Tip of the Week: Washing Vegetables
It is summertime, which means if you can get to a small patch of dirt, you can probably grow some of your own fresh vegetables. Spinach and leaf lettuce are really easy to grow. If you have pots of planting soil or reasonably decent dirt, you can put the seeds in the ground about ¼ to ½ inch deep. Water and wait. When the leaves are about 3- 4 inches tall, you cut the leaves off – leave about an inch, wash the leaves and drain the water off and then eat. You can put the leaves on sandwiches or put any salad dressing on them.
The cool thing about leaf lettuce and spinach – as well as collard greens or kale – is that if you cut them off at an inch above the ground, the leaf will grow back and you can cut them again. Other great vegetables to grow that will give you healthy food from the end of June till October would be tomatoes and peppers. Any of these vegetables can be grown in the ground directly, or in a bucket or pot, or in a bag of planting soil that has a hole cut through the bag. Many times you can even buy these as plants and many stores to take home and plant in dirt. These vegetable plants will continue to grow vegetables until the fall when they freeze.
Washing any fruits or vegetables before you eat them, whether you grow them yourself or whether you buy them is important. It gets rid of dirt and any other residue that may still be on the produce before you eat it.
You do not need anything fancy to wash vegetables, just water and a little time. It might be good if the vegetable is really dirty to use a soft brush or peel it before eating it. Consider this, once while I was at a farmer’s market, I heard a customer say, “Oh, the potatoes have dirt on them… yuck.” The woman who owned the market turned around away from the lady and under her breath said, “Wow, maybe she did not know potatoes grow in dirt …” This dirt on the potatoes certainly helped confirm that they were fresh, but also still needed washed before eating.
Wherever you get your vegetables or fruit, just be sure to clean them right before you eat them. For more information on how grow, buy or preserve food by freezing or canning foods, check out the Purdue Cooperative Extension Service at www.extension.purdue.edu . For specifics about how to wash spinach, broccoli or strawberries you can follow this link www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/CFS/CFS-754-W.pdf
Enjoy your summer full of great fruits and vegetables!
Director of Curriculum & Education and Mother of Six