Once you begin to shift your diet from ready-made processed foods to fresh from the farm foods like greens, you may realize that they can take a little extra time to prepare. With just a little bit of time and planning, you can clean and store large batches of greens at one time. A great skill to add to your home cooking tool belt is learning how to properly wash greens and store them in advance.
We’re all pressed for time, and part of why icky processed and packaged foods appeal to us is that we sometimes want to get in and out of the kitchen as quickly as we can. Well, if you already have clean and ready spinach, for example, you may skip the snacks with empty calories and opt for a fresh salad instead. Imagine the choices you could make if healthy foods were just as convenient as the packaged foods we reach for when we’re in a hurry.
Connect with your food & reduce waste
When you buy your own greens, whether it’s from a grocery store or a farmer’s market, you can feel proud of the fact that you are empowered to choose the food that’s right for you and your loved ones. You can connect again with the colors, textures and great variety of greens. You may discover greens you’ve never thought of using like the almighty kale leaf, colorful Swiss chard or dandelion greens. There is a whole world of variety just waiting for you!
On top of creating a connection with your food, by buying foods that are not ready washed or packaged you are saving an immense amount of packaging waste. With news that pre-packaged foods are sometimes washed in chlorine, you will likely find it desirable to skip the pre-washed veggies and opt for cleaning them yourself.
If it’s in your reach, go for organic. Washing your greens won’t release them from pesticides. When pesticides, herbicides and fungicides are used in the ground, plants bring them into their systems, just like they do with all the nutrients in the soil. This means that the harmful chemicals are deeply embedded in our food. Do your best to go organic!
Look at your greens closely. Sometimes it’s tempting to think that our greens are clean and we could save time by just eating them as is. But one thing that we begin to remember when we connect with our food is that they grow in the ground – in dirt. Every time these greens are watered or gathered, soil can be splashed on them. You can especially notice this if the variety of greens you purchased has little nooks and crannies, like kale.
So you bought a few gorgeous bundles of fresh kale, spinach and dandelion greens… now what? The easiest way to ensure that these greens will get used before they spoil is to pre-wash them right when you get home from the market. After you put away all of your other groceries, keep your greens out, grab a reusable plastic bag (or other storage container), some paper towels (or a dry, clean tea towel) and a large bowl. A salad spinner is an incredible tool that gets rid of excess moisture and keeps greens fresher longer. If you don’t have a salad spinner, you can just dry the greens with a clean towel.
How to Wash And Store Greens
First, you will want to fill your large bowl with enough water to cover your greens. Prepare your greens just as you wish to eat them. For example, if you bought some kale and you don’t want to eat the thick stem, tear off the green and throw the stems in your compost or save them in your freezer for a homemade veggie broth (check back for a recipe coming soon).
Swish around your greens in this water a few times. Don’t be shy – think about shaking off all of the dirt and sand that may be lingering on your greens. While you do this, your greens may tear a little bit, but no worries there. If the container you’re using is clear, notice the dirt falling down to the bottom of the bowl.
After a few minutes, get another clean bowl (or the basket from the salad spinner) ready to put the greens in. Gather a handful of greens and let as much water as possible drain out. Transfer them to the clean bowl and do this with the rest of your greens. Repeat this process at least one more time, and if the water looks extra cloudy after the second wash you may opt for a third or even fourth time.
Once you are content with the cleanliness of your greens, it’s time to dry them. If you have a salad spinner you can use that, or dry with a clean towel. The trick is to get as much moisture off as possible, to prevent the greens from going bad quicker.
Now it’s time to store them! Line a clean bag (or other container) with either paper towels or a clean tea towel. Make sure that the greens have a towel on both sides, so any excess moisture can be absorbed. Store in the fridge and enjoy your clean greens!
Do you have a favorite way to clean or store your greens? Was this method helpful for you? Let us know in the comments below!