Last week I gave some tips on how not to cry when cutting onions. Today I wanted to touch on some health facts involving cut onions. Is it ok to use leftover onions? Conditions that should be avoided by persons with a compromised immune system is something I have been becoming familiar with. Reading that onions, once cut can be harmful, I researched this information. Here is an article by Dr. Ruth MacDonald, Chair and Professor of the Department of Food Science & Human Nutrition, Iowa State University, to get the facts!
When you cut a vegetable the cell walls are disrupted, water and fluids are released and these may contain nutrients that enhance bacterial growth. So if there are bacteria present the cut surface will provide an enriched environment for more growth. Placing the onion or vegetable in the refrigerator will typically slow down the bacterial growth, but does not inhibit it completely (and some bacteria actually grow very well at refrigeration temperatures).
When you pick up the vegetable, bacteria from your hands will be transferred to the surface of the vegetable. Or when you place it on the counter or cut it with a knife, bacteria can be transferred from the counter or the knife onto the vegetable.
So what should one do to prevent illness from vegetables?
- At the store:
Select intact vegetables that do not have soft spots or bruises and handle them gently.
- At home:
Wash the vegetables with cool water, use a gentle brush if you want – and dry.
- Store them in a cool and dry location, or in the refrigerator.
- When you handle vegetables, wash your hands first, use clean utensils and cutting boards, and avoid cross contamination especially with raw meats or eggs.
- Immediately wrap leftovers in plastic or place in sealed containers to prevent moisture loss and store in the refrigerator – use within 2 days. If the leftovers look mushy, have a cloudy fluid around them, feel slimy or have an odor – throw them out!
Where do you store vegetables? Let me know! Leave a comment!
This article is part of the Tips That Help in the Kitchen Series, Tip Friday.