Proper Produce Care November 09 2015, 0 Comments
We feel pretty good about ourselves when we eat a lot of produce. Produce is good for us, right? We SHOULD feel awesome when we're eating it!
Of course, we should also make sure that we're getting the most - and the best - from our produce.
From washing to cooking, we've put together a little guide for you on the care that you need to give the produce you have so prudently decided to eat...
For the bulk of your produce, simply rinsing with cold, running water will do the best job. According to studies, just simple, cold water is highly effective at removing most bacteria on produce.
For tough-skinned produce, you can also feel free to use a produce brush, as it can remove any offending clumps of dirt or soil that you want GONE.
As far as produce that has lots of places for bacteria or dirt to hide, you can soak these (and you can actually soak most produce) for 1-2 minutes in cold water - be careful with fragile produce, though! If you are afraid that your produce will fall apart when you soak it, just spray it with cold water instead.
Now, an easy mistake to make is believing that there is no need to wash produce if you're just going to peel it anyway, but we advise against this shortcut. When your peeler or knife goes through the skin to the inner flesh of your produce, it can carry bacteria with it. So, a word to the wise, just go ahead and rinse your produce pre-and-post-peel (it's worth the few extra seconds!).
And, boy, do we have good news for you! In case you haven't heard (and don't feel bad, some of us hadn't heard, either) it is A-OKAY to rinse mushrooms! Gone are the days of wiping down
Go ahead. Rinse those puppies. It's all good.
Cooking - or not:
There is a lot of information out there concerning how best to preserve nutrients in produce, and many opinions for and against various cooking methods. We've done some homework to try and bring you a reasonably weighted explanation of the beneficial methods of cooking BUT, the main point we want to stress is this:
Cook (or don't) your produce the way that will help make you WANT to eat it. With the exception of frying (delicious, but we know it's not very good for us), the consensus seems to be that most cooking methods are not going to make a huge difference in the health-levels of your produce and, since it is SO imperative to eat produce, the most important thing is that you are, in fact, eating it!
In case you're curious, though, here are some things you may not know about cooking produce...
- Microwaving: microwaving has actually been proven as a beneficial cooking method for most vegetables, because it helps them to preserve their antioxidants. The relatively short cooking time of microwaving also leads to less nutrient damage than some other, lengthier methods.
- Sauteing: like microwaving, sauteing is a brief, high-heat method for preparing your veggies, helping to preserve particular nutrients and to retain some vitamins and minerals - especially in vegetables that are tender. Don't be afraid to add a little oil, either! Heart healthy oils can help you get the most out of the fat-soluble nutrients in vegetables, as well as making them tasty enough for you to want to eat a whole bunch!
- Baking/Roasting/Grilling: these cooking methods can help to improve or to retain some of the nutrient levels of particular vegetables such as artichokes, asparagus, green beans, and corn; baking/roasting/grilling vegetables with a little oil can really enhance the flavor, too, because of the charring and/or caramelization that occurs. This is especially helpful if you're not a veggie-love by nature!
- Steaming: if you're a fan of steamed vegetables, be glad to know that steaming can break down cell walls, thereby making nutrients more readily available to our digestive system. Blanching (steaming for about 30-60 seconds and then immediately moving the food to cold water) is also a good way to stop your vegetables from developing the taste that can make them bitter.
So...what's the caveat?
Take all the information you receive about cooked versus raw with a grain of salt. Some of the nutrients in your produce do better cooked, some do better raw. Some produce is healthier overall when cooked, some is better raw. What you really need to make sure you're doing is just eating it!
Sources and more resources: