Author Topic: Way to 'clean' fresh herbs?  (Read 362 times)

Offline Milk Maid

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Way to 'clean' fresh herbs?
« on: July 07, 2013, 10:49:05 AM »
Does anyone have advice for how to clean fresh herbs (such as rosemary) that I would be putting in a jar with a marinated cheese? I have heard of doing acid or peroxide treatments. Can any explain how to do it?

Thank you,

Milk Maid


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Offline linuxboy

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Re: Way to 'clean' fresh herbs?
« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2013, 11:04:21 AM »
Goal is to get rid of any bacteria and yeasts right away, so that when they go in, CFU count is minimized. There's a secondary goal in food production typically of shelf life, which means keeping any microbes at bay by using preservatives (sorbate, natamycin, benzoate are common ones, depends on usage)

There are a few common methods to accomplish surface microbial reduction
- Acid wash. Using one or more organic acids (lactic, formic, acetic, phosphoric etc) knocks down the microbial load. If you look at new washes for salad, there have been some recent patents with novel formulations for acid rinses. With multiple acid blend, there's a synergistic effect even at low to moderate concentrations.
- Peroxide.  This is perhaps most common. Peroxide wash will kill
- Chlorine dioxide.  Recent favorite in some applications due to its effectiveness and comparatively low concentrations needed, along with short contact time. A bit pricier, but very effective.
- Commercial blends.  There are commercial products such as peroxyacetic and proprietary blends for this exact application.
- Other.  Hypochlorite, metabisulphite, etc. Generally not best for delicate herbs.

Overall, what I like is
- Lightly dehydrate raw material. High aw, high moisture are not so great for oil. If brine marinate for cheese, not as big of a deal.
- Wash
- Depending on solution, neutralize if necessary. Eg, sometimes if wash too acidic, may need to rinse in a second step. Not common though, it really depends on the entire production flow and ingredients and materials used.
- Spin dry, then air/sun dry
- Use

have to choose the ingredients carefully based on maximum flavor potential. EG, can't use basil stems, and if using basil, easier to use extracted oil + dehydrated basil than fresh basil leaves. Rosemary is pretty easy, it's very cooperative.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2013, 11:17:58 AM by linuxboy »
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Offline Milk Maid

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Re: Way to 'clean' fresh herbs?
« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2013, 01:47:44 PM »
Thank you for this answer. On the home-scale level, does peroxide mean I can use hydrogen peroxide straight or in dilution? Do I need to rinse before adding to cheese marinade?

Offline linuxboy

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Re: Way to 'clean' fresh herbs?
« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2013, 04:14:24 PM »
Unfortunately, hydrogen peroxide by itself isn't that great at reducing microbial load enough. Even if you do something crazy like 15,000 ppm, the reduction would not quite get to 5 log. It's a decent safeguard if you're consuming at home, though. Using it straight would be fine, and yes, would recommend a quick rinse after. Or no rinse, but thorough drying. Again, depends on oil vs marinade.

There is a botulism consideration in some cases. EG, with garlic, have to get below 4.6.. commonly done with citric or phosphoric acids. Or outright vinegar soak to acidify beforehand.

I wish there was a single answer I could give you. For safe harbor in home setting, I think hydrogen peroxide + cold storage would be enough. Definitely not enough commercially. FDA very clear about this.
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Offline John@PC

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Re: Way to 'clean' fresh herbs?
« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2013, 08:18:24 PM »
Quote
Unfortunately, hydrogen peroxide by itself isn't that great at reducing microbial load enough. Even if you do something crazy like 15,000 ppm, the reduction would not quite get to 5 log.
Is there any advantage to using sodium percabonate?  Pharmacy-grade hydrogen peroxide is 3% typ. but can you get to the levels your talking about by using the oxidant in a more concentrated solution?

Also, is "toasting" a good option (i.e. "sanitize" the herbs" by cooking)?


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Offline linuxboy

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Re: Way to 'clean' fresh herbs?
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2013, 08:46:50 AM »
Quote
advantage to using sodium percabonate?
For lethality? Yes, the higher pH makes it more effective. Because it breaks down to the carbonate. But I wouldn't use peroxide by itself. I would use one of the organic acids... peroxyacetic, octanoic, peroxyoctanoic, etc. They are not that expensive in small amounts.

Quote
Also, is "toasting" a good option (i.e. "sanitize" the herbs" by cooking)?
For the herbs, that's a decent option if you are using dry herbs. In that case, though, why not enfleur or infuse directly with hot oil method, and then include anything inside that you want for presentation. Regular infused oil is easier because you can always pasteurize in bottle. Not quite the same with cheese, as it will generally lose integrity at high temps.
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Re: Way to 'clean' fresh herbs?
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2013, 09:05:08 AM »
There is a botulism consideration in some cases. EG, with garlic, have to get below 4.6.. commonly done with citric or phosphoric acids. Or outright vinegar soak to acidify beforehand.
Now I'm concerned about my roasted garlic Gouda. I baked it before I used it. Does that solve my possible problem?

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Offline linuxboy

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Re: Way to 'clean' fresh herbs?
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2013, 09:26:06 AM »
Within cheese, you should be fine. I don't think anyone has ever done a probablistic analysis of the risk, but botulism in cheese basically doesn't exist. It's an issue in canned food.
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