Monday, June 13, 2011

How to Wash & Store & Use Greens

Hello -
This week's distribution reminded me that I haven't sent my annual e-mail as to how to use greens.  It's that time of year.  We're not quite to summer yet.  The fruiting veggies are a bit off (like 4 - 6 weeks).  So, we have a lot of greens.  Kale, lettuce, chard, collards, choi, mustard, turnip greens, yukina savoy, summerfest kamustuna, etc.  If you have not worked with greens in the past, here's a post I added last year.  Basic Greens  You can also search the recipe blog for collards or kale or greens or other items and see what I've posted.  If you have a recipe to contribute, I can add it to the blog.  I need to add one that Kristi Bishop forwarded last week. 

If you're picking up your box in the middle of the day, don't leave it in the car.  That will be a problem.  At minimum, take it into work and keep it by your desk.  I don't refrigerate things (yet) so if you keep them in a coolish place, that's best.  Best case scenario is to take the veggies home and place them in your crisper drawer.

If you don't have a salad spinner, you might want to buy one.  I don't always wash items as they can keep longer if they aren't wet and sitting in a box for distribution.  If it's really dirty, we'll wash it and try to dry it as much as possible.  So, you will receive greens that might be a bit wilted.  A good way to pep up your veggies is to soak them in cold water for 15 - 30 minutes, spin them in the salad spinner and use them.  If you're going to cook with them right away, just let them drip dry and cook.  The extra water will help them steam a bit.  If you're not cooking with them right away and plan to store them in the fridge, it's best to spin them and place them in an airtight container.  I use zip loc bags but others have raved about Tupperware containers.  I also like to store veggies in the salad spinner.

For greens, it's up to you.  Many people soak, spin and bag their greens the day of pick up.  I find this a bit time consuming. We generally keep our greens in the fridge and then, when we use them, we'll cut them up, wash & soak for a bit in cold water then cook.  It's generally not a big deal to cook wilted greens as they're going to wilt in the skillet anyway.   Try to remember that these are really fresh, even if they are a bit wilted.

For lettuce, soak whole in cold water for awhile, spin and store in either the salad spinner or in your crisper in plastic bags.  If you don't get it dry enough, it will start to deteriorate.  If you have a choice in order in which to consume veggies, I'd start with lettuce and then move to the heartier greens.  We generally have greens every night and I'll pull out the salad spinner which contains washed lettuce (as much as a week or so from picking).  You might need to trim the ends off of the lettuce or pick a few leaves out but it keeps pretty well this way.

Another item that might be worth buying is a cuisinart.  We have a smaller version but, as we do a LOT of food preservation, I wish we had a larger version.  But it works.  This is good to use when making pestos, relishes, etc.  Also, many members have raved about the benefits of a veggie shake maker.  The name escapes me right now (Veggi mite?).  But it's a super-high powered blender which is capable of reducing greens to a shake in a minute.  A great way to use your greens and get your vitamins and minerals in.  Many people combine a bit of fruit with the veggies to enhance the flavor.

I hope members will work with and enjoy the veggies.  They won't always look like those that you buy from the market.  They're not sitting under sprinklers, in coolers.  We know that part of the eating experience is the visual presentation.  But we hope that you can overcome small holes, blemishes, some wilting, etc. and still work with the veggies and try them.  They aren't selected for size or visuals.  We are pretty selective about what we distribute but it's not based upon what the veggie looks like.  We taste the veggies before we pick them.  Sometimes we cook them to try them before we serve them.  So, if you can, please try what's in your box. You can also find other ways to use it, such as soup or stock.

The veggies are grown with true care and are picked, in most cases, the day of or day before you pick up your share.

The share size will increase with time.  For the next couple of weeks it will be smaller than later in the season.  The first week and a half was a bit smaller than last year but it is "growing" with time.

Thanks to you all.