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Margaret Pilgrim

How do you wash delicate fruits and vegetables?

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We have been living in a fool's paradise for years. We frequently buy fruit at a farm, e.g., cherries, and happily eat them en route home without washing them. Same for apricots and berries. We have never experienced an intestinal bug from this, but I realize that we are on borrowed time.

Once home, I give them a good rinse and put them in a pierced bowl. I realize that this is totally inadequate to do more than remove some dust.

How do you handle fruits and vegetables, given the not infrequent e-coli scares that have hit the country?


eGullet member #80.

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I'm not sure there's a lot of e.coli risk w tree-fruit. Pesticides, yes. Other bugs, from birds, maybe.


"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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Apparently my childhood should have killed me - I remember summer days of picking blackberries straight of the bramble and eating them, and "pick-your-own" raspberries and strawberries was mostly about how many you could eat on the way round!

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I give purchased fruit a vinegar soak and rinse. Can't remember the precise ratio of vinegar to water (1 to 3, I think?), but CI tested it, and found it quite effective.

Wild fruit I've usually eaten right off the plant, no washing, unless the hands that picked it were unwashed.


Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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Fortunately, ecoli 057 wasnt around when I was a kid.

Commercial stuff that is near the ground gets washed. Tree and bramble output again is more about bugs and pesticides - usually mutually exclusive problems.

Homegrown - depends. Stuff pulled from the soil gets washed because all the world is a litterbox. Tomatoes get dusted at most.


"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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Where are you buying your fruit?
From individual farmers/orchards in the (California) Central Valley, eg, Lodi and Stockton.

eGullet member #80.

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Put simply, the inherent problem is that of unwashed hands picking the produce after bathroom breaks.


eGullet member #80.

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a quick rinse is all I do. You can't wash off bugs and I'm not gonna treat them with chemicals.

Same goes for all veggies and salads and fruits at the supermarket. Somebody picked it, somebody packed it, somebody shipped it, somebody unpacked it and stacked it on the shelf. Did every somebody wash hands? Yeah, right.

I do wash lemons/limes with a veggie wash if I want the zest, to get the wax and what not off.

Other than that, never had a problem in my life, nor did my wife or kids. I'm sure it's more "dangerous" to work in an office with 20 people...


"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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Nothing can clean as well as an ultrasonic cleaner + cleaning solution.

dcarch.

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a quick rinse is all I do. You can't wash off bugs and I'm not gonna treat them with chemicals.

Same goes for all veggies and salads and fruits at the supermarket. Somebody picked it, somebody packed it, somebody shipped it, somebody unpacked it and stacked it on the shelf. Did every somebody wash hands? Yeah, right.

. . . .

If by 'bugs' you mean the pathogens that end up on people's hands when they take a rushed bathroom break, and think 'fuck hand washing', well, YES, you can at least significantly minimize their number with really simple, safe practices.

Working in the kitchen involves the routine use of many chemicals. Salt is a chemical, baking soda and baking powder are chemicals, alcohols are chemicals, and obviously, so is vinegar. But presumaby, you do at least occasionally use vinegar, and CI/ATK found that a 1:3 (by volume) vinegar:water solution 'reduced 98% of surface bacteria' (CI, January & February 2010). The fewer bacteria, the more likely you immune system+luck will make it possible for your body to handle the outliers that aren't destroyed/removed.

So you are worried about poopy hands?

Yep. Apparently, plenty of people think hand washing is something the grownups make kids do just to show who's boss (as opposed to acknowledging the fact that pathogens are a primary source of food-borne disease, rather than unbalanced humours/the wrath of a diety), and pass on it every chance they get. So, even if they manage to keep their own fecal matter off their hands, their hands can still easily pick up all sorts of fun bacteria, since the flush knob/button/lever (among other things) tends to be contaminated.


Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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While my question was formed around the purchase of farm-to-you produce, there is at least equal need to consider green grocer produce. I frequently shop in an ethnic area where the cultural norm is for the buyer to pick up and visually inspect each piece of produce, handling it at length to see every surface. A single piece of fruit may be handled by many scores of hands before winding up in my sack.


eGullet member #80.

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We live in a world of hidden danger, I boil everything for a minimum of five hours before eating it.


The perfect vichyssoise is served hot and made with equal parts of butter to potato.

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We live in a world of hidden danger, I boil everything for a minimum of five hours before eating it.

You should autoclave it in a pressure cooker for an hour instead. Safer and faster!


PS: I am a guy.

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We live in a world of hidden danger, I boil everything for a minimum of five hours before eating it.

You should autoclave it in a pressure cooker for an hour instead. Safer and faster!

Ha, yes, the autoclave. And maybe a sterile full-body protective suit, just to be sure.

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vinegar to water (1 to 3, I think?), but CI tested it, and found it quite effective
Thanks for this. And congrats to those lucky enough to not have to take this seriously.

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