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!
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Original content © 2015-2017 Kyla Matton Osborne, aka #RubyWriter
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Note: This article was originally published by me at Seraphic Insights, and has since been removed from the site