It is getting to be that time of year when local fruits and vegetables are available through farm markets and roadside stands. Look for a fresh-looking produce free of bruises, mold, and shriveling. Buy only what you can use within a few days and handle gently. Bruised product spoils quickly. Store your produce without washing it. Moisture is needed for pathogens to grow so wait until right before using the produce to wash it. And, wash only the amount you will use for a single meal. If the produce is muddy, wash and pat dry with paper toweling before storing.
When you are ready to use the stored produce, wash it thoroughly with water that is slightly warm water (between 80 degrees and 110 degrees F.). It is not recommended to use soap, dish detergent, or chlorine bleach. Salad products should be washed in colder water to keep them crisp. Don’t soak produce in the water. Too much water will lead to loss of flavor, texture and aroma.
Once your produce is ready to serve, refrigerate or use it within 2 hours (if left at room temperature). Throw out any leftovers that have not been used within the 2 hour limit. If you purchase cut produce, make sure it has been stored at refrigerator temperatures to prevent the growth of pathogens.
Throughout the summer months enjoy fresh produce from your local markets, but handle it safely.
Author: Linnette Mizer Goard, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.
Source: Ohio State University Extension, Safe Handling of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables, Ohioline HYG-5353-10 http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/5000/pdf/5353.pdf