How to Choose the Right Brushes for your Produce

by Danny Zahoul

Processing produce to make them eligible for selling is no small task. Facilities have to be quick, efficient, and, most of all, reliable. This means that you get the best equipment to ensure that the produce reaches the markets looking good.

Produce brushes are one of the required equipment for the processing of vegetables and fruits. These brushes help to clean, remove dirt, and polish the fruits and vegetables. Some vegetables, such as carrots and potatoes, have soil clinging on them that require a brush to remove. Additionally, fruits such as apples need a thin coat of wax to preserve them better.

Produce brushes help with these and more functions. There are many types of brushes in the market today. Manufacturers make them from various materials so you can choose according to your needs.

Furthermore, they come in various sizes, with different bristles and shapes. So it is easy to get lost due to their specific features. Luckily, we offer a helpful guide to choosing the ones that are right for your produce.

What to Consider

1. Produce

The first thing you need to consider is the type of produce you are processing. Different fruits and vegetables have different needs. For example, vegetables such as potatoes and carrots grow underground. Therefore, they come out with dirt that regular washing cannot completely get rid of.

Washing brushes help to remove dirt from these types of vegetables. They reach the nooks and crannies that water cannot reach, ensuring that the produce is clean and healthy. Often these vegetables require cleaning brushes with tough bristles.

Additionally, some produce requires peeling as part of the processing. This calls for abrasive brushes. Fruits often need waxing as part of the processing, so they need waxing brushes. Finally, some produce requires polishing to make them more attractive to buyers, so you will need polishing brushes.

The bristles you use on potatoes are different from the ones you use on apples. Figuring out which type of produce you process will guide you into selecting the various brushes you require.

2. Material

Next, consider the materials that make the brush. Manufacturers make brushes from different materials. The various materials are ideal for different functions and produce. The most common brush materials include:

  • Nylon Brushes– this brush has nylon polymer filaments. This means that the brush is firm, flexible, with good elasticity. These brushes can withstand extreme heat and chemicals. These brushes are adaptable, so they are ideal for scrubbing, cleaning, drying, and polishing. They have low water absorption and bend easily to fit various types of produce. Filaments can either be soft or tough.
  • Polyethylene Brushes– these types of brushes come from a soft and durable material. The bristles are flexible and soft. Therefore, they are ideal for washing and polishing. You can wash and polish delicate fruits because polyethylene offers a smooth, scratch-free wiping action.
  • Polybutylene Terephthalate Brushes– these are similar to what is mentioned above. However, it is stronger and more resistant. In addition, it is extremely heat resistant, so it can withstand washing with hot water. Additionally, the bristles are tough, making them ideal for scrubbing and peeling. Finally, they are very durable.

There are more, but these are best for most facilities.

3. Size

Next, produce brushes come in various sizes. The variation’s in sizes means that they can achieve different needs. More than that, the variations in sizes mean that they can fit multiple machines.

Some can fit shafts of various diameters. More than that, various brush sizes mean that you can use them for different produce. Larger brushes are ideal for big fruits and vegetables such as cabbage and pineapples. Smaller brushes are better for apples and berries as they can carefully wash and polish the fruits and vegetables without damaging them.

4. Bristles

Natural bristles are made from some sort of animal hair, such as hog or badger. Synthetic bristles are often made from nylon, polyester, or a combination of both.

Horse hair is a medium to high cost material. Tail hair is stiffer than mane hair. It’s soft to slightly stiff texture gives a scratch-free dry cleaning and has very good durability. Horse hair is highly absorbent due to the many tapered scales along its length which allow it to carry liquids very well. Not resistant to acids or alkalis, it is used for buffing, cleaning, dusting, and finishing in a variety of bristle brush styles.

There are discussion within food safety due to the “possibility” of spreading listeria or other bacteria because it is hollow. Although there are no known infections due to horse hair bristle wax brushes.

Different bristles have different functions. For example, what can wash, does not polish nor wax. The main types of bristles include:

  • Soft Bristles– as the name suggests, these are bristles with a soft, light, and almost fluffy texture. They are therefore not abrasive, making them perfect for delicate fruits and produce. Soft bristle brushes are ideal for polishing and apply wax. The light, flexible bristles are best for creating a shine on fruit surfaces without damaging the exterior. Additionally, they hold liquid well as they are often tightly knit, therefore, ideal for applying wax on the surface of produce. Soft bristle brushes are also suitable for washing delicate produce such as berries. They are also good for drying.
  • Medium-Texture Bristles– these offer minimal abrasion and are often better for washing or scrubbing the exterior surfaces of fruits and vegetables. The texture of these brushes make them ideal for cleaning and removing dirt on vegetable and fruits with more rigid surfaces such as potatoes, carrots, cabbages, onion, and mangoes. They do not bruise the surface but instead remove the dirt that may be stuck on the surface.
  • Hard Bristles– finally, the stiff bristle brushes are best for peeling and deep scrubbing of produce. Many facilities require these brushes to remove the skin or exterior of various produce for washing then packaging. These brushes carefully remove the top layer only, leaving produce such as potatoes and carrots clean. You can also use these stiff bristle brushes to remove undesirable features such as potato eyes.

There are variations, but these are the most common and ideal for many facilities.

5. Purpose

Lastly, the purpose of the brush should guide you into choosing the best one. Different brushes will serve multiple purposes but the most common include:

  • Cleaning– they remove dirt, mud, and other impurities from the surface of the produce. They vary in bristle texture to serve different levels of the coarseness of the exterior of the produce.
  • Waxing– they apply a thin coat of wax onto the surface of the produce for preservation. They hold liquids well and are flexible for even application.
  • Polishing– they are soft and fluffy with short flexible bristles. The bristles are tightly knit for a better shine on the produce’s surface.
  • Peeling– they are tough with stiff bristles to remove the layer of skin. They are not as flexible to remove blemishes as well.

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