Thursday, September 9, 2010

Washing Fruit and Vegetables

One thing I want to include in this blog is hints and tips to make baking (and cooking, I guess...) easier for the average person. These will range all over the place and will include things I've learned over the years to things I'm just now learning.

One of those tips you always hear from professionals is "Wash Your Fruits And Vegetables!" The biggest reason stated is pesticide and dirt residue that may still be on your fruits and veggies. Since the stats on how much pesticide residue we pick up can be kinda scary, it makes a lot of sense to wash our fruits and veggies. For the organic produce, you should be washing for dirt and bugs instead. Bugs aren't much better than pesticides.

While I've heard this tip a million times (OK, I might be slightly exaggerating here), none of these professionals ever seemed to explain how to wash fruits and vegetables. It was supposed to be something you just knew how to do. I knew how to rinse fruits and veggies, but rinsing isn't the same thing as washing, just ask any child who tries to hurry up when washing their hands for dinner.

I did eventually learn how to wash fruits and vegetables, but I realize that not everyone might have the same skill level I do. Since I was washing some raspberries for tomorrow's baking, I decided to make a tutorial for all of you. The easiest way I've found to wash your fruits and vegetables. All you need is this:

Actually there is one item in there simply for staging purposes and two items that are missing. But most of it is there. You will need a large bowl of water, baking soda (NOT baking powder! They are very different things!), your fruit or vegetables (raspberries in this picture), a colander, and paper towels (a regular dishcloth will work too if you don't like using paper towels).

First fill a bowl with hot water. While the water doesn't need to be boiling, the hotter it is, the better job it will do. I simply turn the hot water tap on full and let it get hot.

Next, add 3 to 4 Tablespoons of baking soda to the water. It should dissolve pretty quickly, leaving you something like this:

The cutting board is there simply to help cut down the glare from my kitchen light. While it only sort of worked for glare reduction, it did a remarkable job in letting me know that my bowl went from having a slight cut to a full blown crack and will need replaced!

Anyway, the next step here is to add your fruit or vegetables into the bowl of water.

Allow this to soak for 5 to 10 minutes. If you are using your fruit or vegetables right away, this is a good time to work on some of the next steps in your recipe. If, like me, you are simply prepping now and putting them in the fridge or freezer, I'm sure you will find something else to do for 5 or 10 minutes. If your fruit or vegetables soak for a little longer (up to 20 minutes) it shouldn't hurt them any.

Once they're done soaking, drain the water and rinse. A colander in the kitchen sink will work perfectly for this.

The water temperature here won't matter much. Hot, cold or somewhere in between is just fine for rinsing. Once rinsed, place the fruit or vegetable on a paper towel (or regular towel if you prefer) and allow them to dry. If you want to speed up the drying process, you can use another paper towel to dry them, but be careful, especially with more fragile foods like berries, which can be crushed easily.

Once the fruit or vegetables are dry, either use them in your recipe or package them up for later use. You can either freeze or refrigerate fruit or vegetables by placing them in a airtight container, like a piece of TupperWare or a Ziplock Bag.


  1. A helpful hint for drying berries is to line a baking sheet with paper towels. Gently tilt the berries from the colander onto the paper towels in a somewhat even layer and let them dry that way. And if you pop them into the freezer like this, they will freeze individually instead of clumps. Once frozen, just repackage them into a freezer bag and measuring frozen berries will be a whole lot easier.