etc. Thin-skinned fruits get washed. All vegetables and herbs get washed, even herbs I grow myself. Many times I would wash the grit off things like leafy vegetables then soak them in a tub of water. That also definitely helps to rehydrate them (after I pluck off or cut off the ends of the stems) even if they were freshly harvested.

                                                                  When I was growing up my mother would soak vegetables, especially leafy ones, in a tub of water with some potassium or sodium permanganate added to the water. It was fascinating to see the stuff submerged in this deep purple water. Of course, they were rinsed/washed with fresh clean water after the soak.

                                                                  I've never eaten "bagged salad" at home nor bought any. The cafeteria at work and at other run-of-the-mill places (salad bars) certainly use the pre-bagged stuff - without washing, most of the time. I dislike these salad bars. More than once where I did decide to have "some salad" I had to pick around stuff in the salad greens bowl on the bar avoiding stuff that was clearly turning "mushy" and slimy. Sometimes I just had to abandon my attempt to "eat some salad".

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: huiray

                                                                    do you soak broccoli and cauliflower? It's like a forest and I always feel a wash isnt enough to get what may be hiding in there. I do it often and the amount of little buggers that pop out are quite surprising.

                                                                    1. re: majordanby

                                                                      Not always. Frequently they're preety clean and I'm content with power-rinsing them. At other times I rinse, then break them up into florets of my desired size and plonk them in my tub of water for a short while. I myself don't remember an occasion when swarms of critters came floating up. :-)

                                                                  2. Totally horrible here, but I don't wash any fruits.

                                                                    For veggies, I scrub potatoes to remove the dirt, make sure to get dirf off of scallions but don't really wash - more like wipe, rinse heads of cauliflower and broccoli, rinse celery, but beyond that...not many others (unless there is obvious dirt on them). Don't like mushrooms so no issue there! Heads of lettuce - depends on the type. If it's really leafy, I'll rinse the leaves. If it's dense, I'll just peel off the outside leaves and go from there.

                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                    1. re: jbsiegel

                                                                      the lettuce I grow in my garden needs to be rinsed...nobody really wants to sandblast their dental work.

                                                                      and I have a rather healthy population of slugs...who are not invited to dinner.

                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                        <nobody really wants to sandblast their dental work.>

                                                                        Ha ha ha. I never thought of in these terms. You are awesome.

                                                                      2. re: jbsiegel

                                                                        I don't wash fruit either.

                                                                        I avoid buying veggies that need to be washed, I buy mostly frozen. I buy fresh tomatoes but I don't wash them. Carrots I eat out of the bag. Romaine I buy washed and bagged. Same with radishes.

                                                                        I am probably 3 minutes away from dropping dead.

                                                                        1. re: redfish62

                                                                          I am SO right there with you. I buy frozen peas/corn/etc. I don't wash tomatoes (generally) either. I buy English cucumbers (in that plastic wrap thing) and don't wash or peel them. Eat baby carrots right out of the bag. Regular carrots, I peel, but don't do any washing. Onions I peel, but then use the same knife I used to peel them (so, yes, it touched the outside "gunk") to cut them up.

                                                                          I figure we get enough dirt, etc. in our systems just living, that a little more isn't going to do me in. That five second rule is in FULL effect in my house!

                                                                          1. re: jbsiegel

                                                                            Hah! I'll go to (oh no) seven seconds on my own germ-o-meter!

                                                                      3. I use to wonder the same thing till I saw a kid touching all the avocados in the grocery store one day. Really grossed me out and couldn't even buy one that day. Soo, yes I do wash all my fruits and vegetables even my frozen berries that are supposably organic and triple washed. Sometimes I even put dish soap and wash the apples I buy since I like to eat the skin and think also of times where the apples have fallen on the grocery floor when I reached for one.
                                                                        Just recently I had this same conversation with one of the workers in the produce dpt at Whole Foods and she suggested I use the vegetable/fruit wash. Since I was away from home was planning on getting it this week since I'm home now but like the idea of making that Vinegar and Water Spray that Chemicalkinetics mentioned above too.

                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                        1. re: chocolate

                                                                          <think also of times where the apples have fallen on the grocery floor when I reached for one. >

                                                                          I have literally seen fruits fell into a gutter, and the worker picked them up and put them into the box. Yes, a real gutter on the street. They were unpacking from the truck and unloading to the store.


                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                            That is a scary! Definitely wash!!! and make sure you keep your immune system strong.....

                                                                            Just reinforces you don't know all that your food has been exposed to before you buy it and take it home. Same goes for when you eat out at restaurants and the corners they cut.

