Homemade Vegetable and Fruit Wash

by Daisy

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I live and die by this salad spinner. She’s no spring chicken, though. She has a pull string. She has those little hairline cracks from being dropped too many times. She’s been with me a long, long time.

I use the strainer part to carry vegetables from the garden to the kitchen for their baths. There are several washing options available with varying effectiveness. This particular solution (below) works to get rid of supermarket yuck as well as homegrown dirt and backyard bugs on fruit and vegetables. The acid in the vinegar helps trash bacteria and the salt sucks the life out of soft-bodied insects (remember osmosis from freshman biology?) I imagine the vinegar doesn’t do the bugs any favors, either. If you know the full science I’d be happy to hear it. My thinking cap is in semi-retirement.

Produce Wash*

1/4 cup vinegar
2 tablespoons salt
basin/bowl of clean water (or your very own Sally the Spinner)

Stir the vinegar and salt into the water and soak your produce for several minutes. Scrub and rinse (Spin, Sally, spin!!) as usual and eat.

*For a simple
veg/fruit spray, try a solution of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water. Keep in a spray bottle, spray produce, let sit, scrub as usual and rinse.

Well, my sweet ole pull-string Sally probably has one more drop in her. I don’t know what I’ll do without her. Do you think it would be cheating to succeed her with this one? I feel disloyal even thinking about it.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Megan July 17, 2009 at 8:09 am

First I just want to say how much I absolutly love your site! I have told everyone I know about this site, and posted it in a few blogs and such. I’m sure I’ll be asking you plenty of questions, many of which may seem very silly, but I’m a bit new to all this but very eager to learn as much as I can! With the Veggie Wash I was wondering hwo the Vinegar and Salt disinfects the produce? With all the scares of Ecoli and such I just wasn’t sure how this would cover all that.
Thanks for the info. 🙂

Tomato Lady July 17, 2009 at 9:43 am

Hi Megan! Thank you very much! We appreciate our readers so much and love all your questions. There is no such thing as a silly one.
To your questions: As I understand it, the acidity of the vinegar kills the germs and the salinity of the salt kills the bugs. Not very scientific, sorry. The article here goes into more detail: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=14540742
The research quoted in that article could lead you to more scientific explanations.
Hope this helps and thanks again!

Portia McCracken July 19, 2009 at 9:16 am

TL & Megan, here’s more info on vinegar vs. e. coli from Colorado State Univ. Extension: http://www.ext.colostate.edu/Pubs/foodnut/09369.html
“Recent studies have shown that soaking in vinegar is a particularly effective way to reduce E. coli O157:H7 on fresh produce such as lettuce and apples. Soak in distilled white vinegar for three to five minutes, stirring occasionally. Rinse with clean tap water to remove vinegar flavor. Wash only what is needed immediately. Washing earlier could give the remaining bacteria time to grow again.”
It sounds like the time of exposure is important, so a quick spray might not be the answer to the problem. Regarding produce such as cantaloupe and watermelon bought from the elsewhere, I soak & scrub them in a diluted solution of chlorine bleach and water, followed by a rinse in cold tap water, since I have no idea what conditions they were grown in.

Tomato Lady July 19, 2009 at 10:11 am

Portia–Thanks for the link. I enjoyed the whole page. Time for me to go on a manure-gathering trip to add to the compost pile for next season.

Gloria Carrington-Ferrira September 11, 2009 at 10:02 am

Oh, I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am to have found you. It’s an absolute gem of a find . . how did I live without this blog . . I’ve no idea . . lol!!!

I’ve always worried about washing effectively my fruit and veg ‘cos that’s what I exist on really.

Once again, thank you for sharing . . a really fantastic blog . . in all ways!!

Tomato Lady September 12, 2009 at 12:31 am

Gloria–Why, thank you, my dear! You’re very sweet to say. We have a lot of fun over here.

peggy December 21, 2010 at 4:03 pm

i use baking soda. i scrub the scrubbable veggies and fruit with it, and add it to water when washing greens.

Michelle June 26, 2011 at 12:00 pm

I have a quick question: Does this work for pesticides, as well?

Tomato Lady June 26, 2011 at 3:31 pm

Michelle–It will work as well as any thorough exterior cleaning, but of course won’t get at anything systemic or anything which has soaked into the fruit or veg.

Laura @ Mrs in the Making January 6, 2012 at 4:02 pm

My Sally died a few days before Christmas, and my mom bought me that OXO spinner for Christmas as a replacement. It works like a charm and I love it SO MUCH! I’m so glad to see your recipe for home-made veggie wash because that Fit is just too darn expensive… Thanks for sharing 🙂

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