Tricks of the Trade: Filthy Fruit
With crazy things happening like people dying from cantaloupe, you can’t be too careful with your produce. The best option is to grow it yourself, or buy it locally. The next best option is to buy organic…especially when it comes to the Dirty Dozen. Of course, organic isn’t always available, affordable or appetizing (organic produce flown overseas, then stored in a warehouse and truck over a 3-week period isn’t exactly my idea of delicious). Luckily, there is a fairly effective and cheap way to clean your produce: vinegar. I love vinegar. It is single-handedly the most versatile thing in my kitchen. A handful of things I use vinegar for: to clean greasy windows, to brighten my white laundry, to kill weeds, to cure my sore throat, and to clean my produce. A gallon of white distilled vinegar will run you just a few dollars, and will last you a few months.
To clean your produce, you will need a small spray bottle (look in the section of the store where they sell travel-sized things) and a toothbrush. Mix half vinegar and half distilled water in the bottle. For thicker skinned produce like apples, melons, citrus fruit, potatoes, etc…spray the surface with the vinegar mix and scrub with the toothbrush. Rinse in warm water and pat dry. For more thin-skinned produce like grapes and berries, put the produce in a bowl and fill it with half vinegar/half water. Let sit for a few minutes, then rinse in a colander under warm water and pat dry. Lettuces and spinach can be sprayed, then rinsed under cold water and patted dry. Usually I do this all at once when I finish grocery shopping. It takes about 30 minutes to clean everything, and then my kids can grab an apple out of the fridge when they want a snack without getting a mouthful of pathogens.