Yes PLEASE, Wash the Produce

crop woman washing green apples in wooden basin in garden

I was about five, yet remember the night clearly. The evening had just begun and as it moved on by, each one of us started a fever and an ongoing upset stomach. By bedtime, our whole family was in the living room on sofas and roll out beds, sick.

What we later figured out was that we were experiencing the result of food poisoning, from eating grapes, my mother had not taken the time to wash.

With that experience on her mind, my mother impressed upon all her children the value of washing and scrubbing produce before eating it. We washed everything and scrubbed the tougher fruits and vegetables like potatoes and apples.

Wash to help reduce pesticides and herbicide sprays: The necessity of washing produce is further compacted in our day with the knowledge of the dangers of ingesting herbicides and pesticides which are used on all fruits and vegetables. Yes, even organic produces sprayed with certain pesticides and herbicides that may cause bodily harm.

Wash to remove wax coatings: Many fruits and some vegetables are also covered with a thin coating of wax to preserve shelf life and protect the skin. Though it is a consumable wax, the pesticides and herbicides sprayed underneath are not, and fruits need to be scrubbed to remove the wax and sprays.

Wash to remove dirt: Although dirt in its most basic form is not extremely harmful, no one wants to crunch into lettuce and get granules of sand between their teeth from poor washing. Just the other day, I washed a peach rather poorly, and nibbled off a bit of bird dropping with my first bite. It was most unpleasant. Root vegetables grow in dirt, I have been surprised how much dirt is in the sink after I wash a pound of potatoes. It really did not look like they were that dirty.

Wash to remove bacteria and viruses: Produce can come into the store germ ridden, but germs are also added to fresh produce as it is handled by grocery store workers and costumers. Yes, even the sneezes and coughs of people can land upon fresh produce at a grocery store. I have had a tot or two grab something from the grocery cart and had to put it back, hoping whoever came along after me would have the sense to wash it.

HOW: Produce does not need fancy washes and soaps to clean. Abrasion is the best tool for cleaning off unwanted substances from most produce. A scrub with a good vegetable brush or microfiber washrag will remove nearly anything one would not want to ingest.

WHAT: Cold water is usually the best choice to wash produce, since hot water can damage fruits and vegetables.

WHEN: Produce is best washed before being prepared to eat, since washing it too early will allow any remaining organisms time to reproduce.

Bone Broth in the Pot

I don’t like to throw away poultry bones before sucking them dry of all goodness. Bone broth is incredible wholesome and so easy to make, it makes sense to cook the bones before discarding them.

  1. After a turkey or chicken has been plucked clean of meat put it in a pot.
  2. Cover the bones with water.
  3. Simmer, covered, for 12-24 hours on low on a stovetop, or in an instant pot for 2-3 hours.
  4. Cool the broth to room temperature.
  5. Strain out the bones with a colander. I usually wrap a Ziploc back around the bas of the colander to catch the broth as I strain. Then I zip up the bag and lay it flat in the freezer.
  6. The bone broth can be easily thawed by running the bag under hot water.

Uses: Soups, stews, rice, casseroles, any time a can of broth is needed. When we are struggling with illness in our home, I pull out a package of stock, add lots of garlic and some salt, keep it warm in a pot and sip on it all day.

Why make instead of buy?

1) Using the bones is not wasteful. Not being wasteful is a form of gratitude. When we are ungrateful for something, we tend to treat it with disregard, as though it is- easy come and easy go. If we appreciate something, we will not cast it aside easily. There are times in life I am unable to cook up the bones from a bird. It makes me a little sad, because I feel as though I am pouring a half gallon of amazing stock in the trash, but I also know that it is not with ingratitude that I do not cook up bones, so it is okay to move on from those sad thoughts.

2) It is in a way, free broth! One chicken, depending on its size, makes about 4-8 quarts of broth. Making one’s own broth is a sensible way to save money. A can of similar quality broth can run up three dollars and up…if it can even be found.

3) Stock made with bones contains collagen which helps nourish our body’s bones, easing and even preventing arthritis and bone loss. Collagen is good for skin, hair, and nails too. Minerals and collagen found in home-made bone stock are much higher than most store bought versions of stock. A good stock will be so think with collagen, it will gelatinize in the fridge. Very few store-bought stocks can claim that.