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Nov 29, 2012 10:09 PM

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 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, 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.

 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 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.