Generally, we wash vegetables with plain tap water to remove the visible grime and grease. While that may be effective, it does not get rid of small pathogens or pesticide residues that coat nearly 70% of all produce.
Fortunately, you don’t need to splurge on a commercial produce wash to remove unwanted bacteria — just plain vinegar will do it.
Here’s a detailed guide on how to clean vegetables with vinegar, why you should do it, and how it works.
Should You Wash Vegetables With Vinegar?
Yes, washing vegetables with vinegar is the most effective way of removing microorganisms and harmful chemicals from the skin.
Fruits and vegetables at the grocery store are sprayed with preservatives to maintain their lifespan. Organic produce at the farmers market may not be sprayed with pesticides, but it likely has bacteria settled on the skin from the open air, and that’s not healthy either.
Rather than using a commercial produce wash that is made with more chemicals, you can wash the veggies with vinegar and water. Even if you’ll be peeling the skins off, it’s better to disinfect the exterior just in case the microbes settle on the flesh.
What Happens When You Put Vinegar on Vegetables?
When we wash vegetables with vinegar, the acetic acid fights away the unwanted bacteria and removes the pesticide residue to preserve the nutrients in the produce. To put it simply, vinegar disinfects vegetables.
White Distilled Vinegar vs. Apple Cider Vinegar: Which is Better to Clean Vegetables
Vinegar of all kinds is great to clean vegetables. You can use white distilled vinegar to save a few bucks or apple cider vinegar for some extra nutrients — it wouldn’t make a difference in the final meal.
Fruits and vegetables soak for only two to five minutes in the acidic solution and then they are thoroughly rinsed off. The vinegar doesn’t have enough time to settle on the flesh and transform the taste.
Unless you’re preserving vegetables, it doesn’t matter what type of vinegar you use.
How to Clean Vegetables With Vinegar?
There are a variety of methods you can use when doing a veggie wash using vinegar. Here are three of the best ones:
1. Vinegar Soak
This is the easiest and most common way to disinfect any kind of produce. Here’s what you’ll need:
- A large, clean bowl
- Cold water
- Vinegar (should have 5% acetic acid)
- Kitchen towel
Once you have everything set up, here’s what you’ll do:
- Fill the bowl with cold tap water
- Add a cup of vinegar (any kind)
- Place the produce in the solution
- Let it soak for at least a minute
- Drain the solution and wash the veggies
- Dry them off on a kitchen towel
2. Apple Cider Vinegar Spray
This is a great way to extend the lifespan of your veggies while killing off bacteria. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Clean spray bottle
- Apple cider vinegar
- Lemon juice
Make sure to take equal parts of each ingredient. Here’s what you’ll do next:
- Add all three ingredients to a spray bottle
- Shake it until it’s a homogenous solution
- Mist the vegetables liberally and coat every nook and cranny
- Let it sit for at least five minutes
- Rinse thoroughly to remove the solution
- Dry the produce on a kitchen towel
3. Vinegar and Baking Soda
This is one of the most recommended ways of cleaning vegetables. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Filtered cold water
- ¼ cup vinegar
- 1½ tsp of baking soda
- A large, clean bowl
- Kitchen towel
When you’ve prepared the ingredients, here’s what you’ll do:
- Fill up the bowl with cold water, and make sure to leave some headspace
- Add the vinegar and mix in the baking soda
- When the solution starts bubbling, quickly add the vegetables
- Let it soak for at least five minutes
- Drain the solution and rinse the veggies
- Lay down the kitchen towel and dry the vegetables
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it better to clean vegetables with vinegar or baking soda?
Considering the alkalinity level of vinegar and baking soda, baking soda is a better cleaning agent. However, it performs best when it is paired with vinegar. The two combine to produce carbon dioxide gas which neutralizes the acidic pesticides on fruits and vegetables removing the harmful bacteria.
Can you wash lettuce with vinegar?
Yes, you can wash lettuce with vinegar. Fill up a bowl with 4 cups of water and add a cup of distilled vinegar with a tablespoon of salt. Place the lettuce in and let it soak for up to five minutes. Rinse thoroughly to remove the dirty solution. You could also use a salad spinner for good measure.
How do chefs wash vegetables?
Chefs usually wash vegetables in large sinks. First, they sanitize the sink and then plug the drain and fill the sink up with water and produce wash. All of the vegetables are added in and left to soak for a minute. While that gets washed, the next batch is disinfected and the cycle repeats until they’re all done.
What should you not put vinegar in?
Vinegar is a wonderful cleaning agent. However, some surfaces will not handle the acidic content well. For instance: cleaning countertops with vinegar will turn them splotchy and smelly. Don’t add it to electrical appliances either like iron, dishwashers, etc. It will damage the mechanics instantly.
Organic produce can be quite expensive but living a healthy life doesn’t have to be. Now that you know how to clean vegetables with vinegar, you can rest assured all your meals will be prepared with ample nutrients and zero pesticides!