10 Foods You're Probably Not Washing Properly But Should
You don't want to get sick after your hard work in the kitchen or bite into something that tastes, well, dirty. Washing your fruits and vegetables properly is step one in making sure a dish tastes right and is safe to eat, as it minimizes dirt and the risk of bacterial contamination. Here are the foods that need a little more attention than you might think.
Don't believe everything you hear about pre-washed lettuce. Even if a lettuce's package says it has been "triple washed," you should still wash it, Maggie Michalczyk, MS, RD says. "That term is not regulated by the FDA, so there's no safety measure checking to make sure it has actually been triple washed," Michalczyk says. To wash it, fill a salad spinner with greens and water then add a teaspoon of baking soda to spin it until dry.
While you may be tempted to dig right in to that container of raspberries, resist the urge. "This will prevent them from getting soggy or bruising. Strawberries, for example, are on the 'Dirty Dozen' list, so make sure you don't skip washing these," says Michalczyk. No need to soak berries, but do rinse them with water before you eat them.
"Although we don't eat the skin of most squashes, it's super important to wash the outside because bacteria can be transferred from the skin to your knife and then to the flesh of the veggie," says Michalcyzk. Yuck! Be on the safe side; wash the outside of your veggies before cutting into them, even if you're not eating the skin.
Did you know you're actually supposed to wash the outside of a head of cauliflower, even when it comes in a bag or is wrapped in leaves? "Most people assume that because it's in a bag it does not need to be washed, but it is still recommended that you rinse it and remove the outer leaves before cutting into florets," Michcalcyzk says.
Mushrooms are super dirty. Don't cook them without washing them, but don't let them sit in water, either. Since mushrooms are like sponges that soak up water, you don't want to compromise their taste and texture by soaking them. "You should wash mushrooms with water then blot them dry with a paper towel," Michalczyk. Why this method? Damp mushrooms don't cook as well.
Yes, you need to wash avocados fruit of yours before whipping up guacamole. "Many people don't wash the skin of an avocado because they don't eat it, but the bacteria that is on an avocado skin can be transferred to the flesh when you cut through it," Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD says. To avoid contaminating the avocado, rinse and rub it under cold water. And for produce with tough skin, like avocados, use a vegetable brush to scrub the outside under running water, she says.
Limes and Lemons
Here again, cutting limes and lemons can transfer bacteria from the peels into the fruit, which can spread bacteria. Wash it to remove bacteria that it might have picked up in the produce bin, says Rizzo. Once washed, squeeze these fruits onto salad, fish, fresh greens, and more.
"Even though you peel an onion, it still grows underground and has some excess dirt on the outside," Rizzo says. Wash it under water before cutting through it to remove dirt and bacteria. Super simple.
If you only eat the inside of a baked potato, you may think you don't need to wash it. Yet, "the nice thing about a baked potato is the crispy skin that comes from roasting it in the oven. If you scrub the dirt off the potato beforehand, you can eat the crispy skin and get all the fiber that comes with it," Rizzo says. Double perk!
To get to the fruit of the watermelon, you have to cut through the rind, and when you don't eat the rind, you may not think about washing it. "Although it's a big fruit, you still need to wash the rind to get off excess bacteria. If it's too heavy to lift up, take a wet paper towel and wipe down the skin," Rizzo says. Plus, you can actually eat the rind. Consider blending this nutritious part of the melon into a smoothie!