Cleaning vegetables

The cleaning operation consists of eliminating the inedible parts and the edible parts that are no longer comestible because not well conserved

 Cleaning fresh vegetables

Cleaning fresh vegetables consists of the following operations, to execute in the following sequence:

  • cleaning;
  • washing;
  • peeling;
  • drying.

You will need the following utensils to carry out these operations:

  • kitchen knife;
  • paring knife;
  • potato peeler.

 Cleaning

The cleaning operation consists of eliminating the inedible parts and the edible parts that are no longer comestible because not well conserved (such as yellow or withered external leaves, or bruised portions of fruit or tubers).

Washing

After cleaning the vegetable, it must be washed. Depending on the type of vegetable, this may include:

  • soaking, a bath in abundant cool water for 15-20 minutes, to soften and release any particles of earth or other substances that cling to the vegetables and will deposit on the bottom of the container;
  • washing, rinsing the foods under running water to remove resistant dirt, immersion for a few minutes in water with a small addition of substances containing chlorine or sodium bicarbonate for a final disinfection (sodium bicarbonate is not a disinfectant because it does not eliminate bacteria, but it does create a slightly basic solution that limits their proliferation);
  • rinsing, passing the food repeatedly under running water for a complete cleansing.

 Peeling

This operation consists of eliminating the peel or skin and the ends of the foods (such as the filaments at the ends of carrots). It is a very important step, especially when the quantity is notable because this phase creates a loss of weight with respect to the whole foods, so it is therefore important to avoid waste of the raw material.

 Drying

This phase can make use of a salad spinner for leafy vegetables and tea towels for everything else.

 Cleaning an artichoke

  1. Cut the artichoke stem at the right length for the preparation.
  2. Pull off the external bracts (A) that are woody and fibrous until you reach the tender, edible ones inside.
  3. Cut the ends of the bracts off evenly (B) with a knife at about 2/3 of the length.
  4. Peel the stem at the base, removing the woody external part.
  5. Remove the whitish down at the centre of the flower with a paring knife (C) or a narrow spoon.
  6. To prevent the artichoke from darkening, put it immediately to soak in a bath of water and lemon juice.

While cleaning artichokes, they release a substance that darkens the hands. To prevent this inconvenience, it is preferable to wear disposable latex gloves. If that is not possible, one of the simplest and most immediate remedies to whiten your hands is to rub the fingertips continuously and vigorously with a lemon. If the dark stains do not disappear entirely, you can use a little cornmeal like a peeling, and it whitens too.

artichocke

Cleaning potatoes

  1. Remove any sprouts. If the potato shows any signs of mould or rot, throw it away.
  2. Grasp the potato in the palm of the hand and use a potato peeler to remove the skin (A-B-C).
  3. Use the point of a paring knife to remove any eyes or black spots.
  4. Place the peeled potato in a bowl of water at room temperature to prevent it from darkening in contact with the air.
  5. For some preparations, it is sufficient to rinse the potatoes under running water without peeling them. However, if there are resistant deposits of dirt, rub the potatoes vigorously with your hands and a brush.

Remember that the presence of sprouts is a sign that the potatoes are not fresh, although they are perfectly edible just the same. The technique of cleaning potatoes with the potato peeler can also be applied to carrots, for example. In fact, the potato peeler is a versatile instrument that is useful for many other vegetables.

potatoes

Cleaning a leek

  1. Place the leek on the cutting board and use a well-honed knife to cut off the roots below the stem but without removing the entire compact part of the base, so that the leek will not fall apart.
  2. Remove the green part of the leaves, but cutting neatly at the point where the white begins to be tinged by green (A). Do not throw away the green part of the leaves because it is a good addition when making broth, whether of meat, fish or vegetables.
  3. Again with a well-honed knife, trim the piece of leek thus obtained to eliminate any remaining green veins that are too tough.
  4. Cut the leek in half lengthwise (B) into two equal parts, from the base to the top of the leaves.
  5. Rinse the leek under cold running water, holding the top part together so that germs and bacteria cannot penetrate among the leaves. Then, pull back the leaves one by one and wash well, checking to see that all impurities and any soil residues have been removed (C).

 Before cleaning the leek, make sure it is firm and has a firm tuft of dark green leaves. After cleaning, keep it in the refrigerator, wrapped in a humid tea towel or paper with micro-perforations.

leek

Cleaning champignons

  1. Remove the stem of the champignon from the cap by twisting between your hands (A).
  2. Clean the stem by cutting off the root part with a knife to remove any attached bits of soil (B).
  3. Use the knife blade to scrape the stem, to remove any soil or other impurities.
  4. Rinse the mushroom cap carefully to eliminate all traces of dirt (C).
  5. Peel the cap using a well-honed paring knife and scrape off any remaining skin.
  6. Plunge the mushroom for a moment into a bowl of water with lemon juice or vinegar to prevent it from darkening.

Fresh mushrooms can be infested by parasites. In this case, lay them out on a sheet of newspaper with the stem up, in a cool dark place. The parasites will climb up the stem, to escape the odour of the paper. You can then scrape the base of the stem to remove the unwelcome guests.

champignons

Cleaning a cep

  1. Use a paring knife to scrape the stem and remove the soil, then use a brush with soft bristles to remove even the smallest traces of earth.
  2. If the procedure described above is still not sufficient (the irregular surface of the mushroom makes cleaning more difficult), moisten a cotton cloth with water and wipe the stem gently.
  3. Separate the stem from the cap by grasping the stem with one hand and the cap with the other and twisting delicately but sharply. This will allow you to separate the two parts without breaking the mushroom.
  4. Use the point of the paring knife to scrape the underside of the cap to eliminate any dirt and finish again by brushing.
  5. Clean the top of the cap by scraping and brushing and finish by wiping with the damp cloth.

A cep should never be washed under running water because it easily gets soaked, and thus loses its nutritional and organoleptic characteristics, such as its aroma.

Glossary

Bracts: in botany, bracts are modified leaves that accompany flowers or inflorescences. They can have various forms and dimensions. One of the main functions of bracts is to protect against freezing and parasites.

artichocke
knives

 

Kitchen knife (1)
paring knife (2)
potato peeler (3)

How Much Do You Know…?

To prevent contaminations, it is wise to:

«A woman is like an artichoke, you must work hard to get to her heart» (from the film The Pink Panther by Shawn Levy)