The Right Way to Wash Your Fruit

Ever wondered about vinegar baths?

April 23, 2020

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Woman is washing strawberry in the kitchen.

washing strawberries

Woman is washing strawberry in the kitchen.

Photo by: solidcolours / Getty Images

solidcolours / Getty Images

By Katherine Lok for Food Network Kitchen

You probably were extra careful in selecting the best-looking strawberries, blueberries and other fresh fruit from the market, so why waste all that effort by washing them incorrectly? Knowing how to wash fruit, from delicate fruits like berries to hardier peelable fruits like apples and oranges, is the first step to enjoying them at their best, whether you're having them right out of the fridge or mixed into your favorite smoothies or baked goods. Here are the best ways to wash your fruits, as well as what not to do.

How to Wash Berries

Ideally you should wait to wash your berries until right before you're ready to eat them. Wet berries will spoil faster, though there are some easy methods that can help them last longer in the fridge. And before you grab those berries, make sure to wash your hands with soap and water to prevent any dirt or germs from transferring over.

Since strawberries grow close to the ground, it's important to clean them well to get off any residual dirt. Giving them a quick dip in a vinegar-treated bath before storing them in the fridge will help them stay fresh longer. Mix together 1 part white distilled vinegar with 3 parts water in a large bowl. With your strawberries in a colander or mesh strainer, give them a swirl in the solution for a few seconds and then a quick rinse under a gentle stream of water. It's important to dip, rather than soak, the strawberries, as their porous skin can absorb the vinegar and ruin their taste. Then transfer them to a paper towel to dry completely. Once they're dry, place them in a single layer in a container lined with a paper towel and store in the fridge with the lid slightly ajar to promote good air circulation.

Like strawberries, blackberries can be rinsed before storing in the fridge. Just wash them under a gentle stream of water, leave them on a clean towel to dry, and store them as you would the strawberries.

Blueberries and raspberries should not be washed until right before eating. Blueberries have their own built-in protection via a waxy outer coating called a bloom, and raspberries are extremely delicate and susceptible to mold and bacteria from too much moisture. Similar to how you wash herbs, gently dunk raspberries in water instead of running them under a heavy stream of water. This will help prevent your delicate berries from getting squashed. Blueberries are hardier and can be rinsed in a colander under a stream of water.

How to Wash Fruit with Peels

For fruits with peels like apples, pears, kiwis and citrus, make sure to also wash your hands first before handling. It's important to thoroughly wash these fruits before cutting into them, as you might risk contaminating the inside with any bacteria that can be present on the outside of the peel. Remove any stickers, wash briskly under running water at room temperature, then pat dry with a clean towel.

Don't Wash with Soap or Bleach

Save the soap for your hands, not your food. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), washing fruits and vegetables with soap, detergent or commercial produce wash is not recommended. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also doesn’t recommend washing fruits with soap, detergent or commercial produce wash, as soap or detergent residues can stay on produce. The FDA has not evaluated the safety of residues left from soaps and detergents if ingested.

When it comes time to wash your fruit, stay away from bleach. Bleach can destroy harmful microorganisms, but it should not be ingested! You should never wash your produce with bleach or a diluted bleach solution.

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