                                                                            1. re: chocolate

                                                                              Same goes for when you eat out at restaurants and the corners they cut.
                                                                              precisely why i never order lemon or lime for my drink unless i know for sure they've been washed before slicing.

                                                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                Yes, me too. I saw that on Dr Oz one day when he had dirty secrets revealed about restaurants and that was one of them. Soo sad.

                                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                  Or even if it was washed how clean is that little bar side cutting board?From what I've seen over the decades it's not clean in the truly washed sense.

                                                                            2. re: chocolate

                                                                              What really grosses me out in grocery stores is if the cashier seems at all sick. The concept of those germs getting on my stuff bothers me. At that point, fruits and veggies are bagged so they are relatively safe, but still...

                                                                              1. There's an awful lot of water being used here. Is that a concern? As a Californian who's taken short showers (resentfully) since the Seventies, it is to me.

                                                                                7 Replies
                                                                                1. re: monfrancisco

                                                                                  You know, I kinda felt the same way until something I saw and experienced. The city I live in, in S Cal, allowed a large, gushing leak in the street to continue for 2 weeks, and I'm not exaggerating. I kept track of the time/day it started and the time it took to repair. The city explained, after my shock, that the city 'builds into our bills, the waste expense for things like this that happen. They were fully aware of the water waste. The water department had to wait for other utilites to check their own wires, equipment, etc., before they could start their own work. I take nice, long showers and I wash my fruit and vegetables thoroughly.

                                                                                  1. re: latindancer

                                                                                    I'm hip. I've seen a little park being automatically-sprinkled during a thrashing rain storm. The vagaries of water usage policies in CA are enough to make one cry salt-water tears. I might take a twenty-minute shower tomorrow, and then wash my produce. Bottoms up!

                                                                                    1. re: latindancer

                                                                                      We're always on water rationing here in LA -- my lemons and oranges in my yard can feel the difference, definitely. I don't wash my car and for most of the year it wears a fine patina of golden pollen. But I wash everything I eat, except bananas, oranges, and coconuts.
                                                                                      We had one of these gushers on our street last year too! For a WHOLE WEEK last summer water was gushing down our street. Everyone in our neighborhood called and complained about it.
                                                                                      Then this fall, one day I washed down some muddy storm-muck from my driveway with my hose (for less than one minute) and from out of nowhere a city official pulled up in front of my house and threatened me with a ticket.

                                                                                      1. re: khh1138

                                                                                        You have *got* to be kidding? Did you remind him of the gusher?

                                                                                        I'm curious why the city officials aren't running around ticketing all the gardeners in every neighborhood in LA?? They could be bringing a sh*#tload of revenue from those guys.

                                                                                        1. re: latindancer

                                                                                          I know, right? This was on a weekend, and the guy confessed that they do their best business trolling (I mean patrolling) neighborhoods writing up people doing weekend projects without permits and watering violations. He let me off with a warning. He also told me to trim my trees back from my roof. The same trees I'm not allowed to remove because they're protected - and one is leaning on my house! (Live oaks). Oh, to live in LA. I do love it here. Restaurants like you wouldn't believe! Beautiful produce year-round!

                                                                                    2. re: monfrancisco

                                                                                      i'm a SoCal resident too, and i wash all my produce but i don't waste much water to do it. i like the soak & swish method - just drop it in a bowl of water and swish it around or rub to remove any grit. you can do a lot at once and it doesn't waste nearly as much water as running the tap.

                                                                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                        This is my method, too. I take a perverse pleasure out of seeing the grit collect in the bottom of the bowl. It reinforces my behavior, too - makes me realize I really do need to do it. A big white bowl is best for maximum visibility of the detritus.

                                                                                    3. I used to wash everything in cold tap water - I always kind of doubted that it was doing much good, but I did it anyway.
                                                                                      Since learning from both McGee (On Food and Cooking) and Myhrvold (Modernist Cuisine) that briefly washing berries and letuce in hot water will actually extend their shelf life, I now wash everything in hot water followed by a cold water "rinse".

                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

                                                                                        ". . .briefly washing berries and lettuce in hot water will actually extend their shelf life."

                                                                                        Does this mean that you wash produce before storing it, rather than when you are ready to use it? My experience with berries has been the opposite of yours. Berries mold easily and have a short shelf life. Getting any water on them before storage seems to make them mold even faster.

                                                                                        1. re: cheesemaestro

                                                                                          Yes, for produce that's going in the fridge I wash it all before storing it wraped in a damp paper towel inside an unsealed plastic bag.

