Nagymama’s Natural Veggie Wash

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stock-photo-tomato-webI marvel at my Nagymama all the time. Although she is 98-years old, she has never ONCE in her life had surgery. As a child, I honestly don’t remember her ever being sick. For goodness sake, she doesn’t even have one stretch mark on her entire body!

When she was in her 80’s, she was mugged by some teenage hoodlum, and she actually managed to beat him down with her handbag (read the story here)! Either she has really good genes, she is a freak of nature, or something she did over the last 98-years really stuck. As a part of this American Goulash series, I am going to try to explore what is it that Nagymama has done to live to such a ripe, fruitful age. I know it isn’t all the Snacky Cakes® she eats all the time!

A few years ago, a friend of mine wondered what ever happened to “Fit”, the supposed natural fruit and vegetable wash that removes dirt, pesticides, salmonella, e-coli, and all that other yucky stuff from produce. I started to wonder just what the heck was in this “Fit” stuff, and although I researched for quite some time, I have NO idea – apparently it’s a secret but the ingredients are “100% Natural.” I am always wary of anything that says it is 100% natural, because the FDA has no standard for the word “Natural”. So, under those lack of standards, technically little baggies of cocaine and opium could be labeled “Natural”, since you, know, those products are from nature.

ANYHOW, the whole conversation made me think about Nagymama’s method of removing nasty stuff from produce. First of all, my grandma grew most of the stuff we ate in her vegetable garden, so I grew up eating a TON of organic produce that didn’t need special veggie washes. But, for the “fancy stuff” that didn’t grow well in our soil, grandma used to wash all of our veggies with good old soap and water until my mom yelled at her for serving us mashed potatoes with soap bubbles in them.

From that point on, it appeared that Nagymama washed fruit with 7-Up. Seriously! She would lay the fruits and veggies out in a bowl and pour 7-Up all over them. I assumed that 7-Up has some sort of magical cleaning properties, and I also knew that I really liked the taste of it, so one day, when I was six or seven, I poured myself a glass of 7-Up when Nagymama wasn’t looking. I quickly took a big gulp and immediately spit it all over the kitchen. For some reason, it tasted just like “salty burning”. I ran to the bathroom, screaming and crying, and I basically shoved the entire sink nozzle into my mouth to get the taste out. Turns out, Nagymama invented her own form of veggie wash out of some really nasty stuff and just happened to keep it in a 7-Up bottle because she liked to recycle cans, jars, and bottles. When she realized what I had done, she gave me a big glass of warm milk to get the taste out of my mouth and waived her finger at me.

“See, Stephie, you should not drink soda without permission!”

From that point on, I assumed that soda turned to poison salt water when parents were not watching, but years later realized that she really must have invented something!

Unfortunately, I waited too long as an adult to ask her for the recipe, so I assumed it was long forgotten. But, after harassing my mother and aunt over the last few weeks to look through old recipe books, it seems that I have found two potential recipes for this oh-so-amazing veggie wash that might, just might, keep you living until almost 100.

Veggie Wash Option 1:
Dissolve half cup of white vinegar and four tablespoons salt to two cups of water
Apply the wash to a clean sponge and use it to lightly scrub your vegetables or place it in a spray bottle and apply it directly to the produce. Allow it set for a few minutes and rinse.

Veggie Wash Option 2:

Add four tablespoons of baking soda and four tablespoons lemon juice to two cups of water. Mix thoroughly. Apply this vegetable wash with a spray on bottle (or our with a empty bottle of 7-Up). Rinse thoroughly and dry.

So there you have it. Washing your veggies will allow you to live a long time. And actually eating them probably doesn’t hurt, too.

Photo by Alfonso Diaz