Step 6: Preparing and Serving Fresh Garden Produce
Wash your hands with hot soapy water before and after preparing food.
Clean your counter top, cutting boards, and utensils after peeling produce and before cutting and chopping. Bacteria from the outside of raw produce can be transferred to the inside when it is cut or peeled. Wash kitchen surfaces and utensils with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item.
Do not wash produce with soaps or detergents.
Use clean potable cold water to wash items.
For produce with thick skin, use a vegetable brush to help wash away hard-to-remove microbes.
Produce with a lot of nooks and crannies like cauliflower, broccoli or lettuce should be soaked for 1 to 2 minutes in cold clean water.
Some produce such as raspberries should not be soaked in water. Put fragile produce in a colander and spray it with distilled water. Wash immediately before consuming.
After washing, dry with clean paper towel. This can remove more bacteria.
Don’t forget that homegrown, farmers market, and grocery store fruits and vegetables should also be well washed.
Do not rewash packaged products labeled “ready-to-eat,” “washed” or “triple washed.”
Once cut or peeled, refrigerate as soon as possible at 40ºF or below.
Do not purchase cut produce that is not refrigerated.
Separate from meat, poultry and seafood.
Remove damaged or bruise produce.
Leafy Greens Preparing/Cleaning
Leafy greens from the farmers market, grocery store, farm or garden should be stored at 35-40°F within two hours of harvesting or purchasing.
Wash greens by separating leaves and soaking them in a bowl of water for a few minutes. Drain the greens using a strainer or colander and repeat the soaking process. The goal here is dilution.
Another technique is to presoak greens for ﬁve minutes in a mixture of vinegar and water (1/2 cup distilled white vinegar per two cups water), which should be followed by a clean water rinse. This has been shown to REDUCE but NOT eliminate bacteria contamination, and it may slightly aﬀect texture and taste.
Drain leafy greens with a clean strainer or colander, then dry with a clean towel or salad spinner. Salad spinners should be thoroughly cleaned with warm soapy water after every use.