Conservation and Preparation of Raw Food

"Proper Conservation and Preparation of Raw Food"

by Frederic Patenaude

Raw foodists sometimes have a very idyllic vision of a perfect world in which everyone eats raw fruits and vegetables and is happy. Nature, according to raw-foodists, is also perfect. So many raw-foodists don’t care so much about washing their produce. Some say that as long as it’s organic, they don’t need to wash it. Many raw-foodists walk around in the street with dirty hands eating unwashed non-organic grapes, without realizing that the laws of hygiene also apply to them. We don’t live in a perfect world, and the food we eat most often doesn’t come from our own gardens. So in order to avoid bacterial contamination from microorganisms and pesticide exposure, we should pay attention to hygiene in the kitchen.

This is especially important for people who are starting to eat raw. Since we are used to live in a very sanitized world, where most of the food we eat is thoroughly cooked, our systems are often shocked when we transition to a raw diet — where not only is the food uncooked, but also unwashed and often carrying parasites, bacteria and other microorganisms.

After a year of eating raw, the body is strengthened and can deal better with these small parasites and microorganisms that may be present on the surface of raw foods. However, it may still be dangerous to eat raw foods haphardazously without paying much attention to hygiene. Parasite contamination is not unheard of in vegetarians and raw-foodists.

So to maintain the spirit of my previous articles, I now offer a few simple, practical guidelines that you can start implementing immediately.

Here are some guidelines:

1) Wash your produce, even if it’s organic. Because there is often some soil left on our fruits and vegetables, we have to wash our produce thoroughly, even if it’s organic. We can never be sure of farming practices, even of organic farmers. This sold can hold bacteria, parasites, and other microorganisms, in addition to the mold that may have developed during transportation. To wash the produce, rinse it under running water, and scrub hard surfaces with a brush.

2) If it’s not organic, wash it with soap. If you buy non organic produce, such as seedless grapes from Chili, or berries, washing it with water won’t be enough. You’ll need to use soap. You can now find a special, food-grade soap sold for this purpose in most supermarkets. Follow the instructions on the bottle. You can also peel commercial apples, pears, etc.

3) Wash non-organic fruits, even if you’re not going to eat their peels. Fruits such as mangoes, avocados and melons of all kind, should be washed before being cut, even if you are not going to eat their peels. Microorganisms and parasites may be present on the skin and could be transferred to the fruit flesh when you cut them with a knife. Also, washing them will help removing the pesticides residues that could still find their way you’re your body, especially if you eat these fruits with your hands. To wash these fruits, scrub them gently with a brush under running water.

4) Wash lettuce, even if it’s pre-washed. To easily wash your lettuce and greens, equip yourself with a salad spinner. Wash the lettuce in the basket under running water and the “spin” it in the salad spinner to remove the water and enjoy dry, crispy vegetables in your salad. By the way, washing vegetables with water is better than soaking them.

5) Peel carrots and other hard vegetables. Parasites and microorganisms are most likely to be present on the surface of root vegetables. This is why we should always peel them or scrub them with a brush under running water before eating them or juicing them.

6) Wash your sprouts. Sprouts, such as alfalfa sprouts or sunflower greens, should also be washed, unless they come from your own indoor garden. Contamination has been reported several times in the United States. So treat your sprouts just like lettuce and take the time to wash them.

7) Find a good source for dried fruits, and keep them in the fridge. Dried fruits are often loaded with mold and sometimes parasites. You should only buy them from reliable sources, such as big health food store chains where they don’t stay on the shelves for months waiting to be sold. Once bought, they should be kept in the refrigerator.

8) Avoid olives unless they come from clean, reliable sources. Bottled and sun-dried olives have one of the highest counts of molds of any food. For this reason, they should be avoided or only bought from reliable sources.

9) Be careful with bottled water too. Add a few drops of citrus seed extract (sold in all health food stores) to your big container of bottled water to counter microbial development that occur after a few days once the bottle has been opened.

10) Periodically clean your brush using citrus seed extract. The brush you use to scrub your fruits and vegetables could eventually become a lair for microorganisms if you don’t wash it regularly. To disinfect it, simply use a natural citrus extract (sold in all health food stores) diluted into water.

Conservation of Foods

I discovered something last winter: the fridge is a really good invention. I thought I could live without it as a raw-foodist, which worked for a while during the Canadian winter, but as soon as the temperature warmed up, it became impossible to keep a lot of vegetables without it. Plus, many food items need to be refrigerated. Here is a list:

Foods that need to be refrigerated

- Nut butters of all kinds (almond butter, tahini, etc.).
- Dried fruits.
- Nuts and seeds, especially those with a high fat content, such as macadamia nuts and pine nuts. Other nuts and seeds also benefit from refrigeration, which helps prevent the fat from becoming rancid.
- Root vegetables, as well as most other vegetables.
- Oils (flax, hemp, walnut, etc.). Since olive oil needs to be at room temperature to be liquid, a quantity may be kept outside of the fridge for regular use.
- Fermented vegetables, such as raw sauerkraut.
- Paprika powder.

Conservation of Selected Foods

Food Cupboard Refrigerator Freezer
Fresh ginger  — 2-3 weeks 6 months
Honey 1 year — 
Miso 1 year
Maple Syrup 6-8 months
Lacto-Fermentions (Saurkraut, etc) 1 month 8-12 months
Whole spices 1 year
Ground spices 6 months
Dried herbs 6-12 months
Paprika 12 months
Flax seed oil 30 days
Monounsaturated oils (olive, sesame, walnut, etc.) 6 months
Polyunsaturated Oils (Sunflower, etc.) 3 months
Shelled Nuts 2-3 months 6 months
In-shell Nuts 1-3 months 6 months 1 year
Soaked Almonds* 4-6 days
Nut Butters 2 months 6 months

* Soaked almonds should be kept in the fridge, and the water should be changed everyday. The other soaked nuts and seeds are very perishable and should be consumed immediately.

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