Food waste is a huge problem, and it’s infuriating to have to throw out unused produce. The solution? Something as simple as drawing your salad greens an ice-cold bath. It’s true. Submerging leafy vegetables in a big bowl of ice water for 20 minutes to an hour can most definitely bring back them back to life.
According to Jadie Aranda, the biologist behind Eat My Science, wilted (or even browning!) greens haven’t “gone bad.” Your greens are only bad if they’re slimy, which indicates the presence of bacteria or fungus. If they’re green yet wilted, salad greens probably just need a little water to be revived.
“Greens get soft and limp because they lose water. Fruits and vegetables are mostly water, with iceberg lettuce at 96 percent water. In the fridge, lettuce and other greens lose water to the air, the cells that hold the water shrink, and the outward appearance is wilted and limp,” she writes on her blog. “Soaking your greens in water will cause osmosis. Water moves from areas of lots of water to not so much so everyone can share. The water will plump up the plant cells and make the greens rigid and crisp again.”
Do you need to buy organic vegetables? Here’s the answer:
But ow do you prevent greens from wilting in the first place? It really comes down to how you store them. DJ Blatner, RDN, recommends evenly spreading out your greens in a bag with a paper towel to absorb moisture, then lying it down flat in the fridge. When you limit the amount of moisture and air, your greens won’t wilt or spoil as quickly, she writes. You can also use a specialized container like the Oxo GreenSaver Produce Keeper ($20), which has an inner basket that keeps moisture to a minimum and prevents your greens from rotting. (I have one, and it really works.)
Another trick to storing your greens to keep them fresher for longer is actually utilizing the produce bins in your fridge. According to Harvard’s School of Public Health, they’re not just extra storage space. By sliding the tab to “high humidity,” you’ll help preserve any produce that’s sensitive to water loss and goes bad quickly when exposed to ethylene gas, like leafy greens and herbs. The setting ensures the bin is sealed off from the airflow (and the ethylene gases emitted from other produce!) in the rest of the refrigerator, keeping your spinach, kale, and other leafy greens looking as good as the day you bought them.
With a few of these tricks up your sleeve, you’ll be eating crisp greens all week long.
Curious whether kale or spinach is healthier? Here’s which one is better for your body. There are so many other options to choose from, too, and these are some of the best greens to bring home.
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