So you just walked in the door after picking up your veggies from distribution. Because it’s spring or fall, your box is FULL of gorgeous, fresh salad spinach, arugula, kale, salad greens, head lettuce, beet greens (and the list goes on!).
What’s the best way to store these greens so that they last?
Step 1: Make sure your greens are clean.
Your greens from Perkins’ Good Earth Farm have all been courtesy double-washed here at our farm, which means they’re ready to eat right out of the bag–yay! If you do want to wash them again, make sure you spin them dry in a salad spinner. You never want to store sopping wet greens or they’ll turn slimy.
The one item that may need a little more washing is the head lettuce. Soil gathers inside the bottom leaves, and it tends to stay there despite our best efforts (Dan’s working on a solution for this!). For now, trim the base. The leaves will fall off, and you can rinse the dirt from the bottom of the leaves and pat them dry with a paper towel or clean tea towel.
Step 2: Use paper towels in the storage bag or container.
All your greens except head lettuce come in a sealed plastic storage bag. I like to slip a paper towel between the side of the bag and the greens. The paper towel works to reduce moisture in the bag, which helps the greens stay crisp longer. You may need to replace the paper towel throughout the week.
For the head lettuce, I store mine in a 9×13 plastic container lined with paper towels, but a sealable plastic bag will work just fine for the head lettuce too. Whatever you do, don’t just throw your head lettuce into your crisper drawer with no protection!
One Last Thought: Our Greens Really Do Last Longer
We’ve heard from our farm members over and over again that our greens last much longer than what they purchase in the grocery store. In our own home, we’ve had bagged spinach stay fresh for over a month in the fridge (without a paper towel in the bag–that’s right, I don’t always take my own advice!).
Last fall a farm member texted me a photo of our salad greens that she’d received here the week before Thanksgiving. She’d left them loosely wrapped in a grocery bag in her fridge. On December 22 she came home from vacation and found a little bit of head lettuce left in her fridge, “not wilted, not moldy, still crisp!”
What’s the point of these stories?
I do think it’s best to use the storage advice I’ve given here, especially for tender greens like salad greens and spring mix. But I know that sometimes life happens–the second you get in the door your kid starts crying or you get an important phone call or you realize you didn’t actually turn on the crockpot–and greens storage is the last thing on your mind.
So be gracious to yourself! But if you can, store your greens that will make them last as long as possible.