Storing Your Green Leafy Vegetables

Have you ever bought fresh, crisp spinach with the best of intentions, only to look in the fridge a few days later and find it all gone to waste? Proper storage can extend that spinach’s lifespan by days or even a whole week. The following steps can help preserve any green, leafy vegetable or herb — preventing waste and saving you money.


The first step is inspecting your greens. Check them in the store for obvious signs of rot or wilt, and check more thoroughly when you get home. For heads of greens, remove each leaf from its stem, right down to the small core leaves. For bags and bundles of greens, open the parcel and spread the leaves out. Check that all leaves are edible. If one slimy or moldy leaf is present, it can speed up the decomposition of all the greens around it.


Next, wash your greens in cold water. This will get rid of mold spores, in addition to pesticides, dirt and other unsavories. Make sure to wash the greens even if they look clean. Dry them thoroughly by rolling them up in a large dishtowel. They should not feel wet to the touch.


Now, protect your greens. Roll them in a dry, clean dishtowel or a length of paper towel, then put them in a plastic bag or resealable container. Leafy greens stay crisp longer inside plastic, but they can rot very quickly if they touch plastic or if their leaves touch — because their evaporating moisture can’t escape. Wrapping the greens in absorbent material will keep their own moisture from harming them.


Finally, close the container tightly and squeeze out the majority of the air. Store it in a dark corner of the refrigerator. Check your greens every day or two and remove any wilting or rotting leaves. If the towel or paper towel feels damp, replace it with a dry one. Family-sized quantities of greens tend to develop condensation — if you see droplets of water inside the container, be sure to wipe the surface dry.


Delicate greens (mesclun lettuce mix, baby spinach, cilantro, etc) tend to wilt quicker, so they need more frequent checkups than firmer greens (kale, collard greens, romaine hearts, etc). But regardless of variety, a little upkeep will give you more time to make use of your healthy groceries.


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