I have two issues when it comes to fresh greens:
- Washing and drying leaves makes me rage on the inside
- By the time I go to use them, they’re slimy
Obviously, we’re still going to have to wash our greens. BUT the kind of vegetation you choose can greatly influence the amount of time and effort you have to put into standing at the sink. Delicate young leaves, such as baby spinach, hold onto a lot of water when you wash them and they like to stick together, making them a bear to dry. I prefer heartier greens, like curly or lacinato kale, because they’re larger and most of the water shakes off easily. Even better? Collard greens. The water rolls right off! These types of greens are sturdy enough so you can really get in there and wipe off any grit or dirt.
I don’t know about you, but my hands get very dry if I have them in water often. I can’t do much about having to wash my hands but if I need to wash dishes or rinse greens I wear my kitchen gloves. Wash the front and back of each leaf. If it’s like this curly kale, make sure you get in all the folded areas to get all the junk out. Then let it drain on a drying mat.
Now we’re going to cut it all up because it takes up way too much fridge space in it’s whole form. Hearty greens, like these, have a stem that isn’t much good for eating. Well, not unless you’re going to cook them f o r e v e r. Which I’m not gonna do. So we’ll cut the stem out first. There are two ways we can get this done. The first is to make an “OK” sign with your thumb and pointer finger encircling the kale stem loosely. Then you slide your hand down the stem, stripping the leafy parts off as pictured below.
Or you can just press the leafy parts to one side and use a knife to cut beside the stem to remove it. Either way you end up with a pile of leafy bits and a naked stem.
Here’s where you can get creative and practice your knife skills. Cut the greens into pieces as big or small as you want. I like to cut wider pieces down the middle, stack ’em up and then cut those long skinny strips into bits. Or you can bunch them all up, holding them in your non-knife hand (keeping those fingers curled under to avoid chopping them off!) and running a knife through the bunch as you release it gradually.
The greens are clean and prepped and recipe ready at this point! If you’re storing them in the freezer for use in smoothies you can stuff the cut leaves in zip-top bags, squeezing as much air out of the bag before you close it. Then just label and freeze.
But if you want to keep them fresh for using in salads or sautéing, I take extra precaution to prevent them from going bad. This method keeps the leaves from getting slimy too quickly. I drizzle a tiny bit of water on a length of paper towel and squeeze as much water back out of it as I can. You want the towel to be just dampened, not wet. I spread the towel on the counter and arrange the washed and cut greens in a thin, even layer on top of it and roll it up kinda tight. If you go too hard on the roll here, you’ll bust it at the seams. You don’t want that. But we’re looking to get good contact with the damp towel and get some of the extra air out of it. Once you have a neat little roll you can place it in a plastic grocery bag and into the veggie drawer of the fridge. This way they’re ready for you when you’re ready for them 😉