August 23, 2008

Keeping Produce Free From Harm

  • Always wash your hands before working with produce.
  • If fruits and vegetables are stored on refrigerator shelves, store meats on pans or plates below the produce to prevent meat juices, which may contain harmful bacteria, from dripping on them.
  • Wash all produce thoroughly before you use it, NOT when you bring it home. (Fresh produce has a natural protective coating that helps keep in moisture and freshness. Washing produce before storage causes it to spoil faster.)
  • Remove and discard outer leaves, stem ends and other unusable parts. Then rinse under clean, cold running water just before preparing or eating. Don’t use soap or detergent as it can seep in and make you sick.
  • Even though you won’t be eating the skins, wash melons, winter squash, kiwis, citrus fruits, and the like before cutting so dirt and bacteria on the outside aren’t transferred via the knife.
  • Rub briskly – scrubbing with a soft brush or hands – to clean the surface.
  • Wash produce before peeling so that dirt on the surface doesn’t get transferred during the process.
  • Fresh, farm-grown cucumbers aren’t waxed like the supermarket kind, so you can eat them without peeling, as long as they are thoroughly washed. The same for freshly harvested carrots and beets, unless the skin is tough or thick.
  • When you peel vegetables, try to take off the least amount of skin possible. Be sure to take off any green color on potatoes.
  • If you need to dry vegetables, use a clean cloth rather than paper towels to reduce waste.
  • When you cut or chop vegetables and fruit, always use a clean cutting board that you reserve just for this purpose. Once you have cut through the protective skin of fruits and vegetables, bacteria can enter. Cook or eat soon.
  • Refrigerate cut or peeled fruits and vegetables within two hours

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