4/22/05 | Keeping Green Vegetables Fresh
[ Currently Eating: chocolate ]
One important thing to remember about Cheap Eating is that food storage is nearly as important as low cost. Staples like beans, rice, canned vegetables, and dry pasta are gold for eaters on a budget because you can buy them in bulk without worrying about them going bad quickly.
Vegetables and especially green, non-root vegetables (not carrots or potatoes, for instance) are a whole different story. While the price of green onions and parsley isn’t going to break the bank, it can be annoying if anything to have to keep buying a fresh batch when the ones you have go bad in a few days.
So it’s important to properly store your green vegetables in order to get the most usage out of them. One important thing to note is that at the grocery store, the veggie section often has these auto-sprayers timed to shoot out cold mist in order to keep everything fresh. While this probably works well in the market, when you take a bunch of green onions and shove it in a grocery bag and tie the top, this isn’t good news for storage. All that extra water is not going to be good for greens when stored. So I like to make sure to carry paper towels in my pocket in order to wipe off excess moisture right there at the source. Some markets actually have rolls of paper for you to do this (Albertson’s where I shop does).
Now, when you get home from the market don’t just throw the tied bag of onions into the fridge and forget about it. It takes a little more time, but i like to wash the greens right away in cold water to remove excess dirt and then dry with towels. Then I leave the greens out on a plate to dry slightly. I think you could also use a salad spinner but that might be too much work. This works well for green onions, cilantro, parsley, lettuce and spinach. In addition, remove any twist ties as they can cut into the greens and promote spoilage.
Next I bundle the greens loosely between two paper towels and store in a large gallon ziploc bag. I believe there are actually ziploc bags that have preforations that are made especially to allow greens to “breathe”. The paper towels are important to keep the leafy part of the greens from contacting with the plastic bag. This is because when in the fridge, condensation will form and if the leaves are allowed to soak in that, the greens will spoil faster. The paper towels also help in the absorption. If the bunch of greens is really big, you may want to split it into two portions, wrap each separately, and then put them both in one ziploc bag.
I find that I can increase the life of green onions and other veggies by about 3-4 days using this technique. One thing that’s cool with veggies is that in most cases you can re-use the ziploc bags… if you find that they start to smell (in the case of onions), you can always wash the bags with soap and water.