Produce Hygiene

’Tis the season for indulging in springtime produce. But while spring specialties (like nutrient-rich strawberries, artichokes, and cherries) burst onto your palate with bold flavor, they often carry microbial passengers that could make you sick. Even organic fruits and veggies, especially when eaten raw, must be cleaned properly to remove as many surface germs as possible. But do you need an expensive produce wash… or can a simple wipe with your shirt do the trick?

The editors of Cook’s Illustrated conducted a study to help answer that question. Turns out your best bet in removing microbes is good old-fashioned vinegar water. The solution of 1 part white vinegar to 3 parts water, followed by a rinse of pure water, was enough to wipe away 98% of bacteria — better than a scrub brush, plain water, and antibacterial soap (which isn’t recommended anyway).

Other factors to consider:

Soak fruits and veggies first for about 2 minutes before rinsing to help dislodge particles

Slice both ends off the fruit or vegetable to remove the areas that generally gather the most microbes

Gut out the bruised spots; they serve as a breeding ground for harmful bacteria

Use a fresh paper towel to remove any germs still clinging for dear life.

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