Does anyone REALLY wash veggies with soap? Or is it just my compulsive husband?

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Joined Feb 1, 2007
I'm convinced this is true, but many say it isn't. 

Wait a minute. We use salt specifically to draw liquid out of foods. Why would it be different with mushrooms?  I'd like to hear the reasoning from one of those who says it ain't so.
 
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I'm convinced this is true, but many say it isn't. 

Wait a minute. We use salt specifically to draw liquid out of foods. Why would it be different with mushrooms?  I'd like to hear the reasoning from one of those who says it ain't so.
ask anyone who brines!  I'm convinced salted meat lets out more water.  But the food scientists have said no.  My chicken thread was about that - when i put salt in the marinade it seems it leaks tons of water in the oven, though i haven't done controlled trials with meat from the same source, salting one and not salting the other.  Intuitively, it makes sense not to salt first. 
 
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  As far as insecticides and fungicides I have know idea how much good rinsing really does.  Or even salmonella, you dont just rinse off the cutting board after working with chicken, so I guess its safe to think it wouldnt just rinse off of a tomato either.  I'd say for the husband, he should just use a brush and warm water, no soap.  The veg wash I've seen I thought was some kind of grapefruit extract. 

The other thing I never got a straight answer on concerning e-coli is whether or not a plant can take up the bacteria through the roots.  Can the bacteria be internal in the veggie or sprout or whatever.  To the best of my knowledge its not possible.  So when you hear about sprouts getting the bacteria from infected seeds, I guess its just being in the same general proximity?  Does it matter anyway?  Would the e-coli wash just wash off the surface of a sprout, or is it that people dont generally wash them?  Last year it was spinach right?  Who doesnt wash spinach, makes you wonder why the outbreaks.  

Its probably more important to wash wild mushrooms than the commercial ones since they're more likely to come into contact with birds, rodents, animals, whatever could spread something.  I like to cook the button mushrooms very high heat also, especially since learning all Agaricus have some kind of toxin thats is killed by high heat, must be something relatively mild since we've been eating them raw forever.          
 

kcz

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I was thinking about this tonight while making pizza.  The amount of water in/on mushrooms probably doesn't matter when sauteing because it cooks off readily, but what about pizza?  The water goes onto the  cheesy surface of the pizza, where it can't be beneficial.  Does anyone pre-cook their mushrooms and get rid of the excess water when making pizza, savory turnovers, or something else where a little extra water isn't desirable?

(I need to stop thinking and get a real hobby.)
 
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10 oz dry-brushed button mushrooms

rinsed in cold water, then soaked for two minutes (In hind-sight I should have weighed them right after rinsing and draining as well for more complete information)

drained, but not hand-dried:

gain of 1.1 oz = 11% weight gain of water

thoroughly hand-dried:

gain of .45 oz = 4.5% gain of water absorption

That's a substantial enough of a difference for myself to stick to dry-brushing my mushrooms.  The water absorption would likely be at least halved again if rinsed and then hand-dried quickly, but, to my mind, that's not all that comes into play in the decision.  Mushrooms require little-to-no external chemical environmental control agents to thrive.  There is always the question of commercially grown foods, however.  I can't say with any real authority (without doing some truly sober research) how much of any pesticide agent is used on the typical big-agro business mushroom crop, but, I'd venture to guess that a good dry-brush will remove as much, maybe even more, pesticides than a rinse without a hand-dry.  On the note of mushrooms being grown in cow manure: well, yes and no.  Commercial mushrooms are grown in composted soil which contains manure (not always from cows) as an ingredient.  Much of the best produce is grown using manure.  I don't have a problem with it. 
Why on earth would you rinse the mushrooms and THEN soak them?  Why would you soak them at all?  Obviously soaking is going to make them absorb something.  But if you wash them quickly one by one under running water, rubbing where there is dirt attached, holding them with the gills down if the gills are open (or whatever they;re called) you won't get any water.   (And it's a lot less time than brushing them dry! that's my main objection).

