Knowing how to properly wash fresh ingredients is an essential skill for every chef, and while those working in professional kitchens certainly know their way around a sink and a pair of gloves, there are still some common misconceptions when it comes to particular foods. Moreover, there are organizational decisions chefs can make to ensure that washing food is easy, efficient and understood by the entire staff. Here are some tips to know:
- Wait to wash fruits and vegetables until the day you’re going to serve them. Doing so in bulk will leave those you put back in the cooler prone to mold. It’s also best to wash every ingredient individually, as different items require different methods. For example, vegetables with a lot of small crevices, such as broccoli and cauliflower, need to be soaked, while raspberries and other delicate fruits should be sprayed.
- Look for fruits, vegetables and meats that have undergone high-pressure processing, also known as HPP. This method of pasteurization prolongs an ingredient’s shelf life by eliminating whatever germs may have lived within it, keeping it fresh for longer.
- Clear space for washing fresh ingredients. Since certain fruits and vegetables require different cleaning methods, operators need to designate enough room to handle all of them without interfering with any active cooking. For example, locations near the cooler are ideal.
- Train employees to maintain the highest standard of sanitation. Teaching your staff how to wash every ingredient the proper way is just the start. Once a system is established, consider hiring an outside resource to audit employee hygiene and cleaning diligence.
Details make a huge difference in the highly competitive foodservice industry. Many restaurants’ reputations depend on reviews and press, both of which can be swayed based on sanitation concerns. Beyond that, properly washing your ingredients means keeping your patrons from getting sick. That’s why it’s important to take every step seriously. Fortunately, these processes are easy to follow and turn into muscle memory over time.
Tanyeri, Dana. Functional by Design: Produce Prep Stations, Foodservice Equipment & Supplies, August 2018.
Managing fresh herbs and produce safely, Restaurant Business, July 2018.
Best Ways to Wash Fruits and Vegetables, University of Maine Cooperative Extension, 2013.