Red meat can house bacteria such as E. Coli and salmonella, so it’s only natural that you want to give it a quick rinse. However, washing red meat is a fruitless activity, as small trickles of water won’t remove any harmful microbes. In fact, all it will do will spread bacteria across your kitchen, so it’s best to avoid washing red meat altogether.
The clue’s in the name – you never have to wash pre-washed salads. Not only is washing salads a waste of water, but you may inadvertently introduce the greens to unsanitary sink conditions, increasing the risk of the food carrying bacteria. Trust the label, pre-washed salads are perfectly safe to put straight on your plate.
When you open a packet of mushrooms, you’re usually greeted by a mass of soil, leading to some people washing the food with water. Avoid this mistake, and simply brush the soil off with a firm brush. Washing mushrooms with water causes them to absorb the liquid, drastically changing their taste and texture.
Avoid washing pasta – before or after you’ve cooked it. Exposing pasta to a deep clean will strip it of its starch, making it harder for any sauce to cling to the food. The only exception to this rule is if you’re not serving it hot, where giving the pasta a quick rinse will prevent it from clumping together, creating a more aesthetically pleasing salad.
Washing chicken is one of the biggest hygiene risks in a kitchen. When you place raw chicken under a running tap, water droplets splatter all over your sink and countertops – droplets that could contain the very bacteria you’re trying to avoid. Avoid the risk of salmonella by cooking chicken straight from the packet.
Shop-bought eggs are coated with a protective layer that prevents any harmful microbes from penetrating their shells. Deeply washing and scrubbing eggs will remove this layer, increasing the risk of the food carrying harmful bacteria. The only eggs you should wash are ones procured directly from a farm.
Washing seafood may be instinctual. After all, fish can carry salmonella and scombroid poisoning, making a rinse under the tap all too tempting. However, washing fish will only spread these bacteria, increasing your risk of getting food poisoning. Instead, keep raw fish separate from your other food, frequently wash your hands, and ensure the seafood is cooked through.
Short-grain risotto rice should never be washed before you cook it. This particular type of rice is high in starch, and exposing the risotto to water will remove its starch content, completely changing the texture, flavor, and appearance of the dish. The same rules apply for paella – where you’re better off just cooking it straight from the packet!
Frozen fruits and vegetables
Frozen fruits and veggies are good to go straight from the bag, saving you both time and water. These frozen goods are thoroughly cleaned and washed before they’re bagged, often blanched before they’re packaged. The freezing process also locks in key nutrients, meaning you may be washing vital vitamins down the sink if you did decide to wash them prior to cooking.
The last thing you want at Thanksgiving is to give your guests food poisoning. However, washing your turkey in the kitchen sink actually increases this risk. Placing it under running water will cause bacteria to bounce off the poultry’s carcass, resulting in an unhygienic kitchen. Properly cooking your turkey will ensure that all bacteria are killed, removing the need to wash it.
Some consumers wash bacon, thinking that coating the meat in water lowers its overall salt content and removes bacteria. In reality, placing your bacon under the faucet results in spreading harmful microbes across your kitchen. Cook bacon straight from the packet – but ensure you wash your hands after handling the meat.
The whitish film you see coating your grapes isn’t from bacteria or pesticides. Quite the opposite – it’s a waxy coating produced by the fruit to protect it from damage and infection. The bloom is completely safe to eat, though it can taste bitter, meaning you may want to remove it. Only rinse your grapes right before you plan on eating them.
Washing your onions is a waste of time and water. Any lingering dirt is found on the outer layer of the onion, a layer that you peel and discard. When you cook the vegetable, any harmful bacteria is immediately killed off, making a pre-cook soak entirely unnecessary. However, if you’re eating the onion raw, a quick rinse won’t hurt.
While many herbs need to be washed to remove any traces of dirt you don’t want to be mixed into your meal, there are some exceptions. Tarragon, for example, is too delicate to be deeply soaked, with the leaves easily tearing into useless chunks. If you insist on cleaning tarragon, hand wash it gently under slow, trickling water.
These citrus fruits don’t need to be pre-washed, as their natural casing keeps any nasty bacteria or traces of dirt at bay. However, if you’re planning on using the zest of an orange, it’s recommended to give it a thorough clean to remove any pesticides.
It’s true that you need to wash potatoes, as they’re some of the dirtiest fresh produce going. However, you shouldn’t wash them too far in advance. Soaking potatoes in water before storing them can lead to increased levels of dampness, increasing the risk of the veg spoiling. Only rinse your potatoes right before you plan on cooking them.
The thick peel of the banana protects the fruit from any potential contaminants, making washing them a redundant affair. The only time you may want to consider giving a banana a rinse is if it’s been sitting in your fruit bowl for a while, where fruit flies may cover the exterior of the fruit.
While storing fresh dill, be mindful that exposing the plant to water and moisture can result in decayed leaves, resulting in a useless herb. Only give dill a brief rinse just before you plan on adding it to your dish, washing off any present pesticides.
Bags of pre-cut vegetables are usually already washed by the manufacturer, making washing them again completely redundant. Check the label on the bag – if it says the contents have been pre-washed, you’re safe to skip the rinse and immediately begin the cooking process, saving precious seconds.
