Are you tired of your lettuce turning soggy before you can eat it all? Find out how to store leafy greens so you can avoid waste and keep your greens fresh longer!
“‘Eat your vegetables.’ Mothers everywhere have been repeating this mantra for generations. Mom may have been wrong about a lot of things, but she was right about this one.”
– Conquering Your Kitchen, p. 127
Vegetables are central to a healthy diet. Leafy greens are among the most beneficial vegetables, full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. They can help protect against heart disease, diabetes, and other illnesses, and their high water content helps with hydration.
But leafy greens aren’t the easiest vegetables to keep fresh in your fridge.
Lettuce and other greens can wilt quickly if they’re not handled correctly when you bring them home from the market or farm. If you wash and store them properly, lettuce can stay fresh for up to a week, and herbs can last for up to two weeks.
Follow these instructions to give your greens the best chance of making it into your meal plan rather than your compost bin.
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How to Store Lettuce and Leafy Greens
To wash lettuce and other leafy greens:
- – place the leaves in the strainer section of a salad spinner. Put the strainer in the outer bowl of the salad spinner and place it in the sink.
- – Run water over the greens until the water fills the salad spinner above the level of the greens.
- – Move the greens around in the water with your hands, then lift the strainer out of the bowl.
- – After this first rinse, the bowl will be filled with dirty water and the strainer will have the wet greens in it. Dump the dirty water, and repeat the process.
You’ll need to do this a few times. You’ll know you’re done when the water in the bowl is no longer dirty. At this point, you can dry the greens in the salad spinner.
- – Line a large storage container or zipper bag with a paper towel. I like to keep a few large storage containers on hand just for this purpose, with a strict “Don’t put anything else in here!” rule for my family.
- – After washing your greens, transfer the dried greens from the salad spinner to the storage container. Then place another paper towel on top of the greens.
- Cover the container and refrigerate.
Even with clean, well-stored greens, you won’t be able to enjoy them unless you move them out of the refrigerator and onto your plate.
Go through your refrigerator twice a week and see if you have greens that need to be eaten or stored soon. If you do, make a plan so they don’t go to waste.
If some of the greens start to go bad, they will soon contaminate more of the greens in the container, so keep an eye on them.
You can always throw them in a soup or salad. Dishes like this Lentil Curry are a great dish to add extra greens to at any time.
Many types of greens, including kale, spinach, and arugula, can be frozen for another day.
- – Wash them thoroughly as detailed above.
- – Then place them in a large pot of boiling water for about 2 minutes. This blanching process seals in their color, flavor, and nutrients.
- – After blanching, transfer the greens to a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.
- – Leave them in the ice water for 2 minutes, then drain the greens.
- – Transfer them to small zipper bags and remove as much air as possible before sealing. I like to store frozen greens in quarter cup portions to use in green smoothies.
They can also be added to soups or defrosted for a quick side dish.
By properly washing and storing greens when you bring them home from the farm or market, you’ll keep them fresh until you’re ready to use them.
Two More Great Storage Options
Produce Storage Container
Following is another option that eliminates the paper towel. This product was recommended to Adrienne by a big-time gardener.
It works so well!
Though they’re not fresh any longer, of course, drying greens is one more great way to store many greens.
These Dehydrator Kale Chips are one of our favorite recipes and can be applied to many other greens with varying results. We tried Chard Chips once – not quite the same but still better than throwing out your greens!}
What have YOU done to store greens or avoid throwing other food away?
Annemarie Rossi is the author of Conquering Your Kitchen and the creator of Real Food Real Deals. Her website provides recipes and tips to help families eat real food on a budget. She lives in the Boston area with her husband and two children.