Washing food before cooking is widely thought of as the best way to get rid of bacteria. However, the practice is not always advised, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
Reader’s Digest states a list of six food items to never wash before cooking. They are as follows:
1. Poultry and fish
“By washing raw chicken in the sink, you are likely to spread the bacteria all over your kitchen, including clean surfaces like countertops, through splashing and dripping,” said Eric Sieden, director of nutrition and food services for Glen Cove, Plainview and Syosset hospitals in New York.
This rule also applies for fish. Directly cooking both either poultry or fish is the only truly effective way to get rid of any bacteria.
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2. Red meat
In terms of spreading bacteria, washing red meat brings the same danger as washing poultry or fish, as it creates added moisture to the meat.
“The added moisture during washing will create steam that will also affect taste,” Sieden said.
The best way to avoid this is to keep water away or by patting the meat beforehand with a paper towel to get rid of excess moisture.
3. Pre-washed produce and salads
When purchasing a packaged salad marked pre-washed or triple-washed, there is no need to wash it again.
In addition to saving water, keeping packaged greens away from the sink will reduce the risk of cross-contamination from other foods.
“Most chefs will tell you that you never soak or wash mushrooms to clean them, but wipe them with a damp paper towel since they absorb water like a sponge,” Sieden said.
As a result of the extreme absorbent nature of mushrooms, having them in contact with water for too long can result in a change of taste, causing them to become soggy and rubbery.
Although washing eggs before cooking them is commonly practiced, it may affect the natural coating on eggs that helps prevent bacteria from permeating the shell.
Washing eggs could remove the coating and make the skin more vulnerable to the spread of bacteria.
Another food item that should not be washed before and after cooking is pasta. Washing pasta will remove the starch that helps hold the sauce, as well as the overall flavor of the pasta.