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How to wash vegetables and fruits before consumption?

Q: The vegetables and fruits available in the market nowadays are contaminated with insecticides and pesticides. How should we wash the vegetables and fruits before consuming them?

A:Fruits and vegetables are an important part of the Indian diet. It is recommended that you eat at least five servings or more of fruits and vegetables each day. If food is not handled properly, germs can survive/grow to levels that make people sick. Fruits and vegetables can pick up dust and soil as they are being harvested, handled, packed, and shipped. They may also have trace amounts of chemicals and bacteria on the outer tissues that can be removed by washing. The following are suggestions for safe handling of fruits and vegetables. At the market: Trust your senses. Look for fresh-looking fruits and vegetables that are not bruised, shrivelled, mouldy, or slimy or on which the skin is bruised or broken which will indicate that the inside has already been contaminated. Germs can adhere to the surface of vegetable and can be passed to the flesh when cut (cross contamination). Do not purchase anything that smells bad, and do not buy packaged vegetables that look slimy. Buy only what you need that can be used within a few days. Apples, potatoes, and citrus fruits can be stored longer. Handle produce gently at the store. Keep produce on top in the basket (putting groceries on top of produce can bruise it). The most important thing you can do is wash all fruits and vegetables in clean drinking water before eating, even if you do not plan to eat the skin, such as melons or oranges. Wash the fruits just before you plan to use it, not when you put it away. However, lettuce can be rinsed before refrigerating to help maintain crispness. Washing in slightly warm water brings out the flavour and aroma of the fruit or vegetable you are preparing. Spraying: The best method for washing ripe or fragile berry fruits--strawberries, grapes etc. is by using a spring sprayer. Use a colander so you can gently turn the fruit as you spray. Immersion: If you do not have a sink sprayer, berries and whole soft fruit should be placed in a wire basket or colander into a pot of lukewarm water. Move the basket in and out of the water several times. Change the water until the water remains clear. Do this process quickly. If the fruit absorbs too much water, it will lose flavour, texture, and aroma. Dry: Dry with a paper towel. Greens, such as palak and methi should be cooked while wet, immediately after washing. Cold Water Washing: Vegetables used in salads, such as lettuce, radishes, carrots, etc., should be washed in the coldest tap water available to maintain crispness. To get maximum crispness, immerse the greens in a mixture of ice cubes and water about a half-hour before serving. Do not use detergent when washing fruits and vegetables. The detergent residues will be left on the fruits and vegetables. Produce items are porous and will absorb the detergent. Peel and discard outer leaves or rinds in fruits like watermelon, papaya, mango, pumpkins etc. Scrub hearty vegetables, such as potatoes and carrots, if you want to eat the fibre and nutrient rich skin.

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