Tuesday, February 5, 2013

lettuce fresher than ever

Lettuce is kind of a big deal in my kitchen. I have formed many memories around specific salads. There was the time when I moved to Dublin in my early twenties and realized that “salad” in Ireland was a slice of tomato next to some wilted lettuce as an adjunct to the chips that came with every meal. Purchasing a big salad bowl and some fixings was our first mission after finding a place to live, and my best friend and I rejoiced while chomping down on our first salad in weeks. When I learned that real French dressing was not bright orange gloop in a bottle I was 14 years old and living with a host family in France.  My host mother showed me how to make a vinaigrette with a tiny whisk. So continental!

The wilt factor is what turns some people off of salad eating. As much as I love salads, I know quite a few people who refuse to eat it, but will eat other raw veggies. That’s why it’s important to revive your lettuce and keep it fresher longer.

An informal poll (i.e. me, my mom, my dad) revealed the following tricks to keep your greens looking lovely in the fridge.

Salad spinner method

My salad eating increased hardcore once I learned I could prepare and keep lettuce so quickly and easily in a salad spinner. When my Lufa lettuce comes home to me, I tear the leaves off and leave them whole inside the spinner. Then I rinse and spin, dump the water out and stick the whole contraption in the fridge. Done!

If you don’t want to buy a salad spinner, you can use an old pillowcase and throw your carefully rinsed leaves into it. Use the centrifugal force of your arm and swing that bag of lettuce like you’re about to lasso a calf at the rodeo. This may work better if you stand in the bath, or go outside in the summer!

Plastic bag/cloth method

Give your leaves a little bath in 1-2 inches of cold water in a clean sink, or rinse them in a colander. Pat them dry with a tea towel and then place in an open bag. You can use a big zipper locked bag, or reuse a plastic grocery bag. The trick is to place the tea towel or a paper towel in with the lettuce in the plastic bag to absorb moisture. Moisture and condensation are your enemies when it comes to preserving the longevity of your lettuce.

Water jug method

Since Lufa greens usually come with their root balls attached, and were picked the day you received them (can we say fresh-tastic?) they are still alive and positively pulsing with vitamins and minerals. Keep your greens alive by placing the root balls in water, just as you would with a bouquet of flowers. Fill an old container with about 3 inches of water at the bottom, and stick your greens in the jar. This method works well if you don’t plan on eating your veg that day, and need a way to prolong their freshness until you wash and prepare your greens using one of the above methods.

Happy salad eating!