Washing Greens--Do you add anything to water?

brad9May 9, 2009

I've seen various suggestions for maybe adding something to the wash water like vinegar, salt, or enven chlorine bleach. In the April 2009 issue of "Growing for Market" (p. 10) Henderson and Spula mention using hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, or peroxyacetic acid, with a personal preference to not use chlorine. I've seen several references in this forum to using additives, and there may be a string already speaking to this that I haven't found. Could people state their opinions and practices on using additives--pro and con--and especially comment on the amount of additive per gallon of rinse water? Thanks!

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boulderbelt(5/6)

I add salt and vinegar. I have no idea how much I use per gallon. I would say about 1/2 cup of salt and 2 cups of vinegar to 25 gallons.

This solution keeps things crisp and removes slugs. If you have hard water you really do need vinegar to soften the water to get more dirt off of the leaves.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2009 at 6:52PM
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gardener1908

I have a question in this area also. I was told by the ag. dept. that I didn't need any special permit to sell my veggies roadside as long as I didn't "process" them which included washing them. How are you preparing your lettuces? Also to keep the head lettuces,I was thinking of pulling them whole with the roots attached and putting them in a trough with cold water to keep them fresh and then trimming them when sold. Any suggestions?

    Bookmark   May 10, 2009 at 9:26AM
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veggierosalie(CAN 3)

I sell my head lettuce without washing it. We just put it in a lettuce bag (ones that look like a funnel sort of) and instruct customers to wash before using. If you are careful when picking not much soil gets on it anyway.

I wouldn't put them in a water bath, easy to pick up pathogens, but do keep them chilled until sale.

Washing could be a problem if you do not have water treatment facilities or are using non-potable water, but best to check with your local health authority.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2009 at 9:53AM
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boulderbelt(5/6)

I ignore the processing issue with greens as in Ohio using a metal knife to cut spring mix is processing as is the act of putting a head of lettuce into a plastic bag.

I use salt and vinegar in the wash water as both are killers of most pathogens. In 15 years of doing this I have never had a complaint.

Hydro-cooling is the best way by far to get the field heat out of greens and will allow your lettuce to store for at least 15 days (and for me usually 25 days). You may be thinking "But I would never sell lettuce that is THAT old" and i would hope ypu do not but your customers probably will not use the lettuce in under 5 days and a lot of people leave the produce in the fridge for 1 to 2 weeks and expect it to be fresh when they finally get around to using it.

Non hydro cooled greens will not last more than 10 days and usually they start to go after 5 days, even if they are put into a 38F fridge within 30 minutes after harvest.

Dirt is not the issue with washing-I always tell my customer to wash all their greens as a field wash will not get all the dirt off (but hopefully all the slugs and spiders). The issue is getting the heat out of the produce so it will store better, be of better quality and lose less nutrients.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2009 at 7:12AM
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spogarden

I add salt or vinegar to the water when washing lettuce, brocolli or other garden produce. It helps to get rid of any bugs. Unfortunatly, heat is not a problem in my area, which is why I am forced to grow cold weather crops.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2009 at 12:54PM
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gardener1908

boulderbelt, how do you hydro-cool your lettuce?

    Bookmark   May 15, 2009 at 10:51AM
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boulderbelt(5/6)

I hydro-cool by dumping the produce into cold water. Hydro cool means cooling with water rather that cooling with air

    Bookmark   May 16, 2009 at 5:54AM
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gardendawgie(5)

There is a product called ZERO TOLERANCE. You can think of it as a strong form of Hydrogen Peroxide. it is Hydrogen dioxide. H2O2 and HO2. the HO2 is stronger and can water down to H2O2. Anyway some professional lettuce places use it. The big processors that do millions of bags of loose lettuce at the stores. Zero Tolerance means it kills everything. and it is only Hydrogen and Oxygen or basically water so it is completely safe.

They make a product from grapefruit seeds but it is expensive.

These are used to sterilize lettuce. the ZT in the long run is much cheaper than buying HP.

In general salt is NOT a sterilizer. low PH is a sterlizer so vinegar works but salt does not. Vinegar will be over $2 a gallon. ZT will be cheaper in larger quantity. You can buy a gallon for about $100 and make a few hundred gallons of wash.