                                                                                          As for the berries, apparently the theory is that the hot water washing will "suppress mold growth on berries".
                                                                                          Below is a video of McGee demonstrating the method and his New York Times article recounting his "thermotherapy" experiment.
                                                                                          I thought his final step was to place the washed (and then dried) berries in a sealed jar, but I can't find any confirmation on that at the moment



                                                                                          In what I believe is the press relaese announcing the release of 'Modernist Cuisine', Myhrvold says that berry life is extended from 7 to 20 days, and lettuce doesn't wilt with hot water washing.


                                                                                          1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

                                                                                            Very interesting. If Harold McGee is recommending that berries be immersed briefly in hot water to extend their shelf life, there has to be truth to it, although berries usually don't last in my house more than a day or two before we've eaten them all!

                                                                                            The tip about lettuce is also intriguing, if counterintuitive. Lettuce leaves that have gone limp can often be firmed up by plunging them into ice water. I would have thought that hot water would have the opposite effect, but I'll have to try it.

                                                                                            1. re: cheesemaestro

                                                                                              A couple of truths:

                                                                                              Thruth #1 - Berries don't last long in our house either. So, while I do rinse them, the McGee method is still on my to do list if I ever have a surplus.

                                                                                              Truth # 2 - Thanks to this thread, I've spent the last few days experimenting with my "lettuce revival" technique. Early results indicate that limp (seen better days) romaine lettuce briefly rinsed under hot tap water followed by a cold rinse revives more easily than my old method of soaking in a cold water/lemon juice mix.
                                                                                              I don't have enough data for a definitive conclusion, but as soon as I get some more limp lettuce I'll do some more testing.

                                                                                          2. re: cheesemaestro

                                                                                            The hot water/ berry trick totally works. I gently spin them in my salad spinner after, and store them with a dry paper towel.

                                                                                        2. for those of you who wash "EVERYTHING" -- berries too? raspberries are so delicate, don't they get crushed?

                                                                                          am lazy and don't wash much produce. greens for sure (after giving myself food poisoning from NOT washing muddy cilantro), leeks and sandy veggies and potatoes. stuff from the farmer's market that has visible grit. that's about it.

                                                                                          so many non-organic farmers use systemic pesticides, i feel like a little water isn't going to do anything.

                                                                                          and yeah, the chicken thread, lol. ;)

                                                                                          10 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                            raspberries just need to be handled gently and they come through washing intact.

                                                                                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                              I wash all my berries, when I do get berries. There is no difficulty in doing so. I don't understand how raspberries would get "crushed" by doing so.

                                                                                              1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                I put berries in a small strainer and then the strainer in a bowl of water. You can swish them around carefully and not break them up. Lift the strainer to drain, change the water and do it again and then rest the strainer over the empty bowl to let them drain.

                                                                                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                  Thanks! Thought I was a minority of one. Off to research systemic pesticides now.

                                                                                                  1. re: monfrancisco

                                                                                                    Yes! It is clear to me that the soil is full of chemicals and the plants drinks the chemicals through the rain/soil. How these chemicals, which are an innate part of the plant and its fruits, can possibly be washed off, is a mystery to me! However, I am sure that things are also sprayed directly on the fruits/veg that CAN be somewhat washed off.

                                                                                                        1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                          my point being i don't think spray-pesticides are totally water-soluble. if they were, it would be a complete and utter waste of money by farmers.

                                                                                                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                            Oh, good....I was trying not to be argumentative.....!

                                                                                                  2. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                    The list of systemic pesticides for "edible crops" is tiny and has ratings for X days(long) to harvest,maybe less than 1% of whats used.

                                                                                                    Reason to wash,everything The stuff that has a residual effect,a sticking/wetting agent,over the top sprays,99% or more of non-organic use.Even when days to harvest regs have been exceeded doesn't mean 100% gone or inert,just close.
                                                                                                    Organic,listed for use may include scull&crossbones products that break down,become inert etc FAST.Spray or dust at dusk/predawn and gone after a couple or hours of sunlight.No harm to bees.
                                                                                                    All rated fungicides require a wash off even with plenty of rain and harvest dates met.

                                                                                                    Berry wash,I use the insert in my salad spinner to prevent bruising,may even give them a short spin after with paper towel or napkin bumpers in the bowl.

                                                                                                  3. Pretty much wash everything, except bananas, melons, onions and bagged pre-washed salad leaves.

                                                                                                    1. 90% of my veggies come from an CSA so I sure do wash/rinse everything. The stuff comes right out of the ground with nothing more than a cursory shake/rinse.

