Homemade Vegetable Wash

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MAKE HARVEST TO TABLE SAFE

We would all like to think that our homegrown produce is fresh and pure of anything harmful, but the truth of the matter is that environmental contamination is real, and homegrown produce could have various parasites living on the leaves or chemicals right on the surface. Fortunately, we can make a homemade vegetable wash using a simple solution of water and vinegar.

Water is not enough to rinse off the soil, microbes, and insects. Sometimes, it also does not work as well.

I used to just wash my produce with water, but after watching many of CaliKim’s videos (https://www.youtube.com/user/CaliKim29), she brought to my attention that insects eggs and larvae often live right on the plants and fruits and a good rinsing with vinegar and water takes them right off. It might seem obvious, but as a new gardener from a big city, I was unaware of the many insects and dangerous microbes that might be living right on top of my produce!

I don’t like the idea of eating squishy bug eggs, and I’m sure you don’t either! I wonder if I ingested some that time I found caterpillars in my farmer’s market corn before I knew about this simple remedy. You can use it on produce you bought at a farmer’s market in addition to what you grow at home. Any vinegar can be used, so it keep things economical, use inexpensive distilled vinegar.

PATHOGENS PRESENT ON PRODUCE?

Finding eggs and worms in produce isn’t fun, but fruits, vegetables, and herbs could potentially host harmful microbes (Front Microbial, 2016). Salad vegetables in particular can carry “large microbial populations, particularly bacteria, which contribute to the natural decay of vegetative organs detached from the plant” (Ragaert et al, 2007). This is why it is important to wash produce with more than just water.

Gorgeous lettuce, but it still requires cleaning.

TREATING YOUR FRESH PRODUCE

Before treating your herbs, lettuce or other fresh greens, remove broken or bruised leaves. The breaks enable pathogens to enter the cells and thus, become protected from the lethal effect of the vinegar or whatever antimicrobial solution you use. Additionally, the liquid from broken or bruised leaves aids the multiplication of both good and bad bacteria associated with the produce (Takeuchi & Frank 2000, Brandl 2008).

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

  • Large Mixing Bowl or Sink

RECIPE FOR VINEGAR WASH

  • 2 Parts Water (2 cups water)
  • 1 Part Distilled Vinegar (1 cup vinegar)

WASH YOUR PRODUCE

Everyone’s yields will be different, so I provided a ratio that can be adjusted into whichever amount you need: 2 parts water and 1 part vinegar. As a starting point, use 2 cups of water and 1 cup of vinegar (400ml water and 200ml vinegar). Double, triple, or quadruple the amount you need for your harvest. If using your sink, be sure it is clean before washing your produce. The measurements don’t have to be exact; you can eyeball this solution.

Mix your solution in a large mixing bowl or sink. Place your harvested produce into the bowl or sink, and allow it to soak in the solution for 10 to 15 minutes. This solution will release any soil, bugs, eggs, and microbes living on your produce.

Rinse off any remaining debris with clean water.  Pat your produce dry with a cloth or paper towel.

Then, enjoy your homegrown or famer’s market produce!

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Homemade Vegetable Wash

REFERENCES

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (2021). Salmonella. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/index.html

Front Microbiol, (2016). Effectiveness of Washing Procedures in Reducing Salmonella enterica and Listeria monocytogenes on a Raw Leafy Green Vegetable (Eruca vesicaria). US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5071777/

Ragaert P., Devlieghere F., Debevere J. (2007). Role of microbiological and physiological spoilage mechanisms during storage of minimally processed vegetables. Postharvest Biol. 44 185–194. 10.1016/j.postharvbio.2007.01.001 [CrossRef] [Google Scholar]

Takeuchi, K., Frank, J.F., (2000). Penetration of Escherichia coli O157:H7 into lettuce tissues as affected by inoculum size and temperature and the effect of chlorine treatment on cell viability. J. Food Prot. 63, 434440.) OPEN ACCESS

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