Do This To Keep Your Salad Greens Fresh Longer (Plus A Delicious Recipe) - Save Our Bones

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.

Synopsis

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.

Synopsis

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.

Synopsis

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.

Synopsis

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

pH-Balanced
6 Servings

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

  • 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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Comments on this article are closed.

  1. Terri

    I have used paper towels spread out in plastic bags of pre-washed spinach and can extend the spinach for a week or more.
    With iceburg lettuce heads, I store in a beeswax-infused cloth. I can make a head last two weeks this way. When I want some leaves, I tear them off, wash and spin. The beeswax cloth is washable in cold water with some mild biodegradable dish soap. After a year or so, they can be replaced, and the old ones will biodegrade.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Thanks for sharing your proven tactics, Terri!

  2. bea

    hi vivian do you have a good dressing that would be good on thin salad thank you bea

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Bea, I can think of a variety of salad dressings for the Greens and Fruits Salad. For example, a balsamic vinaigrette, a honey-mustard dressing with olive oil and lemon juice, or the tahini dressing recipe below which I copied and pasted from this article:
      https://saveourbones.com/enjoy-a-post-holiday-cleanse-with-3-delicious-bone-healthy-recipes/:

      Makes 4 servings:

      ¼ cup sesame tahini
      2 tablespoons olive oil
      Juice of two lemons
      ¼ teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)
      ⅛ teaspoon black pepper

      In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients and pour over the salad; mix well.

      Enjoy!

  3. Isabel Feldman

    I used to buy the hard-shell plastic containers with the “previously-washed” words on them. I’m not sure I trust the washing they received, or the rinsing. But one thing I definitely Do Not Trust is the claim that those hard plastic shells are recycleable. PBS channel Thirteen in NYC broadcast a Frontline documentary about the supposed recycle-ability of containers made of that plastic–they blew the claim to pieces. There is apparently No Market for reclaiming that type of plastic. Some plastic trade association has been pushing these claims to make it appear as if those containers will magically disappear and be used for a type of other products, but the investigators found that there is No Market and no incentive for anybody to buy and re-use that type of plastic, and the manufacturers of those containers are well aware of that fact. They thought it would break down buyer-resistance to purchasing veggies in those type of containers, but the people in the recycing industry say there is “no economic incentive” for anyone to buy up those used containers….So from that point on, I have avoided purchasing veggies marketed in those clear, hard-plastic containers. Whatever plastic code is assigned to those containers does not matter because nobody has found a way to buy up the used containers and make something profitable from it. I’d rather buy up my veggies, esp greens, the old-fashioned way with brown paper bags or newspaper wrapping, and dispose of those recycleable papers. It seems that plastic floats around in the Pacific Ocean and these hard plastic containers–hell, most plastic containers are destined for the heap. We really need other materials for containers other than plastic–containers that don’t have the potential to interact with the contents of the pastic jars that have largely replaced glass.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and information with us, Isabel!

  4. shulamit sendowski

    Thank you for the greens storing advise.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      It’s my pleasure, Shulamit!

  5. Sue

    Every dinner in my home includes a big salad made with organic mixed greens from a hard shell container that says “thoroughly washed”. My husband loves his spinach from a bag that says “washed and ready to eat”. I am assuming there is no need to re-wash either of these greens. Am I correct? The recipe sounds great but I may add blueberries and/or strawberries when in season. Thanks for your tips. I’ve been using the paper towel trick for awhile now and you reinforced its benefit.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Sue, if the greens are already washed, you don’t need to wash them again. Adding different fruits or veggies to the salad recipe is a good idea. There are so many possibilities! Enjoy!

  6. Rosemary Pratt

    Instead of paper towel in with your greens use a sheet of bamboo towel,which you can wash and reuse.I let mine airdry on the bench rotated with another sheet/s for a couple of times before washing.Other vegetables all last much longer wrapped in bamboo towels to absorb moisture.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Good tip, Rosemary! Thanks for sharing it 🙂

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