You don't need a salad spinner to spin them dry, you can shake one by one.  But then i never have the wild kind, just the usual varieties of cultivated ones. Never saw a morel for sale where i shop. 
The soaking in the test is more to get at the question of how much and how quickly mushrooms absorb liquid.  For instance, if one were to have the task of preparing an entire case of mushrooms, and that person opted to rinse the mushrooms in water, not hand drying them one-by-one, then the majority of water on the surface will be absorbed as opposed to evaporated.  Given my test results, if one does not make sure to hand dry their mushrooms every two minutes (that's a lot of switching about if you have a 1/2 hour worth of mushroom cleaning to do) then that water will be absorbed.  Apparently others have had differing results when testing absorption rates.  In my experience, a good dry brushing gets mushrooms just as clean as a rinse, and I, personally, am faster at it.  Since it's not a difficult task by any means, I would expect anyone else to be able to do it as fast as I can, even if it requires a bit of practice.  So as far as expedience, I prefer brushing as well.  On the point of morels...  here's a picture:



Those channels go pretty deep into the cap structure and functionally capture liquids, much like the ribs of radiatori pasta is intended to.  In any case, I didn't intend to hijack the thread with my own tangent.  I don't use soap on fruit or vegetables, either.  I had enough of washing my mouth out with soap as a kid.  /img/vbsmilies/smilies/tongue.gif
 
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My take on speed is that you have to cut off the root end of every mushroom anyway, you can do that while you have it under running water - soaking them in water would take almost the same time, because you still have to cut the root off. 

Brushing them takes longer than holding it under water with one hand and rubbing quicklywith the other - washing cleans them more efficiently because the force of the water is also working, not just your hand  - and it's much quicker in my experience than brushing. If you have a small sharp knife, you cut, use the same hand with the knife in it to rub over the surfaces where dirt is clinging, and shake it with the other hand to dry, put in a towel-lined basket while you pick up the next with the knife hand.  I think i do them as quickly as you would soaking, and quicker than if you brush them (having two tools is always more complicated, you either have to switch, put one down, pick up the other etc, or do all the cutting first and all the brushing later, but you still have to handle them twice, and that cuts into time as well, if not that much.

Same with strawberries, since hyou have to pull off the green part, i do that while rinsing under running water, and the hand that pulls off the top also rubs quickly around.  

Sometimes i use a knife and cut the top (usually i use my nails) and then i cut them after the wash, and throw directly into the bowl, if i want to sugar them and let them form juice.  I never soak them or even wash them quickly in a bowl, because i still have to take off the green part. 

I don;t work in a professional kitchen where i would have to do a case of mushrooms (phew) but i imagine it';s the same.  I don't like doing this kind of prep work, so i try to make it as quick as possible.   
 
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Those channels go pretty deep into the cap structure and functionally capture liquids,......

.....and dirt, bits of forest duff, and insects as well.

Nice picture, though.
 
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As for me, it is a little bit strange to use the soup washing the vegetables. I just rinse and have no problem. What is the necessity of using the soup? To have dysentery?
 
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I was thinking about this tonight while making pizza.  The amount of water in/on mushrooms probably doesn't matter when sauteing because it cooks off readily, but what about pizza?  The water goes onto the  cheesy surface of the pizza, where it can't be beneficial.  Does anyone pre-cook their mushrooms and get rid of the excess water when making pizza, savory turnovers, or something else where a little extra water isn't desirable?

(I need to stop thinking and get a real hobby.)
KCZ - I personally just slice 'shrooms very finely when using on pizzas and have them right on the top, lots of heat, they seem to go ok and I'm not dead yet :)  As for a savoury turnover, I would cook them off first to dry them out a bit as they won't be in contact with direct heat, and will steam up inside the pastry.  Same for beef or any type of wellingtons - you're duc sel (sp?) needs to be pretty dry or again you'll get the soggieness.
 
 
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I don't cook my mushrooms before putting them on my pizza.  I slice them thickly and place them on top.  The oven is set to 500F for pizza so I've never had a problem with them releasing too much moisture.  But I agree with DC that when mushrooms are used as a stuffing in calzones or pastry that they need to be cooked first otherwise they steam up too much.
 
