You've Been Washing Your Fruits and Vegetables All Wrong

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You've Been Washing Your Fruits and Vegetables All Wrong

There are a few fruits and vegetables, however, which require special attention when it comes to cleaning — here's a quick guide to washing them.

Broccoli and Cauliflower

Broccoli and cauliflower have lots of crevices where germs can hide. Soak broccoli and cauliflower in a bowl of cold water for two minutes before rinsing them under cold running water.

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Avocado

You probably don’t think to wash the skin of an avocado before cutting it but the skin can harbor harmful bacteria and can contaminate your knife as you cut. Be sure to rinse the skin and scrub it gently with a brush before cutting the avocado.

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Apples

Stems can trap bacteria and dirt. Be sure to trim both ends of the apple after washing it under cold running water with a brush.

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Hot Peppers

You should wear gloves when handling hot peppers, even when you’re washing them. The pepper’s natural oils can burn your skin and eyes.

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Mushrooms

No water is needed to clean mushrooms — a dry brush is sufficient to sweep away dirt and microbes. If you have a particularly dirty mushroom you can use a damp paper towel or give it a quick rinse under cold running water, but be careful not to get the mushroom too wet; mushrooms act like sponges and won’t cook well if they absorb too much water.

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Fresh Herbs

Fresh herbs should be handled gently. The best way to remove dirt and germs hiding in their leaves is to dip them into a bowl of cold water and swish them around gently. Then, pat the herbs dry with a clean paper towel.

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Melon

Even though the rind of the melon is trimmed away, it should be washed under cold running water and scrubbed thoroughly with a brush before the fruit is cut so that the knife will not become contaminated. Give extra attention to melons that have a textured rind (like cantaloupe) – dirt and germs can hide in the crevices.

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Leafy Greens

Soak leafy greens in a bowl of cold water for two minutes before rinsing them under cold running water to remove any trapped dirt or germs.

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It's seems like a no-brainer; if you're going to eat the skin of a fruit or vegetable, rinse it under cold running water first. But most people are unaware that all fruits and vegetables should be washed — even those with inedible skins or rinds. Millions of people are sickened each year by contaminated food (as many as 48 million, according to the United States Food and Drug Administration) and many times the source of the outbreak is produce. Properly washing produce can help eliminate harmful germs or bacteria and can help prevent food-borne illness.

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There are several ways that produce can become contaminated. As it is grown it comes into contact with animals, soil, water and farm workers — all of which can introduce harmful substances to the fruits and vegetables. Once produce is harvested it passes through several sets of hands (as it is packed, shipped, purchased, prepared and stored), each of which has the potential to contaminate the food with harmful bacteria and germs.

As a general rule, you should always wash your hands with warm soapy water both before and after preparing fresh produce. Almost all produce can be washed under cold running water (no need to use soaps or detergents) — produce that is either firm or thick-skinned should be gently scrubbed with a brush to help wash away hard-to-remove microbes. Then, once your produce is washed, be sure to dry it with a clean towel or paper towel so that you don't re-introduce germs. Once your produce is properly washed and dried, it can be peeled, sliced or cut.

Check out the slideshow above to learn how to properly wash fruits and vegetables.

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