Prepping & Cleaning Fruits and Veggies
Your kitchen sink and counters may be teaming with hungry microbes that are just waiting to catch a ride into your body even if you are good about keeping your kitchen clean. You may have missed a bit of juice from that chicken you just put in the oven. Your cat might have jumped up to look out your kitchen window while you were gone. One of your kids may have sneezed and then touched the sink. Battling bacteria and viruses, let alone simple dirt, are part of everyday life.
Before you start to clean your fruits and vegetables, wash your sink and counters with hot, soapy water and then rinse. If you use a cutting board, do the same. To get a cutting board even cleaner, rinse the board with a mixture of 1/2 teaspoon of chlorine bleach combined with 2 cups of water. Try to use a separate cutting board for meat and produce to help avoid cross-contamination.
While this may sound redundant with all of the cleaning you are doing, but don't forget to wash your hands. If you don't, you may not only contaminate your fruits and veggies, your fruits and veggies may end up with a soapy taste. Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and hot water before you start handling your produce and re-wash your hands after handling any raw meats.
To ensure that your fruits and veggies are clean and safe for eating, wash all of your fruits and vegetables individually under running water. Scrub the outside of the fruit or vegetables with a brush or rub with your hands, including the outsides of fruits and vegetables with rinds. Even if you don't eat the rinds of melons or watermelons, you can transfer bacteria and dirt into them when you cut or slice the fruit.
When you are finished cleaning your fruits and veggies, let them dry on paper towels. When you are done with the produce, throw the towels away and clean your counters, cutting boards and sink.