From mushrooms to windowsill herbs, these vegetables—and one fruit—require a gentle scrub before cooking (or eating them raw).

By Lynn Andriani
June 24, 2019
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Brett Stevens

Everyone is looking for shortcuts in the kitchen and it can be tempting to skip washing some vegetables when you're removing outer leaves and not using them or because you've heard that water will compromise their flavor and texture. And why wash a fruit when you're not going to eat its skin? Here we lay out why home-grown herbs, cabbage, iceberg lettuce, mushrooms, and kiwis all require a careful rinse before you use them in salads or in cooking.

Home-Grown Herbs

The parsley, sage, thyme and basil you've grown in your own backyard (or even your windowsill) are indeed lovely to look at, smell wonderful, and are a flavorful addition to so many dishes. But just because you cared for them lovingly doesn't mean that they're pristine. Whether backyard critters have taken a nibble or a bird has left its mark, the herbs may be dirty, so give them a careful wash before using them. Rinse a small handful of herbs under cool, running water; shake them dry and then pat with a paper towel or give them a turn in a salad spinner.

Iceberg Lettuce

If you're making a salad with iceberg or shredding it for sandwiches, you'd wash it just as you would wash any other type of leafy green, by removing the leaves, rinsing them under cool water and then spinning them dry in a salad spinner. But if you're making an iceberg wedge salad and don't want to separate the leaves you still need to wash the lettuce: give the head a good rinse under cool running water and gently pat it dry. Then, set it on a cutting board and remove any wilted outer leaves before cutting into wedges.

Mushrooms

There's a common myth that you shouldn't wash mushrooms because they'll absorb the water. That's not true, mushrooms actually absorb very little water because they're 90 percent water already. There's no need to tediously brush away all the debris; instead, the fast, easy and effective method is to plunge them into water, turn them with your hands and then remove them to a clean, cotton towel to pat dry.

Cabbage

The outer layer isn't going to be eaten so why wash it? There's good reason: Worms or other insects could be inside the cabbage, so to be safe, remove the thick outer leaves, cut the cabbage into wedges, and rinse them in a colander under running water. Shake them dry as best as you can, then pat them with a clean cotton towel to remove additional moisture.

Kiwi

The fuzzy skin on these sweet fruits is indeed edible and we've probably suggested you eat it rather than waste it-it's full of fiber and vitamin C. Keeping the skin on also makes it easier for snacking, since even if you slice it, the skin holds the kiwi together. If you're going to consume kiwi skin, be sure to wash it first by running the fruit under cool water and drying it with a paper or cotton towel.

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