How to wash leafy green vegetables like lettuce (Image: moerschy/Pixabay/CC0)

How to Wash & Prepare Leafy Greens

Leafy vegetables like lettuce, spinach, kale and Swiss chard are some of the first plants ready to harvest from the garden, and will often be the first items to be displayed in your local farmers market. You can get the most out of them by learning to store and prepare them right. Today I want to look at how best to wash green, leafy vegetables.

Leafy green vegetables, like all other fresh produce should be stored whole and unwashed until you are ready to use them in a salad or other dish. To get the leaves really clean you want to wash greens in a bowl or basin full of cool water, and not just hold them under your kitchen tap. Put a handful of leaves in the water at a time, and be sure to get a little bit of friction going to loosen up any soil.

Washing Your Greens

Now let the greens sit a moment so the particles you washed off will fall to the bottom of the basin. Scoop the leaves out – do not dump them into a colander or otherwise pour them out with the washing water! This will just get all the grit back on them.

Once you’ve lifted the leaves out of the basin, check the colour of the wash water. If it’s pretty dirty, you need to wash the greens again. Keep washing until the water is fairly clear, and there is no grit left in the basin after removing the greens. (Hint: Be more eco-friendly by saving this water for your houseplants or garden.)

Drying and Prepping Your Greens

Lay the greens out in a single layer on a clean towel. Loosely roll the towel up, being careful not to crush them. If the leaves are still pretty wet when you unroll the towel, you can repeat with a second dry towel.

I tend not to trim my greens until after they’re washed, because we save the stems and cores for making broth. Just toss everything into a freezer bag when you do any vegetable prep, and leave it in the freezer until you’re ready to make broth. I save all my vegetable skins, peels and ends this way. It reduces kitchen waste, and it’s also a frugal way to cook up a batch of homemade stock.

To see a demonstration of the technique for washing leafy greens, check out this video:

 

Featured Image Credit: Crisphead lettuce by moerschy, courtesy of Pixabay; CC0 1.0

Note: This is an original text that first appeared in August 2014 on the now defunct site Bubblews

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10 thoughts on “How to Wash & Prepare Leafy Greens”

    1. Lettuce can gather a lot of soil, as can spinach. They do usually need to be washed more than once.

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  1. This one’s a good thing to practice. I’ll start following the points above when washing veggies. Thanks for this!

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    1. It really makes a difference with things like spinach, that tend to have a lot of grit on them. But it’s a good idea with all leafy greens 🙂

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  2. I put a bit of salt in the water that I wash my greens. It is something that my mom used through her life, and she sort of passed it on to us.

    I like how you use the unused vegetables to make stock! Love that tip!

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    1. I wonder if it was to reduce bitterness? Or maybe just to kill off bacteria and such, that may have come from the soil? It sure beats using these chemical produce washes…

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