Washing lamb under the tap will only spread dangerous bacteria across your kitchen, putting you and your family at a higher risk of contracting serious illnesses such as salmonella and E. Coli. Prevent cross-contamination, and cook your lamb shanks straight from the packet, the high levels of heat will kill off any harmful microbes.
Blueberries need to be carefully inspected for any moldy, soft, or otherwise rotten fruits. While it’s true that you also need to rinse blueberries – washing off any potential pesticides or bacteria – ensure you only do so just before eating them, as exposing the berries to water can promote mold growth.
It doesn’t make a huge deal of sense to wash ginger if you’re only going to peel off the outer layer moments later, making it safe to cook with just as it is. However, if you don’t plan on peeling the root, ensure you give it a quick rinse.
Buying pre-prepared sushi is ready to eat exactly as it is, meaning you don’t need to place it under the tap. In fact, washing sushi can lead to cross-contamination, spreading the microbes of the raw fish across your kitchen surfaces. Skip the wash, and tuck in.
Of course, you should wash your veg, as they’re usually accompanied by high levels of dirt. However, make sure you don’t overdo it – using soaps and vinegar on your leafy greens can have detrimental effects on both their flavor and texture. A brief rinse under the tap is all veg needs to be ready to eat.
Pre-cooked meats and poultry are already washed before they’re processed, with any lingering bacteria being killed off during the cooking process. Deli meats such as ham, turkey slices, and chicken strips are all good to eat exactly as they are, straight out of the packet, including their vegan counterparts.
Seeing as you immediately peel garlic before you incorporate it into your dish, there’s no need to wash the outer layer. If there are any specks of dirt on your garlic bulb, simply brush them off. Washing the food will damage it, altering its pungent taste.
Most dried fruits are ready to eat straight from the packet, with the cleaning process done in the manufacturing process. However, many people choose to soak the fruit to remove any sulfites that are present. Ultimately, washing dried fruit comes down to your personal preference.
Prepackaged slaw mix is ready to be chucked in with your other salad items, forgoing an unnecessary wash or rinse. Most slaw mixes are already washed during production before they’re bagged up, but it’s always wise to check the label just in case, as some brands may differ.
Edible flowers make a wonderful addition to any baked good, bringing a pop of bright color. These garnishes do not need to be washed before they’re applied to your cake and are safe to eat exactly as they are. In fact, washing edible flowers will damage the petals, ruining the overall aesthetic.
It’s important to wash cranberries before consuming them, removing any potentially harmful bacteria. However, if you’re planning on freezing the fruit, it’s best to hold off the rinse. Washing the fruits before freezing them can lead to mushy berries – so only give them a bathe if you’re planning on immediately eating them.
If the packet says they’re ready to eat, then there’s no need to wash packaged nuts. Almonds, cashews, and peanuts are usually all good to be consumed right away, allowing you to feast on the tasty snack without the slog of having to take a lengthy trip to the sink.
There’s no need to wash canned beans – they’re ready to go straight from the tin. Rinsing the food can introduce higher levels of moisture into your dish, ruining its overall texture. Leaving beans in their brine also keeps their salt content intact, keeping their tasty flavor.
There’s an endless debate on whether you should wash lettuce before eating it. While washing the greens can rid the produce of any lingering bacteria, most lettuces are pre-washed before they’re packaged. Furthermore, you shouldn’t consume the outer layer of a lettuce, making washing it redundant. Still, it can’t hurt to give it a quick rinse, just in case.
Avocados should be washed
The outer rind of the the avocado prevents any nasty bacteria from spoiling its tasty insides, leading to many people thinking they can skip the washing process. However, the FDA recommends that you give the food a quick rinse, preventing any bacteria from being consumed.
Melons need a cleanse
Although the outer layer of melons protects the fruit from harboring any harmful bacteria or pesticides, you may still want to consider giving it a wash. This is because the knife you use to slice through the fruit can transfer any bacteria to its interior, bacteria you’ll consume only moments later. Give your melon a wash – it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Strawberries should be soaked
These sweet fruits can harbor all manner of dirt, bacteria, and pesticides, making washing them an important step. However, only wash strawberries just before you plan on eating them. Washing them too far in advance will add moisture to the fruit, making their texture soggy, while promoting mold growth.
Rinse off soda cans
Although grabbing a can may quench your thirst, it can also lead to you consuming high levels of bacteria. The rim of the can houses several harmful microbes, caused by dust, rats, and general dirt. One study found the bacteria on the cans can even cause staph infections, meaning it’s best to give your can a wipe down before bringing it to your lips.
Always wash canned goods
Strange as it may sound, you should be routinely washing the outside of your tinned goods. The exterior of these cans can house an array of bacteria, picked up from warehouses and shipping locations. Use a smidge of soapy water and give your cans a wipe to ensure you keep ill health at bay.
Ensure apples are clean
Apples are another vital item to give a rinse over. Not only will doing so remove any traces of dirt, but it’ll also get rid of any pesticides farmers use. Although these pesticides may encourage healthy fruit growth, the chemicals aren’t recommended for human consumption, making a quick rinse vital.
Rice needs a rinse
Washing your rice is important for both the texture of the food and for your health. When running rice under the tap, you drain excess starch, stopping your meal from becoming clumpy and flavorless. Furthermore, rinsing rice removes any traces of dirt and bacteria, keeping harmful illnesses at bay.