Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, so after X number of years of not blogging, it’s time for a new post.
I was inspired to post again when I Googled “how to sanitize produce coronaviris” yesterday, and saw my post, How To Clean and Disinfect Fruits and Vegetables in Mexico, written in 2010, pop up fourth on Google’s link list. While it stoked my ego to see the most popular post from Cooking in Mexico still showing up on Google, I was concerned that this information is not appropriate for disinfecting against the coronavirus in Mexico, where we sometimes have unsanitary conditions for handling fresh produce.
Yesterday, our neighbor Mary generously offered to shop for us when she did her own shopping in Mascota. Russ and I are not leaving our house if we don’t have to, and so far, we don’t have to, so this offer was most appreciated, but I had to learn right away how to sanitize everything properly before her purchase arrived. U.S. publications say water alone may be sufficient to clean produce for coronavirus, but cleaning with water alone has never been enough to disinfect fruits and vegetables in Mexico, where different practices and handling occur.
This video from Laughing Squid, titled, “Michigan Doctor Offers Advice for Reducing the Risk of Infection When Shopping and Bringing Home Groceries“, is eye opening in its thoroughness, including how to safely bring take-out food home. But I wasn’t sold on using dish soap to wash the fruits and veggies after watching Dr. VanWingen wash apples and oranges in a sink of soapy water. We had cabbage to sanitize, also zucchini, cucumbers, potatoes, onions, garlic, and bananas. He rinsed everything, but it still didn’t appeal to me to wash a head of cabbage with dish soap, since most dish soap contains scents, colors, and hand softeners. The only acceptable soap I can think of is Dr. Bronner’s, but we don’t have any available here.
Following the advice that Clorox bleach is effective against coronavirus, I figured we could use the standard Clorox rinse for produce, a procedure practiced world wide for years. The proportions are two teaspoons of regular bleach (8.25% sodium hypochlorite) to one gallon of clean water, soaked for a minimum of one minute, followed by a rinse with potable (drinking) water. Allow everything to air dry before refrigerating.
Whether you use bleach or dish soap, check out Dr. VanWingen’s video. His procedure is based on hospital procedures. We followed his protocol, doing everything on our front porch, on one of those small, plastic folding tables which was first scrubbed down with dish soap. We used a 5-gallon bucket for the water/bleach mix, and had collanders ready for draining. The box of produce was on the floor beside the table, and I used disposable gloves to transfer items from the box to the bucket. At the time, I didn’t think about rinsing, so nothing was rinsed off, but will be in the future, with a second bucket of potable water on the table. The disposable gloves were thrown away in an outside garbage container, instead of the kitchen garbage can. The new rule is that nothing enters the house that has not been sanitized.
Even fresh eggs we had just brought home from our neighbor’s flock of chickens and ducks were treated to a one minute soak. Not wanting to soak the papery skinned onions and garlic, we put them in a clean cardboard box (one we had prior to the coronavirus outbreak) and left them in the sunshine for hours, turning to expose the different sides to the UV light.
The cardboard egg carton was placed in the yard for the remainder of the afternoon to be sanitzed by the sunshine’s untraviolet light. The original cardboard box was thrown in the burn pit. Does composting destroy coronavirus? We don’t know. If you know of a better recommendation for sanitizing produce, please leave a comment.
So there you have it. Stay home, stay safe, and most of all, love each other.
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