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As for me, it is a little bit strange to use the soup washing the vegetables. I just rinse and have no problem. What is the necessity of using the soup? To have dysentery?
Soap. The intention was to remove pesticides.   Whatever is in soap that helps dislodge oily stuff, why we use it to wash our hands and the dishes.  I can follow the logic of using it on veggies, but never been tempted to do so.  Much of what is sprayed on the food probably contains an oil to prevent the chemical from just rinsing away with the rain, so it makes a little sense.  
 
 
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I actually have worked for 2 really big chain restaurants that had different vegetable rinse, one was powder that you mix with a sink full of water and soak all the veggies you were about to prep and the other auto mixed the solution you just pushed a button and washed what you need.

Should you clean your veggies better than a simple rinse? Probably

Should you use hand or dish soap on your vegetables? No

If I had to decide between the two, I would just rinse but look around for a vegetable rinse where you shop or find one online(I think someone posted a link above) and then you can both be happy ;)
 
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I have to say, the thought of using soap never occurred to me.  I'd be worried about the food absorbing some of the soapy water.  So in an attempt to get rid of one harmful substance your husband is probably introducing another.  The best way to avoid pesticides is to buy organic, buy from local farmers who don't use pesticides, etc. 
 
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...The best way to avoid pesticides is to buy organic, buy from local farmers who don't use pesticides, etc. 
IMHO, "buying organic" is not a valid way of avoiding pesticides, man-made or otherwise. Buying from those that you KNOW employ the practices that you agree with might be.

From personal experience, many "organic farms" employ nicotine, pyrethrins , or soaps for pest control, and those items are not really the most healthful items to ingest!
 
 
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Never Soap - ALWAYS Vinegar.

I keep a fully locked-and-loaded industrial spray bottle of 100% (Non-Diluted) White Distilled Vinegar in the kitchen at all times.

NOTHING gets cut, cooked or served without getting sprayed, hand-rubbed and rinsed first.

Potatoes, Lettuce, Peppers, I don't care - Everything gets a vinegar treatment and rinse before anything else happens.

Using soap is really trading one set of chemicals and problems for another. If he is really really paranoid - Just replace a hydrogen peroxide bottle cap with a sprayer nozzle and go the five-step germ-o-cide route:

1. Place all veg/whatever product in large strainer and rinse under cold water.

2. Place strainer in equal size bowl and fill up bowl with cold water while you add a half cup of kosher salt and cup of vinegar.

3. Hand-wash everything inside the bowl.

4. Remove bowl, rinse strainer-full of product under cold running water as you spray the hell out of it with the hydro-peroxide.

5. Keep rinsing until you feel it is clean enough, or all product has lost it's color, luster and structural integrity.

But keep the soap away from the food! They even have high-end fruit/veg "cleaner" that you can buy - but it is nothing more than citric acid and other stuff you can replace with good old fashioned white vinegar.
 
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Two questions, trooper:

Why wash potatoes with vinegar when they'll be cooked? 

does vinegar remove pesticides? and if yes, how do you know that?  Don't pesticides penetrate into the food?  And if you peel potatoes, you've removed all you can remove that hasn't penetrated, so why spray them except for germs, and what germ is killed by vinegar and not by boiling water???

I'm amazed at how much people wash stuff.  I rinse vegetables, wash fruit rubbing under running water just before i eat it (rubbing seems a lot more effective than spraying or rinsing) unless i peel it in which case i don't wash it (bananas, oranges).  I don't use any spray, commercial or vinegar for the surfaces - simple detergent to get rid of grease. 

Yet I think i've had one half sick day off work in the last ten years.  (Well, it helps when you're self employed not to take sick days, since your boss never really believes you're sick!)

But i seem to get no more than one cold a year, and little else.  Same with the rest of the family.   What am i missing?

Just to explain further - my mother was a germ freak back in the 50s, and sterilized toys and everything - my brother had no immune system at all, and got every disease in the book his first year of school, including pneumonia.  I got a slightly less paranoid treatment and was slightly less sick.  My kids were rarely sick and played in the dirt and ate things that fell on the floor (I was reacting to the excesses i'd grown up with).  So what is the advantage?

