Now that I know that amazing storage hack for keeping avocados from turning brown, I recently stocked up on at least eight (my family is obsessed!), especially since avocados were on sale this week at my local grocery store. But as I was picking up each avocado to gently squeeze and test for perfect firmness, I watched as four other people were doing the same thing. Then the germaphobe in me started to think about the hundreds of other people who’ve been manhandling these exact same avocados and how many germs must be on the skin — eww!
If you stop to think about all the dirty hands on the avocados you bring home, you’ll be so grossed out and will definitely want to follow the advice of registered dietitian Brenna O’Malley, creator of the health blog The Wellful. She said, “The trick with produce like avocados is that even though we don’t eat the peel, when we cut it, that bacteria or dirt can transfer into the edible part of the food. The FDA does recommend washing all produce before preparing or eating, whether we eat the skin or not!”
So this tip isn’t just for avocados. Registered dietitian Leslie Langevin, MS, author of The Anti-Inflammatory Kitchen Cookbook, says that you should wash melons and oranges not only to get rid of germs and dirt but also to wash away sprayed-on pesticides. As for bananas, registered dietitian nutritionist and NASM-certified trainer Whitney English (@whitneyerd on Instagram), MS, says those are OK to eat without washing, since you’re not cutting through the peel.
Leslie says you could use a special produce cleanser that contains citric acid. But Whitney says she just thoroughly rinses produce under running water, scrubbing with a produce brush or her hands, and drying with a clean towel. Do this every time before slicing into your avocado (and other produce with a peel) to avoid the bacteria that could be lurking on the surface.