Leafy greens are widely recommended for their health-promoting properties. Leafy greens contain high levels of vitamins (A, E, K), minerals (iron, magnesium, potassium, and calcium), and dietary fiber; which, helps regulate the digestive system and aids in weight management.
Leafy greens also contain an abundance of carotenoids — antioxidants that protect cells and play roles in blocking the early stages of cancer. To increase the bioavailability of iron, squeeze fresh lemon or lime juice over your greens (or add fresh lemon/lime juice to your salad dressing).
When it comes to satisfying your appetite, it helps to eat foods that are nutrient-dense; however, there is no need to eat leafy greens alone. Consider adding leafy greens to salads, sandwiches, wraps, superfood bowls, smoothies, and soups.
If the bitterness of greens bothers you, you can easily create a 25:75 or 50:50 mix using the more mild greens (e.g., iceberg, romaine, or baby greens). In general, baby greens tend to be more tender, nutritious, and milder in flavor than mature greens.
Handling Leafy Greens
- When shopping, pack fresh salad greens in plastic bags so they are kept separate from other groceries, especially raw meats and poultry.
- To reduce the risk of foodborne illness refrigerate salad greens at 35 to 40 degrees F within two hours of purchasing.
- Store leafy greens away from fruits that produce a lot of ethylene gas (e.g. tomatoes and apples), which causes greens to wilt and spoil quickly.
- Always wash hands before preparing salads and make sure you are working with a clean cutting board.
- Wash lettuce just before using by running cold water over leaves. If leaves are difficult to clean, consider immersing leaves in a cold bowl of water for a few minutes to help remove sand and/or dirt.
- After rinsing, blot leaves dry with a clean paper towel or use a salad spinner to remove excess water.
- Plan to use lettuce and other salad greens within one week of purchase.
Storage of Leafy Greens
Storing Spinach, Swiss Chard, and Collard, Dandelion, and Turnip Greens
These greens retain their crispness if kept in the coolest part of the fridge for up to 4 days. Wrap in damp paper towels and store unwashed in a perforated plastic bag.
Kale is tastiest if eaten soon after purchase, but it should keep in the refrigerator for up to a week if stored in a perforated plastic bag with its leaves close together.
Storing Chicory and Escarole
These greens retain their crispness for up to a week if kept in the coolest part of the fridge. Wrap in damp paper towels and store unwashed in a perforated plastic bag.
Storing Brussels Sprouts
Place unwashed Brussels sprouts in a paper bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator, where they should keep for 3 to 4 days.
Hearty sprouts such as mung bean can be kept in a sealed plastic bag in the fridge, but more delicate varieties such as pea shoots and alfalfa sprouts need ventilation and should be refrigerated in the plastic containers they’re sold in. They should keep for 2 to 3 days.
Storing Kohlrabi Greens
These greens are very perishable, so wrap in damp paper towels and store unwashed in a perforated plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. They should keep for a couple of days.
Storing Red and Green Leaf Lettuce
Store these lettuces unwashed in a loosely closed plastic bag in the refrigerator. They will keep for 2 to 3 days.
Store Romaine lettuce unwashed in a loosely closed plastic bag in the refrigerator, or wash the leaves, dry them thoroughly, and refrigerate in a tightly sealed plastic bag. Either way, Romaine should last for up to a week.
Storing Boston Lettuce
Store this butterhead lettuce unwashed in a loosely closed plastic bag in the refrigerator. It should keep for 2 to 3 days. If you wash the leaves, dry them thoroughly, and refrigerate in a tightly sealed plastic bag, Boston lettuce will last for about a week.
Storing Iceberg Lettuce
Store iceberg lettuce unwashed in a perforated or loosely closed plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper. It will keep for about a week.
Storing Arugula and Mesclun
These salad greens are very perishable, so wrap them in damp paper towels and store unwashed in a perforated plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. They should keep for 2 to 3 days.
Storing Salad Mixes
Unopened salad mixes will stay fresh in the refrigerator until the “Best By” date stamped on the front of the bag. Once opened, the salad should keep for several days, stored in a sealed plastic bag.
This green retains its crispness for up to 4 days if kept in the coolest part of the fridge. Store unwashed in a perforated plastic bag.
The delicacy that serves mâche well in your salad is its enemy in the refrigerator. Don’t plan on storing it more than 1 or 2 days.
Storing Belgian Endive, Frisée, and Radicchio
To store these lettuces, place in dampened paper towels or perforated plastic bags and store in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. They should keep for up to 5 days; after that they will lose their crispness.
To keep cress fresh, immerse stems in water or wrap them in a damp paper towel and refrigerate for no more than 2 or 3 days.
Storing Lollo Rosso
Lollo rosso is very perishable, so wrap it in damp paper towels and store unwashed in a perforated plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator, where it should keep for 2 to 3 days.
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