How to wash salad greens

Have you ever taken a big bite of salad only to be left with a gritty mouthful of greens? We often get asked what is the best way to wash salad greens, so you don’t end up getting soily salad. Most of our salad greens are grown outside in our garden, the chances of having a bit of dirt in the lettuce is quite possible. In the Spring, we often grow our salads in our greenhouse, which helps eliminate the amount of dirt on the greens. We do rinse our salad greens, but no matter how hard we try there is always seems to be residual dirt on the greens.

Fill a sink or bowl

It is best not to wash salad greens until you are ready to use them. The easiest way to clean your greens is to agitate and soak them in large amounts of water. Fill a large bowl or your kitchen sink with cold water. Separate the greens and add them to the cold water. Vigorously swirl the water and agitate the greens. You want the moving water to loosen the dirt from the nooks and crannies of the leaves. Inspect a few of the leaves, checking for patches of caked-on dirt. If you are washing whole heads of greens, dunk the head and gently open them up, bending the leaves away from the core to allow water to get in between the leaves and remove the dirt stuck down at the core. Also, look for dirt in the hidden “elbow,” area where leaves attach to the stem.

Gravity is your friend. Walk away and let the dirt settle to the bottom of the bowl or sink. Wait about 10 minutes, then lift the greens out of the water. Give the salad greens a gentle shake to get the excess water off. Now it is off to the salad spinner if you have one. The number one rule of salad spinning is not to overload the salad spinner. You will never get the water out if you do. If your greens are too large to fit in the spinner, cut or break them into pieces. Once spun, spread the greens out on a towel or paper towel-lined sheet tray and pat down with additional towels or paper towels. If you are going to keep the lettuce heads intact, say for grilling purposes. Do not try to shove them into a salad spinner. Instead, wrap the head in a dry kitchen towel and shake over the sink or if you’re feeling adventurous, go outside and, with a firm grip on the towel-wrapped greens, swing your arm in a circle and spin the greens. You’re doing it right if your greens sporadically shoot out water like a sprinkler in the yard. Once spun, wrap the greens in a paper towel and place them upside down on a rimmed sheet to allow any trapped water to collect at the bottom of the tray.

Storage

If you are not using your greens immediately, store them in the refrigerator in a large sealed plastic bag with a folded, dry paper towel in the bag. The paper towel will absorb excess moisture and keep the greens from getting waterlogged. That same paper towel will also re-hydrate your greens if you store them for more than one day.

Coming soon : salad dressing recipes 

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