Learn how to keep lettuce, spinach and chard fresher, longer with these quick tips how to wash and store salad greens, along with some delicious recipes, too!
Best Practices to Wash and Store Salad Greens
Summer is a great time to include salad greens of all sorts in your diet. Here are some great tips and ideas to wash and store salad greens, along with some delicious recipes to whet your appetite. Let’s begin.
You might be wondering what salad greens entail. Basically, salad greens include many of the well-known leafy vegetables we all know and love:
- Lettuce – Red Leaf, Green Leaf, Iceberg, Romaine, Butter, Oak Leaf
- Endive – Belgian, Curly
Lettuce and other greens are a great choice for any meal of the day. They can be eaten raw, like in salads, or cooked gently to wilt. Plus, they offer a variety of flavors from mild to slightly bitter, to mustardy, to earthy, which makes them the perfect ingredient for many recipes. (See Recipes below).
Best of all, salad greens are nutritionally sound and are low in calories. They also provide insoluble fiber, which helps in digestion.
DID YOU KNOW? THE LONG HISTORY OF LETTUCE – You might not know this but lettuce is actually part of the daisy family. It is an annual plant that also flowers if you let it. It has a long history that spans back to the Egyptians. Back then, they used the seeds for oil and the leaves for food. Word spread of this delicious vegetable and soon even the Greeks and Romans were hooked on this amazing plant.
Most salad greens are easy to grow whether in a container or in the ground. And it doesn’t take long before you have yourself fresh greens to eat. WATCH: Handy video on how to grow lettuce in containers:
How to Choose the Freshest Greens
Regardless whether you grow or buy your salad greens from the store you’ll want to make sure that you only buy the freshest greens.
The reason is because once the greens are cut, the timer begins for them to lose their taste and nutritional value.
So you should look for salad green heads that are tight and packaged leaves that are crisp to the touch and bright in color (think deep greens and reds).
And, avoid produce that is yellowed, wilted, or bruised.
5 Steps to Wash and Store Greens
But greens do come with a bad wrap (no pun intended). You might have seen quite a number of recalls on lettuce over the years and it’s no wonder. Lettuce by default is grown close to the ground, and as such, can pick up all sorts of contamination.
The biggest culprits are Salmonella and E.coli. These can cause food poisoning or worse.
That’s why it’s essential to make sure that any and all salad greens are washed properly before consuming.
You can do this in five easy steps:
- First wash your hands before handling the greens.
- Remove outside leafy greens if using lettuce.
- Use cold running water and rinse with a colander or a salad spinner. If the leaves are excessively gritty, allow the greens to soak in the water for a minute or two and shake the leaves in the water to loosen the grit. Then proceed with rinsing and draining. It is not advisable to use dish soap or antibacterial gels to wash fruit or vegetables. Doing so can leave harmful residue on the surface.
- Use a clean towel or paper towel to completely dry if storing.
- Place salad greens in a storage bag (sealed) and wrapped in paper towels and place in crisper until use.
Cooking Tip: Make sure salad greens are completely dry before dressing.
Keep in mind, too, that even ready-to-eat greens should be washed prior to consuming.
Recommended Product: OXO Steel Salad Spinner
Salad spinners are invaluable for helping to dry lettuce quickly and effortlessly. In my home, I use the OXO Steel Salad Spinner.
It’s easy to use with one hand, although I feel better using one hand to steady the bowl and the other to pump the spinner.
What I love best about this unit is that I can drain the extra juice out of the bowl, rinse and then use it as a salad bowl.
Best of all, this salad spinner holds 4.95 quarts, which is enough for a large head of lettuce.
Favorite Recipes Using Salad Greens
You can’t go wrong with fresh garden greens to make the most delicious recipes.
Here are my favorite recipes using summer’s best greens:
3. Mexican Salad – Get Curried (Video)
4. Emery’s Classic Caesar Salad Recipe (Video)
5. Jacques Garlicky Romaine Salad (Video)
6. Spinach Strawberry Salad – Aashpazi (Video)
And, for more amazing ideas to use your fresh stored salad greens, be sure to check out my round up for 21 Delicious Salads to Make at Home.
Be sure to check out Wisconsin Homemaker’s Cooking Sections for additional tips and tricks and recipes.