Food safety experts have warned that anyone who chews leafy greens could be exposed to harmful bacteria — proving that when you wash your lettuce, you should follow an eight-step process to get rid of any germs.
A salad may sound like the perfect healthy meal, but if you choose not to wash the lettuce with these eight steps, you’re setting yourself up for a noxious lunch, according to food safety experts.
According to Katie Sabatini, the food safety and quality assurance manager at Little Leaf Farms, and Jay Weinstein, the chief instructor of vegetable culinary arts at the Institute of Culinary Education, you should always clean your lettuce before taking a bite.
The experts have revealed the eight steps you need to perform to properly wash your leafy greens and why it is so important to never skip the cleaning process.
Food safety expert Katie Sabatini, the food safety and quality assurance manager at Little Leaf Farms, has revealed how to rid your lettuce of any germs
An extra healthy salad! The eight steps to clean your leafy greens
- Step one: Wash your hands
- Step two: Cut or tear the lettuce into pieces
- Step three: Fill two bowls with cold water
- Step Four: Completely submerge the leafy greens in the water
- Step Five: Brush the lettuce vigorously with loose fingers
- Step Six: Lift and drain the lettuce before moving it to the second bowl
- Step seven: Repeat step six
- Step eight: Dry the lettuce with a salad spinner or a clean towel or pillowcase
It is essential that you wash open ground leafy greens such as romaine and iceberg before consuming them as they can be filled with harmful bacteria.
Lettuce can become contaminated with germs from agricultural runoff, contaminated water supplies, and being near livestock or other animals.
Whether an animal is wild or domesticated, any nearby feeding or grazing can lead to the spread of bacteria.
Speak against YahooSaid Katie, “Harmful bacteria can live on lettuce during the harvesting and packaging process, so it’s best to wash lettuce just before eating to wash away any surface dirt.”
Jay notes that it’s critical to wash your veggies before consuming them because “contaminants range from pesticides to sand and mud.”
And while farmer’s market lettuce has more bacteria, factory-grown leafy greens are also high in chemicals.
Agricultural chemicals can be harder to spot, but they are very dangerous.
Jay said, “Invisible, odorless and tasteless by design, I wouldn’t risk swallowing them to save a few minutes in the kitchen.”
For the first step of properly cleaning your leafy greens, the experts recommend starting by washing your hands for a minimum of “twenty seconds” with soap and water.
Katie notes that it’s pointless to wash lettuce without cleaning your hands first, as it just spreads other germs.
When washing the lettuce, always tear or cut the leaves instead of rinsing the entire head.
This is because washing only the head may ignore hidden dirt, especially the dirt found where the leaves meet the core.
Jay Weinstein, the chief instructor of vegetable culinary arts at the Institute of Culinary Education, said you should always clean your lettuce before taking a bite
After cutting your leafy greens, prepare your station to rid the lettuce of the germs.
You need to fill two large barrels with cold tap water, according to Jay.
Katie explained that temperature plays an important role in properly rinsing your lettuce.
“The tender lettuce leaves are more susceptible to adverse quality effects of too hot wash water, such as wilting, scalding, limpness and increased loss of freshness,” said Katie.
Then you take the lettuce and submerge it ‘completely’ in the water.
Jay explained that wet lettuce spoils faster, so make sure it’s dry before putting it back in the fridge (stock image)
While the greens are soaking, “stir vigorously, using loose fingers to avoid bruising the leaves.”
While the next step is a “bit of a process,” according to Jay, it gets easier as you get used to it.
You lift the lettuce out of the water and let it drain before moving it to the second bowl and repeating the process.
After that, feel the bottom of the barrel for dirt. If you feel anything, repeat the process again until nothing is left.
Finally, turn the leaves to dry with a salad spinner or a clean towel or pillowcase.
Jay explained that wet lettuce spoils faster, so make sure it’s dry before putting it back in the fridge.
And while a salad spinner works best, the chef explained that even wrapping the lettuce in a towel or clean pillowcase and “hitting it over your head like winding up a slingshot” is enough.