Normally we buy vegetables in small quantities, and use them up in a day or so. But now, in order to keep control over our exposure to large crowds, shopping is less frequent. Some time back we wanted to guard against COVID-19 by disinfecting all produce. Eating soap is not a great idea, so we were certainly not going to washing food in soap. The Family skimmed her expertise and recalled that bacteria and viruses are killed by a solution of salt in water. So now we dunk all produce for about fifteen minutes in salty water. The water can be reused, and salt does not need to be washed off, so this is also a water conserving way of cleaning produce.

On some days our house is full of vegetables being cleaned and dried, chopped and sorted. Since the salt water bath removes bacteria and viruses, we now find that the veggies stay fresh and usable much longer. Bananas and plantain, tindli and tomatoes, everything stays fresh and colourful for several days. Tindli? Does ivy gourd sound more familiar? I didn’t think so. It is after all a rather local vegetable (featured photo), so best to call it by its local name.

We used to be in a desperate rush to use up mushrooms before they rot. Now mushrooms stay fresh longer too. Perhaps the salt water treatment also kills the fungi which sometimes grow on these mushrooms. I know that some people use baking soda and potassium parmanganate, but that would also require more water for post-treatment washing. We wanted the lowest water-use possible, and I think the salt solution works well for that. The Family consulted her old colleagues about this treatment, and found a good consensus of opinion for it.

There are no desperate attempts to refrigerate fresh produce to keep it from spoiling any longer. Everything can now be kept in trays and bowls in sun and air. Also, now that we can keep the veggies for longer, we can wait for good combinations to develop. For example, plantains are not very common at our neighbourhood vendor’s, but when we get it, we already have the other veggies that we know will go well with it. The result has been an explosion of new recipes at home. Lunch is quite a journey of discovery these days.

By I. J. Khanewala

I travel on work. When that gets too tiring then I relax by travelling for holidays. The holidays are pretty hectic, so I need to unwind by getting back home. But that means work.


  1. Thank you for the tip. We used to keep veggies out for two days. We will try salt water method now. πŸ™‚
    There’s a tasty konkani dish called soi bhajjil ghashi – it’s made of raw bananas in spicy (fried) coconut paste. I will give you the recipe if you want to give it a try.πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I have been thinking about it. πŸ™‚ Been doing a lot of cooking since the lockdown. Some traditional konkani recipes might be a hit.πŸ™‚
        How do you want to send me the recipe? Type it here or via email?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Roast a spoon or two of coriander seeds and urad dal. Add grated fresh coconut and saute it until coconut turns reddish-brown. Add dry red chillies, saute for a minute. You will have to grind this mixture into a paste. Add tamarind pulp while grinding.
        Steam-cook raw bananas; you can add steamed yam and chana to the curry.
        Add the ground paste to the steamed banana and bring it to boil. Add a tempering of curry leaves and mustard seeds. πŸ™‚
        You can publish, burn or cook this comment-recipe.πŸ˜‰

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for the tip; I use a 50-50 solution of white vinegar and water with the same edible/water saving disinfectant principle in mind, but the salty water method sounds interesting; what concentration do you use?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, acid should denature proteins and lipids too. Very little salt is needed. We’ve been using a two percent solution, which is roughly a tablespoon per liter. There’s no harm done if you forget to remove the veggies for an hour or two, or increase the salt concentration as much as five times. It’s a pretty forgiving process.


  3. Salt water is such a wonderful idea. I will pass it on to my parents. They’ve been using apple cider vinegar and also baking soda. I have stopped doing any treatment at my home. My sis and I have just given up. We just leave the vegetables untouched for 24 hours. Sun them thereafter but not always.
    And, Tindli is one vegetable that i prepared for the first time during the lockdown.

    Liked by 1 person

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