If you live on the east coast Griffins Greenhouse Supply carries ZT.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2009 at 11:30PM
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anoid1(5a-4b)

What proportions are we talking here? ie: how many ounces of hydrogen peroxide to a gallon of water is sufficient to sterilize produce?

    Bookmark   June 28, 2009 at 4:58PM
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thinman(Z5 MI)

how many ounces of hydrogen peroxide to a gallon of water is sufficient to sterilize produce?

Anoid1, I would respectfully suggest that you are not going to sterilize any produce with any amount of hydrogen peroxide that you could conceivably use. As for 'hydrogen dioxide ... HO2', there is no such a compound.

Why not just contact your state agricultural department or health department for their current recommendations, rather than take a chance on something that you read on an Internet forum?

ThinMan

    Bookmark   June 28, 2009 at 10:18PM
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gardendawgie(5)

CHLORINE BASED SANITATION CHEMISTRY MAY NOT BE THE BEST BET ANYMOREÂÂ

THE PEROXYACETIC ACID/HYDROGEN "DIOXIDE" SANITIZERS MAY BE POSITIONED TO REPLACE CHLORINE ON FRUIT AND IN SEPARTION TANKS.

www.BioSafeSystems.com

    Bookmark   June 30, 2009 at 1:57AM
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tshutch

There is a reason why your DIOXIDE is in quotes in your article title. Its just a way of representing the peroxide as it loses a hyrodgen atom in solution with water. It would be no different than if the people using vinager (C2H4O2) named it something different when it lost its hydrogen in solution and called it C2H3O2.

The "Speciman label" for ZeroTol says...

ACTIVE INGREDIENT:
Hydrogen Dioxide: 27%
OTHER INGREDIENTS: 73%

But on the MSDS where Federal Regulations make you tell whats really in it...

DOT Shipping Name: Hydrogen Peroxide and
peroxyacetic acid mixture, stabilized, not more
than 5% Peroxyacetic acid.

And just because something has hydrogen and oxygen in it doesnt make it as safe as water. H20 is great and fine. H202 concentrated will eat the flesh off your arm. Chemical structure means something too. There is a big difference in saying your DOG is dead and your GOD is dead.

Using vinager looks to be doing the same thing as using this peroxide solution. Both are washing with a weak acid.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2009 at 5:12PM
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gardendawgie(5)

when it drys up it does not leave a residue except water. This is why it is considered organic. When you purchase the product it will come with instructions and warnings of danger. I am not sure of the concentration used but I will guess about an ounce in a gallon of water. But as you use it then it will get weaker so I guess it depends on how you use it.

vinegar will leave a residue when it is dry. Vinegar and ZeroTol are different. ZeroTol is much stronger as an oxidizer. Like you said it will eat your flesh away but vinegar will not do that. An ounce of vinegar in a gallon of water will not sterlize or kill all germs etc

You use vinegar and I will use zerotol and then both of us will be happy. The big commercial industry uses zerotol for a reason.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2009 at 8:42PM
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thinman(Z5 MI)

How fun. It looks like we are having a little chemistry discussion now. I hope I can do this without getting anyone too worked up, but please let me point out a few teensy misstatements I have seen, none of which have much to do with the original topic.

Hydrogen dioxide is simply what some people choose to call hydrogen peroxide, H2O2. I have no idea why. Hydrogen peroxide is the correct chemical name. Hydrogen dioxide is not HO2. HO2 is called hydrogen superoxide by chemists and is only stable well below -40 C. You won't find a bottle of it sitting on a shelf somewhere.

In water, each H2O2 molecule will lose an oxygen atom (not a hydrogen) and leave H2O. The free oxygen created is a pretty good germ killer, and is what you see bubbling up when you put hydrogen peroxide on a cut. (Yes, if it is a weak acid, there must be a few H+ ions produced, but not many. It is a much weaker acid than vinegar.)

"when it drys up it does not leave a residue except water. This is why it is considered organic"

I don't know if it is considered organic or not, but I doubt that leaving no residue is a factor. Concentrated hydrochloric acid will evaporate without leaving a residue too, but is it considered it organic?

If you feel that I am mistaken about any of this, please try to give a reference to support your claim. An advertisement on a commercial website trying to promote a product probably isn't the best kind of reference. An MSDS is a good one.

Regards,
ThinMan

    Bookmark   July 2, 2009 at 10:14AM
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