                                                                                                      My fruits I rinse/wash too except for those in self sealed containers like bananas. But I do have to say some of this behavior is new. After the "sampling produce" thread I had a chance to talk to a WF manager and needless to say I am a little more cautious now.

                                                                                                      7 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                        What did the WF manager say that made you more cautious?

                                                                                                        1. re: CanadaGirl

                                                                                                          The containers that fruit comes in are used multiple times so good fruit is stored with rotting. They pallets can sit in trucks for day, can often sit outside on loading docks, unattended and open to infestation.

                                                                                                          Customers routinely cough on them, handle them with dirty hands, drop them on the floor. There are not enough employees to catch every incident.

                                                                                                          Don't get me started on what he told me customers routinely do at the salad bar! That is more of full time job than worrying about the occasional grape being sampled!

                                                                                                          1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                            I witnessed a guy scoop tuna salad from a salad bar with his bare hand as he walked by it one night. People can be really really gross.

                                                                                                              1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                                                                                Everytime I see that now I think of the story about the guy who did that with a Ghost Chili. The screams that came outa him were chilling, apparently, and he learned all about karma in the jail cell.

                                                                                                                1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                                  I am not sure which is worse,the re-used containers or the fumigants used between loads in the refrigerated trailers and sea containers.Often used for proteins as well as fruits and vegetables.Alternating loads for never empty.

                                                                                                            1. I wash everything. I keep a little spritz bottle by the sink with white vinegar & water and spray the 'hard' things like apples, pears, peppers, zucchini, etc. then rinse them while scrubbing with a mushroom brush. Dirt and pesticides aside, think about how many hands have touched what you're about to eat. For things that get doused, it's a small amount of vinegar in the bath (grapes, berries, broccoli, etc. and then a quick rinse. Vinegar is a natural cleaner/disinfectant. This method will also extend the life of berries, preventing fuzz!

                                                                                                              1. I wash all fruits and vegetables--more asiduously if they'll be eaten raw. For fruits and vegetables that grow on the ground and tend to come in contact with manure (pig excrement, for example)--the notorious ones are lettuce, spinach, strawberries, melons, I add a capfull of germ killing liquid to the water that they sell here in Chile. If that's not available, then some bleech (not much, of course). This prevents ecoli, salmonella, cholera, etc... I'm surprised they don't sell this stuff in the States. But, then again, people have become complacent about food cleanliness in the US.

                                                                                                                19 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: Wawsanham

                                                                                                                  "But, then again, people have become complacent about food cleanliness in the US."

                                                                                                                  Do you really think that? I mean, read this thread. I'm of the mindset that healthy people don't have to get weird about overwashing anything, but it seems that most folks in the US disagree with me. I just ate a piece of bread that fell on my studio floor - I'll let you know when they let me out of the hospital.

                                                                                                                  1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                    Yes, I think a lot of people have become complacent in the US about food cleanliness. If they used "germalimp" (the stuff) or bleech, the ecoli and salmonella outbreaks wouldn't be happening. In Chile, these outbreaks are quite uncommon. There was a listeria outbreak due to meat and cheese--so not washable in the same way. I think it is a cultural thing: Chileans don't assume that the store-bought, or market-bought food is clean. Some people won't even eat raw strawberries, always cooking them.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Wawsanham

                                                                                                                      "Chileans don't assume that the store-bought, or market-bought food is clean"

                                                                                                                      Sucks for them. I don't have a problem with the food I buy that way in the US. As I posted above, unless something has visible dirt, I rarely even rinse it. Are people in Chile that sickly? I mean, bleach? On food? It makes me lose my appetite to just smell that sh*t.

                                                                                                                      1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                        30 or 40 years ago, cholera broke out more frequently. Also, hygiene standards were much worse. Chile has become a more developed-level nation in the last 10-20 years, so I guess the memories of these hygene problems related to poor sanitation are fresher. In the US, that stage of development was, I suppose, 100 years ago. Besides, about the bleach, just a drop, then rinse with bleachless water; you don't taste it, and you can be sure you won't get sick.

                                                                                                                        1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                          Much of what you don't wash was often washed in a weak chlorine solution before packing for shipment.

                                                                                                                          1. re: lcool

                                                                                                                            I'm cool with that. I suppose it's really just the smell of the bleach that eviscerates my appetite and turns me off to the notion so much.