 
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Potatoes have to be hand scrubbed inder water to remove some of the dirt. If you drop potatoes in boiling water without washing them, the water will be a mess. If you slice them and fry them unwashed, the bottom of the pan will turn into a gunky mess. If you peel a russet without washing it, your peeler will be chewing through dirt and crud that will dull the blade faster.

MOST of what I cook will be peeled/pithed/pitted/seeded/whaever anyway - so why bother, right?

    - Because if it hits the board dirty - all the clean insides will be as dirty as the outside as soon as the skin is broken.

I'm responsible for what I put on someone else's plate. If that person is your brother, a child, an elderly person, an AIDS or acute allergy person - I am responsible for the lifecycle of my ingredients and my food from the moment they come into my possession until the moment it is presented to them. If I skip a step, take a shortcut, neglect a detail - I could harm someone who trusts me enough to eat my food. Not only would that be negative for them - It honestly would destroy me as well.

If someone wants tar-tar, seviche, sashimi, oysters, carpaccio or something else they should know has risks, fine. I will control the production environment as cleanly as possible.

If I make a salad with unwashed or only lightly-rinsed ingredients and serve it with Caesar to an already sick person who is trusting me to do a good service for them - I have failed them.

It is true we can't always know what the farmer used, or what the farmer next door to him used to treat their crops.

We can't always know if the product was waxed or chloroformed on the way from the field, or if it was from GM seeds.

We can't know if the harvester wiped his butt with his hand and then sneazed on that tomato before it went into that salad either.

Due Dillagence is what we CAN do. It is what we DO have control over. I'm not suggesting that we irradiate everything and soak it in floquat over night.

Quote:
Two questions, trooper:

Why wash potatoes with vinegar when they'll be cooked? 

does vinegar remove pesticides? and if yes, how do you know that?  Don't pesticides penetrate into the food?  And if you peel potatoes, you've removed all you can remove that hasn't penetrated, so why spray them except for germs, and what germ is killed by vinegar and not by boiling water???

I'm amazed at how much people wash stuff.  I rinse vegetables, wash fruit rubbing under running water just before i eat it (rubbing seems a lot more effective than spraying or rinsing) unless i peel it in which case i don't wash it (bananas, oranges).  I don't use any spray, commercial or vinegar for the surfaces - simple detergent to get rid of grease. 

Yet I think i've had one half sick day off work in the last ten years.  (Well, it helps when you're self employed not to take sick days, since your boss never really believes you're sick!)

But i seem to get no more than one cold a year, and little else.  Same with the rest of the family.   What am i missing?

Just to explain further - my mother was a germ freak back in the 50s, and sterilized toys and everything - my brother had no immune system at all, and got every disease in the book his first year of school, including pneumonia.  I got a slightly less paranoid treatment and was slightly less sick.  My kids were rarely sick and played in the dirt and ate things that fell on the floor (I was reacting to the excesses i'd grown up with).  So what is the advantage?

 
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We can do all we want . The government should do their job and check the plants and the farms to assure the public that they are getting wholesome foods, and if not have the authority to close the places down. That peanut butter plant is still open as is the place where all the bad eggs came from. Has any one on this sight ever had someone made sick by their handeling of a product. But then how many people were made sick by meat from the plant who's products were contaminated with E coli or Salmonella.?
 
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I usually peel potatoes with a knife. Yes, if you boil them whole, unpeeled, i would wash first. 

I wouldn't fry an unwashed potato, of course.  Unless it's peeled, and then i rinse off the residual dirt that stuck to my hands, etc. 

But why vinegar? 

What does it get rid of?  pesticides?  germs?  (If i'm cooking it, the germs are going to be gone anyway).

I hadn't noticed you're a personal chef, so of course your situation is different from mine - i cook for a very healthy family - no particular immune-system problems.  In a professional kitchen it's a different story.  But is vinegar a protection, and against what does it protect?

thanks
 
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