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We know that eating vegetables and fruits is vital for maintaining good health. But what we should also know is how we wash, cut and preserve fruit and vegetables, actually determines the health quotient we get from them.

Fruits and vegetables travel long distances and pass through many hands in the supply chain before they reach you. To keep them insect and damage free till they reach you, they are normally sprayed with chemicals and pesticides. Through their journey from the farm to your shopping basket they have accumulated mud, dirt, bacteria and germs on their surface. Vegetable vendors often polish some vegetables and fruits with engine oil or wax to give them extra shine (remember.those glistening apples and brinjals you see in the market). To sum it, the surface of fruits and vegetables is home to all nasty elements that cause food-borne diseases. Fruits and vegetables must be therefore cleaned and washed thoroughly before cooking or eating.

Fruits and vegetables, depending on their type need different methods of cleaning and preserving. Firm fruits and vegetables such as apples, pears, potatoes, gourds etc. should be first washed, soaked and then scrubbed. Cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbage, radish should be soaked in boiled water to remove worms. In case of leafy vegetables such as cabbage and lettuce, discard the outer leaves before washing. Green leafy vegetables and herbs such as basil, coriander and mint should be first de-weeded and then washed repeatedly till all dirt and mud is removed. Always wash potatoes, melons, and cucumbers even if you are going to peel them because when cut, dirt and bacteria on the outer surface can be easily transferred to the flesh. Vinegar and lemon juice are good cleaners. Use a mixture of one part vinegar/lime juice and three parts water to clean smooth skinned vegetables and fruits; vinegar and lime are natural cleaning agents.

Fruits and vegetables should be first washed and then cut for the obvious reason that water washes away many of the nutrients. For most vegetables and fruits, nutrients are concentrated just below the skin, so avoid peeling the skin. Potatoes, bottle gourd, cucumber, apples should be eaten with their skin. Once cut, fruits and vegetables should be consumed or cooked immediately as they slowly begin to loose their nutrition due to oxidation. If you intend to store some cut portion in the refrigerator put it in an air-tight container or wrap it in a plastic foil.


  • Avoid buying produce that is bruised or shows signs of damage.
  • In your shopping basket, do not place heavy items on fruits and vegetables as their weight can bruise the produce.
  • Wash produce just before serving/cooking and not before storing. Fresh produce has a natural protective coating that locks moisture and freshness. Washing before storing spoils the produce faster.
  • Do not wash produce with detergent or bleach solutions. Fruits and vegetables are porous and can absorb the detergent or bleach.
  • After washing, dry the produce with paper towel or clean cloth to wipe off any remaining bacteria.
  • Slice off damaged or bruised areas as bacteria may have thrived there.
  • Do not cut vegetables or fruits before washing them. Washing them after cutting will destroy many of the nutrients.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water before washing, cutting or cooking. Chopping boards, knives and cooking utensils should be cleaned thoroughly to avoid contamination.
  • Before storing leafy vegetables and coriander discard damaged or decayed leaves to prevent further spoilage.
  • Store vegetables or herbs that wilt easily in brown paper bags or water proof bags.

Health Initiative from KS Oils