When you are harvesting the vegetables and herbs that you grew in your garden people want to know if they need to clean it before eating or cooking them.
The short answer is yes. But if you are talking about eating something that you just picked and want to eat it immediately you are fine to wipe it off and eat it as is from your garden. I say this knowing that I do not use any pesticides in my garden and only organic fertilizers, the only thing on them will be dirt or what other bugs and birds left behind.
There is nothing better than to pick a sungold tomato off the vine in the morning to have the juicy sweet tomato explode in your mouth.
How to Clean Vegetables and Herbs from Your Garden
Now for the long answer for best practices, I would always recommend you wash the food you are going to eat fresh or cook.
Most vegetables will not need to be cleaned immediately when brought in but there are some I would recommend you rinse off with cool water and dry off before storing. Others I would just wipe off any soil that is attached to the vegetable.
Below is a list of some of the most common vegetables, and herbs, and how I would clean them when bringing in from harvesting and how you should clean them before eating or cooking with them.
How to Clean Vegetables and Herbs from Your Garden after harvesting and before eating them
Tomatoes- Do not wash them after harvesting unless you are going to eat or cook with them. Store in a cool dry location until you are going to use them. When you are ready to use them, you should rinse them off with cool water.
Cucumbers- You should wipe off any dirt or moisture before storing them in the refrigerator. When you are ready to use cucumbers you can rinse off with cool water.
Lettuce, Spinach, and other leafy greens- This is one of the types of vegetables that I would rinse off with cool water and use a salad spinner to remove as much moisture as possible before storing in the refrigerator. I rinse leafy greens several times to make sure I have no bugs or dirt on the leaves.
I also spin them dry and lay them out on a towel to finish the drying process a little more before bagging them up to store in the refrigerator. When it is time to use them I do not need to wash them again but can use them immediately in salads and on sandwiches.
Peppers- You do not need to rinse these when storing them in the refrigerator. Once you are ready to use them they can be rinsed in cool water.
Potatoes- You can lightly brush off any soil that is attached to the potatoes, once you need to use them you should scrub off using water and a vegetable brush to clean the potatoes. If you are storing the potatoes for use much later you should cure them in a cool dark location for several weeks if not they can be stored for use without curing.
Peas & Beans- They should not be washed before storing in the refrigerator, once you are ready to use them they should be rinsed in cool water to remove any flowers or soil.
Carrots- Since there is usually a lot of dirt still attached to carrots I recommend you rinse off with cool water and pat dry before storing. The tops can either be left on the carrots if used within a few days or removed and placed in the refrigerator for longer storage. When you are going to use them you can wash them more thoroughly and peel them.
Onions- It is best to remove as much of the dirt as possible before curing them for storage, if you are going to use them fresh from the garden you can knock off excess dirt and rinse them thoroughly before using.
Zucchini and other Summer Squash- Squash should be rinsed off with cool water or wiped off to remove any dirt before storing in the refrigerator.
Cilantro- Most herbs are more delicate and should be harvested as needed, for short storage I would recommend cilantro be rinsed off with cool water before storing in an air-tight container.
Basil- Basil leaves can be kept on the stem and kept in a jar of water on the counter until being used, or if being used immediately you can rinse off to remove any dirt or bugs from the leaves.
Chives- Chives can be rinsed and stored in an air-tight container or rinsed and used immediately.
Rosemary- This herb is best used fresh and is best rinsed before use.
Now that you know How to Clean Vegetables and Herbs from Your Garden, it is time to get out in the garden to harvest those wonderful crops you have grown.