Since You Asked: Store your salad greens unwashed

I appreciated the recent information on the possibility for contamination in bagged greens. The problem I have is these greens are so convenient — just grab a handful and put it on a salad plate. Any ideas for how to make salads just as easily from whole heads of greens?

— Jamie A., Ashland

The reality is that whole pieces of produce will never be as convenient as precut, prewashed and packaged ones. But a bit of planning ahead and these tips can streamline the process for salads.

  • Store — Any added moisture causes leafy greens to spoil more quickly, so store them, unwashed, in plastic bags in the refrigerator until you're ready to use them.
  • Clean — When prepping greens for a few days of salads, wash them thoroughly. Because greens harbor sand, bugs and other debris, just running water over the leaves isn't enough. Instead, separate individual leaves from the head and dunk in a large bowl or sink filled with cold water. Dirt sinks to the bottom while greens float on top. Remove the leaves by hand and place them in another bowl or on a clean kitchen towel. Drain water and repeat the process until water is free of debris. Finally, spin the greens in a salad spinner and store them between layers of paper towel in a large, plastic, food-storage container with lid. Then it's just a matter of tearing leaves into smaller pieces for salad.
  • Salad CPR — Soak wilted greens in ice water for a few minutes, which rehydrates the plant cells and perks the leaves right up, crisp as the day they were harvested. (Dry greens well before using, or dressings won't coat the leaves.) This technique also works with herbs and vegetables such as celery and carrots that have gone limp.

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