Storing Fresh Greens: What You Need to Know

Leafy greens are the earliest vegetables of the year. You can plant many green leafy vegetables in the last two weeks before the last frost, and you can start cutting baby greens within a few weeks. Days to maturity for leafy greens like lettuce and kale is usually about 40-65 days. Leafy greens from root vegetables such as radishes, turnips, and beets will be ready to harvest even sooner.

Whether you enjoy Romaine lettuce in a Caesar salad, Southern-style collard greens, or a beet greens smoothie, you can enjoy the health benefits of leafy greens. There are a ton of vitamins in green leafy vegetables, and they count as a dark green vegetable. So they’re an important part of our diet.

 

 

Ideally, we should eat one serving of dark green vegetables each day. Greens like arugula, kale, spinach, Swiss chard and Romaine lettuce are good examples of leafy green vegetables. These nutritional powerhouses are low in calories, and they supply a huge number of micronutrients. A one-cup serving of raw greens or a half-cup serving of cooked greens will supply you with vitamins A, C and K, as well as dietary fiber, calcium and iron.

Storing Leafy Greens for Two Weeks

The problem is, many leafy greens tend to spoil quickly. And while they can cook down to nothing when you prepare them, they take up a lot of space in your fridge. If you only shop for groceries once a week or every two weeks, it’s tough to get enough greens to include a serving each day. Learning to store your leafy greens properly can increase the shelf life – and it can reduce the amount of space they take up as well!

1) Store Greens Unwashed and Uncut

There are a lot of people out there who recommend things like washing (and even cutting) green leafy vegetables, and storing them in plastic bags in the fridge. One greengrocer actually claims if you wash lettuce and store it in a tightly sealed plastic bag, it will last up to three weeks. But all of this goes against anything I was ever taught about storing fresh produce.

As much as possible, you should store fresh produce in your fridge unmolested. Don’t wash your leafy greens before storage, don’t cut them until you need them and, in general, don’t wrap them in damp towels. And certainly, try to avoid storing it in regular plastic bags.

If you want your leafy greens to last, don’t put them away damp. You also want to avoid taking the individual leaves off their central stem before storing them. Moisture can promote the growth of mold. And anything you do to increase the surface area that gets exposed to air and ethylene gas, is just going to cause your leafy greens to spoil quicker.

 

 

2) Store Leafy Greens in a Rigid Container

If you’re going to eat greens within a few days of putting them in the fridge, this isn’t a huge deal. But if you want them to keep up to two weeks (or even longer) store them in a rigid container. It can be an old margarine tub, a plastic container from the dollar store, or one of those fancy produce storage bins with the drainage and humidity controls built in. The main goal here is just to store the greens loosely, and to prevent other foods from crushing the leaves.

Put something absorbent, like a bit of paper towel, in the bottom of the container if it doesn’t have built-in drainage. And if you are storing several layers of leafy greens, just separate each layer with a little more towelling. Snap on the lid, and place the container in the fridge! I have even stored fresh greens for more than a week in a container whose lid was missing. I just put more paper towel over the top layer of greens.

3) Keep Greens Away from Extreme Cold

Some parts of your fridge may be colder than others, and your greens are especially sensitive to extreme cold. Store leafy green vegetables near the front of the fridge, rather than in the back. The best placement is lying across the width of the fridge, so the whole container is at the same temperature. But if you haven’t got room, place the container so the thicker stem end of the greens is at the back, and the leafy part is near the front of the fridge. This also works for vegetables like celery!

 

Need to know how to wash your greens, once it’s time to use them?

It’s not as easy as holding them under a running water tap!

If you enjoyed this article, and maybe learned a thing or two, please share the love! you can use the image below for your shares to Pinterest. There are also buttons at the bottom for sharing this content on your other social networks.

How to store lettuce, kale and other leafy greens: Food storage tips that will stretch their shelf life and save you money | 24 Carrot Diet
When stored properly, lettuce, kale and other greens will last two weeks or more
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Original content © 2015-2017 Kyla Matton Osborne, aka #RubyWriter

This article was published on my food blog, 24 Carrot Diet. If you are reading this content anywhere else, it has probably been stolen. Please report it to me so I can address any copyright infringements. Thank you!

Note: This article was originally published by me at Seraphic Insights, and has since been removed from the site

16 thoughts on “Storing Fresh Greens: What You Need to Know”

  1. Thank you for the interesting article. In any case, leafy greens are very healthy and important for your body. Not only they are full of nutrition but also they can make you look much younger.
  2. Hi Kyla, Sometimes I'm in the mood for salad; sometimes I'm not. Then, I go to eat it, and the lettuce is limp. It's true. Many of mine go to waste. Janice
    1. I used to have so much trouble with lettuce wilting, even in the crisper drawer! Since I've started storing my greens with paper towels in rigid tubs, they keep almost forever....
    2. I've had the same problem, Janice! Storing the greens with something to absorb the moisture has really helped. Not just with my lettuce and other salad greens, but also with things like kale and Swiss chard. Often, the local farms rinse the greens and put them in plastic bags still damp. If we don't dry them and put a little paper towel or something in with them, these greens will spoil way too fast.
  3. Collards don't mind the cold. Some elderly people will not eat them till they have had a good freeze, they say it makes them sweet and not bitter. I just eat them , anytime and way prepared :)
    1. That means a great deal to me, Tracey. Tanks! I really respect what you do with your blog :)
    1. A lot of people have been taught to wash their produce before they store it, Martha. It turns out that it's better to just brush the soil away or wipe vegetables with a dry rag before storing. If you wash right before you need the vegetable, it will keep in the fridge a lot longer!
    1. I'm glad to hear that! One of the reasons I write about topics like this is that I've learned tricks about food prep here and there along the way, and I often wish all those tips had been in the same place!
  4. Wow!! I've always thought you had to wash your leafy vegetables before you store them in the refrigerator. Thanks for the advice!!
    1. I did too! But if you wash them before storing, you actually decrease their shelf life. Even if you dry them well, there's always a little moisture that will stay on them. That makes them spoil much more quickly :(

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