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Food Cleaning: Proper Food Preparation Methods

written by: Robin Reichert • edited by: Rhonda Callow • updated: 7/1/2011

A discussion on how to clean various foods before they are consumed or cooked.

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    Proper food cleaning is necessary for your health, and it should always be a part of your food preparation methods. In Clean It Fast, Clean It Right: The Ultimate Guide to Making Absolutely Everything You Own Sparkle & Shine, author Jeff Bredenberg explains the importance of proper food cleaning before consuming food. Food cleaning is necessary to get rid of bacteria and/or pesticides that might be on the surface of certain foods. Despite the fact that vegetables and fruits do not promote the growth of bacteria on their surfaces, the dirt that is on the foods might encourage bacterial growth.

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    Cleaning Fruits and Vegetables

     In Fresh-cut Fruits and Vegetables: Science, Technology and Market, author Olusola Lamikanra offers some practical techniques for cleaning fruits and vegetables. First, Olusola asserts that you should immediately trim off any kind of dead or dying leaves off of your produce in order to diminish the chances for microbial growth: this is a crucial first step in the food cleaning process. Olusola also explains that the temperature of cold water used on the fruits and vegetables should at least be higher than the temperature of the refrigerated fruits and vegetables to avoid the absorption of microbial cells by the tissues in the produce.

    In addition, if you believe the produce is significantly contaminated, it is recommended that you thoroughly wash the food two times during the food cleaning process to ensure that the food is cleaned correctly. What’s more, Olusola asserts the need to thoroughly dry the produce in question in order to thwart the potential future growth of bacteria or germs on the fruit or vegetables’ surface.

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    Cleaning Lettuce and Greens

    Jeff Brendenberg describes the appropriate method for cleaning lettuce and vegetable greens; you will need to make sure that your kitchen sink is clean first. You should clean the sink with an antibacterial soap and rinse it thoroughly to remove any bacteria that might be in the sink. Once the sink is clean, you can fill it up with cold water. You can then break up the lettuce or greens and soak them in the cold water, so that the dirt naturally lifts from the leaves and greens. You can then blot dry the vegetables with a paper towel to soak up some of the water. If the vegetables are very dirty, you can repeat the process until they are clean and free of dirt.

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    Root Vegetable Cleaning

    Root vegetables can be cleaned the same way lettuce and greens are cleaned. If you plan on peeling the root vegetables, food cleaning processes are simplified since you merely need to rinse off the foods you plan to peel. If you are looking to make carrots, radishes or beets easier to peel, you can roast them in the oven first to soften the outer core of the vegetables for easier peeling.

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    Resources

    For information on cleaning vegetables and fruits:

    Clean It Fast, Clean It Right: The Ultimate Guide to Making Absolutely Everything You Own Sparkle & Shine; Jeff Bredenberg; 1999.

    For information on techniques for cleaning food:

    Fresh-cut Fruits and Vegetables: Science, Technology and Market; Olusola Lamikanra; 2002.