How to Wash Fruits and Vegetables

Every foodservice professional must understand the importance of washing fresh produce and establishing a restaurant cleaning routine. According to the FDA, coronavirus is not spread by eating contaminated foods. However, you can protect your customers and staff by using the same food safety practices you would use to prevent food-borne illnesses like norovirus. This includes washing fruits and vegetables thoroughly to remove any contamination from pesticides, waxes, and pathogens.

Tips for Washing Produce

Rinsing tomatoes in water

When washing produce, remember that there are multiple precautionary steps you should take. Before you get started, here are a few tips to keep in mind to make the process easier:

  • Wash your hands with soap for 20 seconds or longer
  • Designate and sanitize a produce washing station
  • Remove produce from bags and boxes immediately
  • Discard all bags and containers
  • Do not use hand soap, bleach, or alcohol on produce

How to Wash Vegetables

To learn how to properly wash produce, watch the video below for a step-by-step guide on the process:

How to Wash Produce

Soaking and spraying are the two common methods for washing produce. Use a soaking method to clean softer produce or leafy greens and use a spray solution to clean firmer-skinned vegetables. Below, we outline these two methods of cleaning fruits and veggies so you can serve your customers safe, fresh foods.

1. How to Wash Produce with the Soaking Method

The soak method is ideal for washing tightly packaged fruits like berries and vegetables with crevices like broccoli. Not only does soaking produce rid it of harmful germs or chemicals, but it can also revitalize its flavor and extend its shelf life. If you purchase local, organic fruits and vegetables that contain no chemicals or harmful preservatives, you can use warm water to rinse your produce.

To correctly use this method, you’ll need the following items on hand:

  • Stainless steel sink
  • Food storage bin
  • Vegetable wash or distilled vinegar
  • Colander
  • Fresh water

Follow these steps to clean fruits and vegetables with the soaking method:

Regal veggie wash
  1. Sanitize sink, wash hands, and use soap and water to clean all areas coming into contact with your fresh produce.
  2. Fill sink with either diluted wash or vinegar solution. If you are using a commercial wash, use a 1:30 ratio of wash to water, or approximately 4 to 6 oz. of wash to 1 gallon of water.
  3. Soak vegetables for at least 30 seconds.
  4. Place them in a colander and use hands to rub the produce while rinsing with cold water.
  5. Let produce air dry and enjoy.

What Should You Use the Soaking Method For?

While effective, you can only use the soaking method on certain fruits and vegetables. Discover the fruits and vegetables you should use the soaking method for below:

  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Grapes
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries

2. How to Wash Fruits and Vegetables with the Spray Method

Use a spray or scrub to remove dirt and pesticides from produce with firmer skin such as eggplant, potatoes, or cucumbers. This method is also ideal for large, smooth fruits and vegetables without crevices or cracks. To clean your fruits and vegetables with the spray method, you’ll need the following items:

To effectively clean your fruits and vegetables using the spray method, be sure to follow the steps below:

Cleaning a potato with a vegetable prep brush
  1. Wash hands and all areas coming into contact with your fresh produce with soap and water.
  2. Fill a spray bottle with your solution and mist the entire surface of each vegetable or fruit.
  3. Let the coated produce sit for at least 30 seconds.
  4. Use your hands or a vegetable cleaning brush to scrub produce and rinse the solution off under cold running water.
  5. Let produce air dry and enjoy.

What Should You Use the Spray Method For?

You should only use the spray method with certain types of produce. This method works best with these types of fruits and vegetables:

  • Tomatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Potatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Peppers
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Melons
  • Lemons
  • Limes
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Cleaning Vegetables with Vinegar

Washing lettuce with water

Adding vinegar to your fruit and veggie cleaning can help remove extra bacteria. Cleaning with just water removes 98% of the bacteria on fruit and vegetables, but adding vinegar will not hurt the process. Washing your fruits and vegetables with vinegar can increase the shelf-life of produce.

If you’re opting for vinegar instead of water, we recommend using a ratio of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water. You can use vinegar in the soaking method with the steps above and the spray method.

Why Do You Have to Wash Fruits?

Washing fruit and vegetables is an important part of food safety because it can help prevent cross-contamination while ridding your produce of pesticides or chemicals. Examining and washing vegetables before service increases helps you avoid a food-borne illness outbreak caused by contaminated produce. Plus, the chemicals used in pesticides can irritate guests with sensitive stomachs or allergies.

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By washing every piece of produce, you’ll reduce the chance of your customers getting a food-borne illness, and you’ll execute safe food preparation practices in your restaurant, deli, bar, or catering business. Additionally, obtaining a food handling certification is critical in the foodservice industry and will help you serve safe and clean food to your customers.

Posted in: Food Safety|Kitchen & Cooking Tips|By Ashley Kufera
The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. Please refer to our Content Policy for more details.
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