4 Easy Ways to Wash Vegetables from Your Farmers Market Haul

Rinsing away pesky bugs is only one reason we should wash fresh vegetables.

Hands holding a metal strainer full of red peppers, onions, lettuce leaves, tomatoes and oranges under a running faucet
Shutterstock / 5 second Studio

When the better part of your Saturday morning is spent happily comparing fresh leafy greens and rainbow-colored bell peppers at a local farmers market, it’s safe to say that hunting for veggies is more than just a routine part of grocery shopping–it’s an experience, and a fun one at that. Before you start whipping up that veggie casserole, though, it’s crucial to properly wash and prep your produce. Trust us! The 10 minutes it’ll take is definitely worth your health and safety. Here are my four favorite methods for quickly washing produce:

1. Rinse in cold running water

Best for: Delicate produce

It’s wise to first get rid of any germs on your hands so they don’t transfer to the freshly picked veggies. After washing your hands with warm water and soap, gather the vegetables and cut off any visibly damaged areas with a sharp knife. We know it’s tempting, but don’t peel the veggies just yet–simply rinse them under cold water in a sink, rubbing each section gently. Once you’ve patted the vegetables dry with a paper towel, you’re free to peel and prepare them any way you’d like. If the veggies are tightly packed, like those delicious cherry tomatoes you couldn’t resist snatching up, be sure to separate them to rinse each one.

2. Soak

Best for: Tightly packed, unevenly textured vegetables

Reaching every nook and cranny can seem next to impossible with broccoli, cauliflower and any other farmers market finds that sport a rough, bumpy texture. Since simply rinsing these types of vegetables won’t guarantee complete cleanliness, it’s best to soak them, too. Fill a large pot with cool water. Add the vegetables and turn each one so that every inch gets wet. Allow them to collectively soak for about two minutes, then rinse each one thoroughly; this ensures that any lingering dirt particles and contaminants hiding in the veggies’ raised exteriors are washed away completely. Never soak porous vegetables like mushrooms.

3. Scrub with a vegetable brush

Best for: Firm vegetables

The sturdier the veggie, the easier it is to scrape away leftover residue from pesticides. Using a produce brush, scrub cucumbers, squash and other types of firm vegetables while simultaneously rinsing them in cold water. Once they’re all clean, blot dry with a cloth. The bristles of a vegetable brush also work hard to remove any small garden bugs that are clinging for dear life–most definitely an incentive to get them squeaky clean. Learn how to make a homemade fruit and vegetable wash.

4. Wash vegetables with a white vinegar solution

Best for: Any veggie begging for a deep clean

Vegetables are pretty low-maintenance, and can be disinfected with just water–most of the time. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration advises against the use of detergents, soap or any other commercial product altogether while cleaning them. However, for those of you who are extra wary of getting a foodborne illness from a contaminated veggie, a homemade white vinegar solution can be used to sterilize them. Combine 1½ cups water with ½ cup white vinegar and add a teaspoon of lemon juice. Soak or spray veggies with the mixture, and dry with a clean towel. The acidic cleaner is completely safe, and let’s be real-if there’s a chance to use white vinegar, we’re the first to jump on it. Learn how to wash potatoes.

The moral of the story: Just because your veggies are farm fresh does not mean they’re free of dirt, bugs, pesticide elements or bacteria that could potentially cause food poisoning. These four quick steps will keep produce cleaner and fresher and make them taste that much better–so you can enjoy every bite without having to worry.

Once you’re finished cleaning the veggies, use them up with our favorite recipes for roasted vegetables!

Ways to Love Roasted Veggies
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Taylor Murphy
Taylor has been working in digital media for 10 years. She started out as an editorial assistant at Good Housekeeping and House Beautiful, and shortly after that, became a full-time freelancer for brands like Taste of Home, Eating Well, Parents and Popsugar. Her coverage spans topics of food news, product roundups, parenting and human interest articles. When she’s not writing, Taylor is on the hunt for the best coffee or having fun in the kitchen taste-testing recipes with her kids.