How to Clean Root Vegetables

Root vegetables are a staple in most households, but are you doing everything you need to be doing to remove any dirt or debris that could impact the safety and taste? Carrots, potatoes, and beets grow in the ground, which means they can easily collect dirt and bacteria. Washing them is important, but knowing the correct techniques matters most.

What's the best natural cleaner for vegetables?

One of the best natural cleaners for vegetables is b. This vinegar solution removes pesticide residue, bacteria, and some types of fungi from the surface of vegetables. This natural cleaning method is safe, affordable, and environmentally friendly, making it a popular choice for many people concerned about food safety and cleanliness. We do use it in the tutorial below, but it's a great cleaning solution for leafy greens, green beans, bean sprouts, fresh fruits, and more.

Looking for store-bought varieties? Here are three commercial produce washes we like:

Properly clean soil and pesticides off your vegetables.<p>Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash</p>
Properly clean soil and pesticides off your vegetables.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

Cleaning Root Vegetables

  1. Remove excess dirt. Dirt on vegetables is completely normal (and honestly, expected). Especially if you're buying fresh produce at a farmer's market. Start by rinsing the root vegetables under cold running water to remove any excess dirt or debris.

  2. Scrub with a clean brush. Run the vegetable under cool water and use a vegetable brush, produce brush, or even just a soft-bristled scrub brush to rub the surface of the vegetable. Pay extra attention to crevices and hard-to-reach areas.

  3. Inspect for blemishes and rot. While cleaning, inspect the root vegetables for any blemishes and bruises in the firmer skin, or signs of spoilage. Trim off any damaged or discolored areas with a knife.

  4. Spray the surface and scrub again. Combine equal parts white vinegar (or apple cider vinegar) and tap water into a spray bottle. Let it coat the produce for a minute, and then use the vegetable cleaning brush to gently scrub at the outer skin again.

  5. Rinse produce in water one more time. Give the vegetables a final rinse under cold water to remove any remaining dirt or debris.

  6. Pat dry. After cleaning, pat them dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels before storing or using them in recipes.

Can I peel vegetables before cleaning?

While some people prefer to peel root vegetables before cleaning, it's better to clean them first to remove dirt and debris from the surface.

Potatoes grown in a container still need to be properly cleaned and stored.<p>Emily Fazio</p>
Potatoes grown in a container still need to be properly cleaned and stored.

Emily Fazio

Are there any special considerations for organic root vegetables?

Organic root vegetables may not have pesticide residue, but these types of produce still come into contact with natural mulches and soil additives to support growth. And, well, they grow underground, so of course they also have soil on their outer layer. Treat them the same as you would treat any non-organic type of vegetable.

Can I soak vegetables in water to clean them?

Soaking root vegetables in fresh water can help loosen dirt and make cleaning easier, but avoid soaking them for too long, as prolonged exposure to water can cause them to become waterlogged and lose flavor. Instead, rinse them under cool running water and scrub as needed.