You know those pictures of worms traipsing through apples? Yeah, that can really happen.
All fresh produce, even organic, can harbor residual pesticides, dirt or harmful microorganisms on the surface. Considering the amount of veggies that are served raw, washing is the only way to remove these potential health hazards.
Washing Vegetables and Fruit
Before starting any new kitchen task, properly wash your hands with warm, soapy water. Here are the steps to washing fresh produce:
Wash just before serving. Washing will cause the produce to spoil faster, so it needs to be served shortly after to ensure ideal freshness.
Use Cold Water
Warm water facilitates easy bacterial growth and wilts leafy vegetables.
Rub with Your Hands to Remove Any Dirt and Microorganisms
Use a brush on hard produce. Carrots, potatoes and melons have a hard rind that will cling to dirt easily, so a vigorous washing method is required. Use only a soft bristle brush that will not tear or damage the skin.
Throw Away Outer Leaves
On vegetables like cabbage and lettuce, these layers are the quickest to spoil and will harbor the most bacteria.
Always Wash Melons and Squash
Though the skin is not eaten, bacteria can contaminate the inner flesh when sliced.
Do Not Use Detergent or Bleach
Since fruits and vegetables are porous, they will absorb chemicals and can make your patrons sick.
Place in a Clean Container
Using the original container will re-contaminate the vegetables and undo all of your work.
Sanitize Area When Done
This will kill any germs that may have splashed onto surrounding surfaces.
Consider purchasing a compartment sink dedicated solely to the task of produce washing. This will prevent water splashes from contaminating clean dishes and other work surfaces. Using a prep sink will also prevent residual cleaning chemicals (found in manual warewashing sinks) from contaminating the product.
Use a colander when washing small or leafy produce like spinach, peas or grapes. Place the product inside a colander under running water, and scrub with your hands. The colander prevents the food from going down the drain.