Tips For Cleaning Vegetables
To get rid of pesticide residue and microbes like bacteria on vegetables, you should always wash them well before consumption.
– Trim off the lower portion of vegetables that tend to carry more soil, for example kang kong, including the roots before washing, according to the AVA.
– Generally, a 30-second rinse followed by a 15-minute soak, and a final rinse will help to remove a significant portion of pesticide residue, says the AVA.
– Soak vegetables in a clean bowl as the sink might contain bacteria.
– Gently rub the surface of your fruits and vegetables while rinsing to remove any residual dirt.
– Pay particular attention to the base of vegetable stems since dirt or residue tend to get trapped there.
Tips For Cleaning Root Vegetables
According to the AVA, root vegetables such as carrot, daikon and potatoes should be scrubbed under running water or in a basin before rinsing and soaking to remove dirt or residue from their surface.
You can also peel such root vegetables to further reduce the presence of pesticide residue, says Mrs Tay Su Chin, course manager of the Diploma in Applied Food Science & Nutrition at Temasek Polytechnic’s School of Applied Science.
Gently Rinse Mushrooms
It is often said that mushrooms should not be washed as they absorb moisture easily and become waterlogged, affecting their taste when cooked.
One way to get around it is to either wipe the mushrooms with a damp cloth, or give them a quick rinse just before use to remove the loose bits stuck to the mushrooms, says Mrs Tay.
Mushrooms can be gently washed under running water and immediately wiped dry, the AVA advises.
“Some studies have shown that briefly rinsing mushrooms does not cause tangible changes to their taste and texture,” it adds.
It Is Safe To Eat Fruits With Their Skins But...
Pesticide residue on fruits in the market are already at very low and safe amounts and a wash will further reduce the level of residue. Peeling is effective for eliminating pesticide residue as most of the residue collects on the surface of fruits.
Remember To Remove Wax On Citrus Peels
Fruit producers might spray the skin of citrus fruits with a thin layer of wax after the fruit is harvested to keep it looking fresh and to protect it from a bumpy transit from supplier to consumer.
Some suggestions on how to remove the wax include scrubbing and then rinsing it, or soaking it in hot water.
Should You Use Commercial Vegetable Washes?
While washing solutions for vegetables and fruits are sold in the market, promising to get rid of microbes and pesticides, their effectiveness has been a topic of debate.
The AVA says, “While some commercial products claim to be specially designed for washing pesticide residues off the surface of fruits and vegetables, there is no international consensus on their effectiveness”.
One study by the University of Maine in the United States suggests that distilled water was just as, or even more, effective in removing pesticide residue and microbes compared to three commercial vegetable washes the research team tested.
Tip: an alternative to distilled water is clean cold tap water.
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Text: Samantha Boh, The Straits Times / Additional Reporting: Elizabeth Liew