Everyone asks me about produce cleanser and learning proper food wash guidelines is a big part of my Eat Well Shanghai seminars. In fact, in my soon-to-be published guidebook, I have a whole section on teaching your ayi how to clean produce with pictures of my awesome ayi washing away. But what to wash with is a tough question to answer. I use two different products – one is a Chinese produce cleanser that I got at Carrefour and one is a Taiwanese all-natural produce cleanser that I happened to buy at Hola (which, incidently, is a Taiwanese retailer, and they do have a nice selection of moderately-priced Western, Japanese and imported foods, along with wine – who knew?).
When do I use each different cleanser? Well, the Chinese one (on the left in photo) immediately makes suds, leading me to believe that it is soap based (I cant read the label). I tend to use it on veggies with a high surface area that I intend to cook, such as spinach or Chinese greens. This is because the soap-based products are really effective at removing pesticide residue and high surface area produce is a likely owner of it. But just a little. To use it, I first rinse the spinach briefly with filtered water. Then, I fill a pot with filtered water and add in a drop or two and soak the product for 3-4 minutes (longer than that and you start to lose nutrients). I drain and rinse one more time with filtered water, no more soap.
The natural wash I use for basically everything else – on the surface of apples before I eat them, on fresh tomatoes, for strawberries, etc. And I follow the same drill. Quick rinse, soak with a few drops of the product, rinse again and enjoy. I also do this for organic produce, just as a safeguard.
And the most important thing you can do to prevent any kind of food-borne illness or cooties in your food – wash your hands!