I like to eat well, which means a lot of fresh produce, especially vegetables. The problem is how to keep up with all that washing and cutting while avoiding premature wilting and molding. Here are some of the solutions I’ve come up with:
1. Pre-washed greens makes it more likely that that I’ll have greens on hand. Because it’s dry, it lasts a lot longer than any greens I wash myself. If you’re queasy about using it right out the bag, you can always wash it when you’re ready to use it. It’s a little more expensive than unwashed greens, but when you factor in waste from molding and another trip to the store, it’s economical.
Always check for condensation before buying. Condensation means wet, deteriorating greens. The kind that comes in the clamshell is less likely to be wet, especially if it also has a perforated bag inside the clamshell. A lot of plastic, I know, but it works. It’s amazing how much is packed in that little container.
Organic baby spinach is a common ingredient in my green smoothies. I also keep a container of Earthbound Farm’s spring mix or half & half (spring mix and spinach) and/or baby arugula for quick salads. You’ll have to experiment with your own refrigerator, but I find my vegetable drawer keeps the greens best. Anywhere else, and it gets too much condensation.
2. Romaine lettuce hearts. I prefer a full head of Romaine lettuce when I can get it, but good quality Romaine hearts are usually always available. I look for the package with greenest, fullest heads. Romaine is a fairly sturdy lettuce, and when it comes to greens, this is a critical factor. I typically wash what I currently need, plus enough for the next day.
We eat a lot of salad, and I’ve developed this streamlined method of washing my Romaine. It works best if you’re washing a couple of heads at a time.
Put the heads in a tall, narrow container, stem side up. Chop off the stem end. Run water through the lettuce until the container is almost filled.
I wash my vegetables in a vinegar solution (three parts water to one part vinegar). You can read more about this method here. Add vinegar and let soak for a couple of minutes.
Rinse leaves and stand upright in a colander to drain. If your house is cool, and you plan ahead, you can leave them like this to dry. It looks like an artful arrangement, and you save yourself the trouble of using the salad spinner, which I find a chore.
To chop the lettuce, stack a few leaves on the cutting board. Cut the leaves in half lengthwise, and again at the leafiest part, if the leaves are wide. Chop crosswise to get somewhat uniform pieces. Spin dry, if necessary, and throw into your salad bowl.
If you’re saving some for the next day or so, wrap dry, uncut Romaine leaves loosely in a paper towel, slide into a plastic bag, (leave it open), and put in the vegetable drawer.
Note: Parsley and cilantro will keep for up to a week this way, though they may be a tad less pungent.
3. Ziploc bags with the little plastic sliding zipper.
I like to wash and cut vegetables for a few days. It saves me the trouble of pulling out the cutting board, and washing the colander everyday. Besides, when I’m hungry, the last thing I want to do is wash and cut vegetables. Most likely I’ll just grab the quickest thing. Storing my pre-washed, pre-cut veggies in ziploc bags keeps them fresh and crispy, and makes them as convenient as a bag of chips.
Celery, carrots, green beans, grape or cherry tomatoes, cauliflower, and even broccoli, do especially well stored this way — pretty much anything that can be thoroughly dried. I spread the vegetables out to dry on a clean, bleached towel before (or in the case of cauliflower and broccoli, after) cutting them up. Other items like cut peppers will work, too; they just don’t last as long.
Take the banana out of the freezer a couple of minutes before you need it. It will be easy to slice with a sharp knife. Don’t let it defrost too much, or you’ll just have a soggy, banana flavored mess. Eat as is, blend with a little almond milk and vanilla for banana “ice cream,” or add to your smoothie.
Alternately, dip whole or sliced frozen bananas into melted chocolate. (You’ll have more success with the latter if you simply pour the melted chocolate over the banana slices). If you like, sprinkle with chopped nuts or top with peanut butter.
5. Frozen fruit. The greatest deterrent to eating fruits and vegetables are their availability and convenience. While frozen can’t compare to fresh, in a pinch, it’s always available, and what’s more convenient than opening the freezer and pouring it right out the bag? My favorites are berries and mango. You can make your own by freezing on a tray before bagging.
With the exception of grapes, which I just pop in my mouth, I eat frozen fruit in one of two ways: smoothies or in a bowl with some almond milk or yogurt poured over it. If I’m really hungry, I might throw in a few raw nuts or seeds. Stir it around a bit and the milk starts to freeze. It’s a kind of semi frozen treat. It works for yogurt, too.