                                                                                                                            1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                              If they do it right all of the chlorine and odor have evaporated before it gets to us.I find the smell shirty and have a nose that can smell it the proverbial mile away.Came home with a bag of bleached flour ONCE.I could smell the bleaching agent opening the bag.Just can't get passed the trapped smell in so many pre-washed and or sealed things.

                                                                                                                    2. re: Wawsanham


                                                                                                                      Surprised they don't sell WHAT stuff in the US?
                                                                                                                      Does everyone in Chile wash their produce the way you do?
                                                                                                                      People have become complacent IN WHAT WAY about food cleanliness?
                                                                                                                      If you live in Chile, how do you know what people in the US do about food "cleanliness"?

                                                                                                                      1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                        See my above response. This product is called "germalimp" and is sold all over. Other people use bleech. I lived in the US until the early 90s, and have been back for periodic visits. I have tried to find these food disinfectants, but to no success. Now, of course, I admit that it is a chemical germ-killing product, so I always wash off with clear water after that.

                                                                                                                      2. re: Wawsanham

                                                                                                                        My grocery store sells several products for washing vegetables and fruits. But bleach? I wouldn't clean my food with something so toxic.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Hobbert

                                                                                                                          You most likely breath more chlorine while taking a shower. It doesn't take more than a drop or two in a quart of water

                                                                                                                          1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                            Go crazy with the bleach rinsing. But it's not for me.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Hobbert

                                                                                                                              Chlorine at a low level is a very common wash between the field and consumer,almost as common in poultry processing.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Hobbert

                                                                                                                                I'm not suggesting you use anything you don't want to but just to put things in perspective...

                                                                                                                                Chlorine is toxic but so is fluorine which is in most toothpastes in in the drinking water of many cities. They are both halogens.

                                                                                                                                Many things we ingest and breath are toxic but at very low levels the toxicity is not an issue. Oxygen is very toxic so trying to avoid all toxic substances is not advisable.

                                                                                                                                1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                                  I like to imagine I have perspective, thanks. As an aside, I filter the fluorine out of my drinking/cooking water.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Hobbert

                                                                                                                                    Me, too. And no flouride in the toothpaste at my house.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                      Yup. I think everybody's aware at this point in life that there are lots of chemicals in and around what we eat, drink, breathe, drive, wear, etc. For me personally, I try not to add any extra. I'm not fanatical about it, but I do make a bit of an effort.

                                                                                                                                2. re: Hobbert

                                                                                                                                  It is a tradeoff thing. It is completely up to you. Drinking bleach is probably not the best thing, but getting food poison is worse. So let's say if you are stuck some where is the Congo jungle and your water source is a mud hole.


                                                                                                                                  You are better off adding chloride to the water and drink it, instead of drinking it straight. Bacteria infection can kill you in a day or two. Bleach water won't. It is a pretty standard survive skill/tool:

                                                                                                                                  "Almost all laundry bleaches, whether Clorox or any other brand, have 5.5% Sodium Hypoclorite, which is a suitable purification chemical for water"


                                                                                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                    Ok. If I was in the Congo or needed "survival skills", I would consider drinking bleach water. Fortunately, I live in Northern VA. In a house.

                                                                                                                          2. I'm pretty lazy when it comes to washing fruits and veggies. It's not the task of washing, it's the task of DRYING and the consequences if they're not dry (soggy sandwich, dressing running off). So the veggies that probably need washing the most, such as salad greens (for the pesticides and unwanted goodies that can lurk in between the leaves), often go in my belly unwashed.

                                                                                                                            On the flip side, veggies that are going to be cooked in a wet environment (into a pot of soup or getting steamed) *may* get washed but usually only when they are visibly dirty/sticky/dusty.

                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: seamunky

                                                                                                                              Maybe you should ask Santa for a salad spinner!

                                                                                                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                hahaha. I have one but it still doesn't get it as dry as I'd like. And when I'm adding lettuce to a sandwich, I can't be bothered to dry the lettuce. Washing is easy.

                                                                                                                              2. re: seamunky

                                                                                                                                Perfectly stated. The drying is a much more daunting task than the washing. The spinning, the toweling...I'm eating now...

                                                                                                                              3. I spent 30 minutes washing and drying, before roasting, little 2 1/2 inch carrots a few days ago. I leave a bit of the stem on for color. I purchased them from my farmer's market and they were dirty. The brown dirt around the stems, had I not washing/dried them, would have made my guests think twice about my kitchen and it would have grossed me out.
                                                                                                                                Cleansed and dried they were beautiful.

                                                                                                                                1. Thought of this thread right AFTER i cut into an avocado for last nights salad. They'll get washed from now on.