Greens are a staple of any healthy diet, and the Save Institute's pH-balanced approach to healthy eating is no exception. Nearly every grocery trip involves picking up a container of fresh greens – whether that's kale, spinach, arugula, romaine– the list goes on and on. But once those greens are home and in the refrigerator, they can quickly turn to slimy mush.
Today you'll get some highly effective strategies for keeping your greens crisp, fresh, and delicious for longer. If you're throwing out less, then you're eating more– and that means you're getting all the bone-building nutrients these powerful plants have to offer.
1. Choose Greens That Last Longer
Different vegetables have different compositions (and nutritional profiles) and that has an impact on how long they stay fresh. Heartier greens like kale or baby spinach will last longer, while more fragile leafy vegetables like bibb lettuce are more likely to get bruised and go bad quicker.
That doesn't mean you should only buy the hearty greens, though. It simply suggests that a little planning will go a long way. When you purchase a variety of leafy greens, plan your meals so that you eat the more delicate produce first. The following tips will also help you extend the life of even the most sensitive greens.
One such tip is to look closely at the expiration date on the greens you buy. It might require digging around to the back of the shelf, but always buy the package with the most distant best-by date.
Heartier greens like kale and spinach will last longer, so buy more of them and plan to eat more delicate greens first. Always check the expiration date and buy the package with the most distant date.
2. Wash Before You Store
Like all produce, you should wash your greens to reduce any residual toxins or contaminants. Kale and spinach in particular often rank fairly high on the EWG's Dirty Dozen list of produce with a high rate of residual chemicals.
For that reason, you should always try to buy organic, for all your produce. Remember that even organic produce gets exposed to toxins in transit or through contact with conventionally grown items and needs to be washed!
Washing right away will reduce your prep time when you're preparing your meals, and it sets you up for ideal greens-storage. Instead of stuffing the container right in the fridge, this ritual will allow you to slow down and take a more intentional approach to extend the life of your greens.
Be sure to dry the leaves completely before you put them away. Even greens directly from the grocery store may be carrying a lot of moisture, and wetness will increase the rate of rot and decay. You can use a clean towel, paper towels, or even a salad spinner to get your greens dry before storage.
Wash your greens before you put them away. This reduces the amount of residual pesticides they may contain. (Remember to buy organic greens!) Dry the leaves fully before storing them.
3. Container-Type Matters
One of the biggest culprits of slimy mushy greens is damage. Many types of greens bruise easily, which accelerates the process of decay. Protecting these delicate veggies is essential to extending their life. If you buy greens in a plastic bag, transfer them to a hard shell container to avoid damage
You can also buy greens that come in plastic hard shells (which you can reuse or recycle) and that will protect them in your grocery cart and on the way home too.
Buy greens that come in hard-shell plastic containers to prevent bruising during shopping, in transit, and in storage. If you buy greens in a plastic bag, transfer them to a hard container when you get home (after washing and drying them!)
4. Reduce Moisture
Wetness leads to soggy, slimy, rotten greens. It's imperative that you get your greens as dry as possible and take steps to keep them that way. As mentioned above, always dry your greens thoroughly after washing and before you put them away.
Try putting a paper towel in whatever container your greens are in to absorb moisture. This works wonders for increasing the life of your veggies, since the paper towel will get soggy instead of your greens. Replace the paper towel once a day for best results.
Always keep your greens in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. It helps keep your greens crisp by reducing moisture. You can even dedicate a drawer for greens-only, line it with paper towels that you change regularly, and put the greens right in without a container! The drawer itself can act as a large plastic hardshell.
Moisture causes greens to go bad. Always dry your greens completely, and then try putting a paper towel in whatever container they're in. Putting your greens in the crisper drawer will further reduce moisture and extend their lifespan.
A Recipe For Your Crisp, Fresh Greens!
Now that you have the best strategies for ensuring that you get to eat all the delicious, fresh greens you buy, you need a new recipe to use them in!
This salad is a meal in itself. For a side-dish recipe, omit the chicken or turkey.
Greens And Fruits Salad
- 3 cups cubed cooked turkey or chicken, seasoned to taste
- 1 large apple, chopped
- Slices of 2 oranges, cubed
- 3/4 cup red grapes, halved
- 4 cups salad greens
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
- ⅓ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup sesame seeds or sunflower seeds (optional)
- Sea salt and black pepper to taste
- Place all ingredients in a large bowl and drizzle with the salad dressing of your choice. Toss lightly to combine.
- Sprinkle the nuts, seeds, and cranberries. Serve immediately.
What This Means To You
When you prevent your greens from going bad, you get more greens! That's good news for your budget, your meals, and your bones. Dark green leafy vegetables are some of the most densely nutritious vegetables you can eat, which makes them key for Savers.
You can find more recipes featuring Foundation Foods like kale, collards, and spinach in Bon Appétit, The Save Institute's cookbook and meal planner. Since your greens won't go bad anymore, you might need new recipes to use them all!
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