Prepping fruit, veg and other produce in pregnancy needs a little extra care and attention to maintain good food hygiene. When prepping food at home:
- Wash all fruit and veg thoroughly, even if it says it’s ‘pre-washed’ or ready prepared. The surface of fruit and veg can harbor various kinds of bacteria.
- Ensure any produce that is grown in or near soil is thoroughly washed or peeled. This is because Toxoplasma gondii, the pathogen that causes Toxoplasmosis, can be present in soil.
You don’t need anything fancy to be able to wash or peel fruit and veg – after all, most of us have been doing it for years! However, there are two kitchen items that I recommend as pregnancy essentials, and that is a good colander, and a robust, decent peeler. Other ‘nice to have’s’ are also listed below.
The Best Colander For Washing Produce
The one rule to remember about washing produce is that it must be washed in clean, running water. It’s a common mistake to fill a sink or tub with water and ‘dip’ or soak the fruit or veggies. This doesn’t work, as the bacteria transfers to the water and will still potentially be on the produce when you get it out.
For this reason, the best washing technique is to put the produce in a large, sturdy colander and wash it under a running tap. This 5-Quart model from Bellemain (link to check Amazon’s price) is large enough for most people and also stands up on its own in the sink as you rinse.
If you already have a colander that you like, then use that – the important thing is that the produce is exposed to a continual flow of water.
Peelers and Brushes for Fruit and Vegetables
You’ll need a sturdy, sharp, reliable peeler for any veg that is heavily coated with soil, or if you want to remove any dark or inedible spots from produce. I used to use the 99 cent type things you get in discount stores but they usually broke after a couple of months of robust use. With peelers, it’s definitely a case of ‘you get what you pay for’.
In this instance, I’d recommend either the OXO Good Grips Range (their best-selling peeler set is on Amazon) or the well-known ‘big peeler’ (pictured below, also on Amazon) that makes easy work of any tough skin.
For vegetables or fruit where you want to keep the skin (after all, it’s where a lot of nutrients are) then you’ll need to make sure they’re cleaned thoroughly with a ‘proper’ vegetable brush.
Bear in mind a good veggie brush won’t work with softer items like tomatoes – you’ll just puree them! They work best on vegetables like carrots or cucumbers where the skin is tough enough to withstand a good scrub.
One of the best kept secrets in the world of veg brushes is the Tawashi, a Japanese bristle brush that is legendary in its ability to scrub vegetables (or anything else, like the sink – but use a separate one!). Some sellers on Amazon have imported them directly from Japan, and you can check them out here.
They’re made from 100% natural fibers; usually coconut husks or other sorts of coir. It looks like a small, brown, palm-sized hedgehog. Everyone I know who’s got one has raved about it – including me.
Veggie and Produce Wash / Cleaner
You only need to use clean running water to wash fruit and vegetables. There’s no need to use any harsh cleaning agents or soaps. In fact, you should avoid any chemical cleaning products for your produce.
However, some people prefer to use a commercial veggie wash to ensure that things other than bacteria, such as pesticides or wax coatings, are also removed from fruit and vegetables before you eat them. This is entirely a personal choice – pregnancy safety means washing vegetables, and running water is enough to do this.
If, however, you want to use a cleaner designed for the purpose, then one of the most popular ones is “Veggie Wash”, which comes in both regular and organic versions – both are for sale on Amazon.
It says it removes pesticides, soil, etc. on the label, however, you should still rinse the produce in running water afterward to be certain that the fruit/vegetable is clean, rather than the ‘spray and wipe’ approach that is popular with these types of washes.
For hygiene products that extend to your kitchen as well as food prep, you may also want to read my recommendations for food hygiene accessories, hand hygiene and keeping your kitchen clean and pregnancy-safe. When you’re totally fed up with all this talk about cleaning, you might enjoy checking out some pregnancy-safe foods and treats instead.