Keeping Produce Fresh
Preserve Fruits and Vegetables
I would love to use the fruit and vegetable wash, FIT, but it's horrendously expensive. Any ideas on how I can make an inexpensive substitute?
For an inexpensive substitute for commercial fruit & vegetable cleaners, use baking soda. I used to keep some by the sink in a shaker jar, but last night I noticed in the grocery store that Arm & Hammer is packaging theirs in a shaker container (much like Comet or Ajax cleansers). Store brands are less expensive, though. It's not a spray, obviously--so it's not quite as convenient as the sprays, but in my opinion baking soda does a better job: just shake some on, rub it around and rinse. Works great.
I work for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, so I asked one of our food specialists here what FIT was made of. Know what he told me? Mainly vinegar, and a few other things. My grandmother always soaked her produce in vinegar/water (equal amounts) and then rinsed with cold water, and it was extremely clean.
FIT doesn't really clean any better than this, it just does it with a little less effort. A small cautionary: Never soak mushrooms in this manner. Scrub them, and then rinse minimally under cold running water. Letting them soak allows them to absorb extra water. As long as you have a large bowl and a colander, you can make your own "FIT" dip-vat as well. Place the colander inside the bowl, fill with vinegar-water mixture, and put your fruit/vegetables inside. Then when they've soaked for 5-10 minutes, just lift the colander out and rinse! Works great!
My husband and I subscribe to Consumer Reports In a past issue (several years ago), they did a study on the best ways to remove pesticides from fresh produce. A weak solution of Palmolive dish liquid (just the old green kind) was what they suggested. Rinse well after washing. We used it until we began purchasing organically grown produce. I believe they said it removed upwards of 95% of pesticide residues. Check out back issues to be sure. Every issue has an alphabetical index in the back listing all past articles and which issues to find them in. We used to get them all from the library when we needed them.
I use baking soda to wash my veggies it works as much as Fit. Sometimes I use 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice to 2 Tablespoons of baking soda with 1 cup of water. I put this mixture in a sprayer bottle to spray my veggies with. Let it sit for a few minutes then rinse. Works well for me.
Both Amway and Shaklee sell organic cleansers that can be used for fruits and veggies.
I would first question your desire to use such a product or a substitute. I have read a few consumer articles on the subject, and come to my own conclusion that buying such products results in the washing away of your money, and little else.
This "FIT" product claims to remove "98% more chemicals than water alone". I have read articles from reliable sources (the CBC being one) that state that roughly 90% of produce on the market have either no detectable residues or less than 10% of the allowable levels. In other words, there's nothing (or very little) to wash off. The makers of FIT were approached to offer a rebuttal, but they wouldn't even confirm which "chemicals" their product was capable of removing.
The one danger in all the hype about pesticide use is that people may be discouraged from consuming fruits and vegetables unless they are sprayed with a product like FIT. I think a dose of common sense will tell you that such cleaners are excessive. Here are a few tips (which many food related organizations would concur with) on keeping your fruits and vegetables eatable:
1. Wash with water. Use a scrub brush and rinse well.
2. Discard outer leaves of leafy vegetables.
3. Scrub melons with water or produce wash before cutting. Rinse well.
4. Some produce can be peeled, but this is not necessary.
5. Cut produce on a clean cutting board with a clean knife.
6. Thaw meats on a separate tray or plate in the refrigerator to prevent meat juices from dripping into produce drawers.
7. Clean and sanitize the refrigerator produce drawer regularly.
I hope you reconsider your desire to try an expensive vegetable cleaner.
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