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How to clean Fruits and Vegetables
From the farm to the table, our food passes through different processes and different hands, and it’s important to clean it well. If consuming inorganic produce is unavoidable, washing the vegetables and fruit well, and peeling them if possible could help reduce the surface pesticide content.
Step 1: Choosing and pruning
Cut away any damaged or bruised areas before preparing or eating. Fresh fruit or vegetable that looks rotten should be discarded. Even if you have to peel the produce before eating, it is important to wash it first. Scrub firm produce like melons and cucumbers with a clean brush.
Step 2: The washing process
1. Using Detergent: Simply washing with water will only clean the produce of dirt and grime, not chemicals. Using a food safe detergent to wash the fruits and vegetables can lift some pesticide residue. Do remember to rinse well with plain water to remove traces of detergent! Nowadays, there are specific cleaners to wash fruits and vegetable; these are more or less as effective as regular detergents – the only caveat is to rinse well.
2. Potassium Permanganate Solution: Mix enough Potassium Permanganate in water to make it a light pink, soak fruits/ vegetables in this for 5 minutes, and rinse well. This will effectively remove pesticides, bacteria and other pests. Too much potassium permanganate can be harmful, so be careful that the water is just light pink tinted, and not dark.
3. Using Vinegar: Take a cup Vinegar and three cups of water, add a spoon of baking soda and keep in a spray can. This is useful in removing wax and bacteria, especially from ‘over-glossy’ produce such and apples, eggplant etc. For best results, spray on the fruits/ vegetables in the vinegar-water solution, let stand for 30 minutes and then rinse well with plain water.
4. Garbage Enzyme: Do check out Ayurveda specialist Dr. Manju Bhargava’s recipe for a natural wash for cleaning fruits and vegetables. http://www.esvasa.com/?q=interviewManjuBhargava
5. Salt Bath: Wash your fruits and vegetables in a sink full of water in which a tablespoon of salt is added with a lime squeezed in it. Allow the fruits to float in the sink for 5-7 minutes before rinsing them with plain water and then draining them in a colander.
Step 3: Peeling/ Removing the Outer Layers
Dry the rinsed fruit/ vegetables with a clean cloth before using them. Even thought the outer most layers of fruits and vegetables contain a high nutrient value, if you are eating conventional produce, do peel it, or discard outer layers where peeling is not possible (lettuce/ cabbage etc). These outer layers probably contain the highest concentration of chemicals. For loose leaves like spinach or certain lettuce, each individual leaf needs to be washed well.
Follow the above steps, and you’ll ensure that the fruits and vegetables you eat are cleaner and safer for your family!