Washing fruits and vegetables

Is it really necessary and if so, how?

I can’t imagine that running a little cold water over some blueberries really accomplishes anything.

Oh it very much does something - it ruins the blueberries.

To clarify: I’ll gladly wash a nectarine or an apple, just in case there’s some dirt or other easy-to-clean stuff on the skin. But berries? Unless you wash right before eating, all it does is cause them to decay faster. There’s simply no way to dry small berries like blueberries or raspberries, and putting them in the fridge while wet just ends up in a mess a few days later.

It’s even worse if you’re planning on freezing them. Washed berries = big frozen clump of frozen berries.

Usually what I do with berries is just go through them and visually inspect them. I always find a few stems, leaves, dead bugs, etc, especially with wild berries. Is it a pain to do it that way? Sure, but not THAT much of a pain. And it results in fairly clean berries.

OTOH sometimes it is very wise to rinse off berries…

I have a spot in my yard where I have allowed wild blackberries to take over. Occasionally, if the birds and other critters don’t beat me to them, I can harvest several cups of berries very quickly. Unfortunately, they are quite often crawling with tiny red mites. I usually rinse them off and dry them as best as possible in the salad spinner (gently as possible) then put them on a clean dish towel.

In addition to the above, if they are bought from the grocery store, it is probably not only necessary, but required. You never know what is on those or how they were handled.

My rule of thumb is that I wash anything that isn’t “organic” and doesn’t get peeled. So I wash apples (if I don’t intend to peel them) and tomatoes, but not oranges and bananas.

Fruit and veggies come from all over the hemisphere, obviously. The quality control is not going to be consistent. Pickers are bound to have to relieve themselves and I really doubt that there are porta-potties in all locales. Animal excrement, insects, and just plain dirt can be present. Whenever there is an outbreak of E. coli, it’s often traced to contaminated produce.

The minimum for me is to run things under water before using, especially if it’s to be eaten raw. This includes things like oranges and melons, if they’re to be cut, as a knife will carry surface contaminants into the flesh of the fruit. Overseas, we dipped almost everything in a diluted bleach bath before using.

All this may seem excessive and fussy, but if you’ve ever had a virulent stomach bug like shigella, salmonella, etc., you’ll understand why I do it.

How do y’all wash your berries? I just take a handful and rub them together very gently for ~10 seconds under running water, hoping the friction of the rubbing and the water will wash off any bacteria, but I don’t know if this is the best way to do it.

All melons get washed with water and dish soap prior to cutting for reasons mentioned above. Same with oranges, mangoes, papaya and other fruits where the skin is not eaten. Apples and pears just get a rinse, and as stated, never rinse berries until just prior to use. Grapes get rinsed and then put in a bowl in the fridge - they never last long in our home anyway.

Veggies - all get at least a rinse just before using, and sometimes a wash with dish soap (carrots, potatoes). A lot of pre-packaged salad veggies are advertised as multiple-rinsed so you are supposed to be able to use right out of the bag - I always rinse them anyway just prior to use. The one exception is mushrooms - if they touch any water they turn into rubber. Interesting, considering where they grow.

You also want to wash off any pesticide residue on the outside of the fruit or vegetable.

My mum used to wash the berries and then put them in a colander inside a larger bowl, so the water could drain off.
I don’t know if this really helped or not.

I very much doubt that rinsing under plain water does very much to remove either bacteria or pesticide residues; unless the item is something that can be scrubbed or washed with soap.

Rinsing dislodges grit etc - so can be useful on things like lettuce, but if it’s something like blackberries or raspberries, if they actually need washing, they’re ruined already.

Yeah, but it gives the warm fuzzy that it is now “clean”, and that is all that matters.

I worked picking apples in NZ for a few months: we had a toilet out in the field, but no tap (or alcohol gel). This was considered, amongst my co-workers, to be better facilities than average.
I wash my fruit now.

What Chefguy said. A hispanic housekeeper for a friend washed every thing in lightly soapy water, rinsed and dried. She’d had friends who worked in the fields. And taking a break to trek to a port-a-potty meant less production, less money.

This made me laugh. Not quite sure why. :smiley:
At the risk of sounding like a cretin, I’m going to ‘fess up to eating my berries straight from the package. :eek: I know, I know; but I’ve been doing it all my life and nothing’s happened, so unless there is something visibly in need of rinsing; Imma keep on livin’ life on the edge…:cool:

Organic doesn’t mean they don’t use organic pesticides.

Washing is necessary in my opinion. In fact, the thought of not washing grosses me out.

I tend to wash produce in hot water, followed by a cold rinse. I frequently use soap, but not always.

If you saw the conditions in some of the fields and processing centers I’m sure you would wash the hell out of them.

You should wash the organic stuff, too. The biggest risk of not washing produce is food-borne illness. E. coli is plenty organic.

Unless you see visible shmutz or birdshit, rinsing fruit and vegetables won’t remove the threat of bacterial contamination. It might make you feel better, but it is all in your head.