Cleaning Garden Greens

I love to eat lettuce - especially Romaine and leaf lettuce, but I have a problem. I hate cleaning it! There is so much rinsing and drying involved! You see, I'm impatient. Therefore I go to the market and buy lettuce in a bag.  Simpler, but.... not as fresh. There is a difference.Lettuce Salad

Lucky for me I have a husband that doesn't mind rinsing and spinning and drying. Of course, he would eat a large lettuce salad every night - topped with whatever is leftover in the refrigerator.

So to help him out - I did some investigating into the lettuce washing issue. I'm planning to pass on this little list of salad notes - so you may as well get the benefit too!

Some tips to remember...

  • When washing fresh spinach, soak the leaves in very cold water, then rinse several times. Spinach is grown is sandy soil and you want to make sure this is no sand in the bottom of the rinse bowl. Who wants to bite into gritty sand?
  • Boston lettuce is very tender and sweet. It should be torn, not sliced with a knife, to savor its buttercrunch flavor. A metal knife will bruise the lettuce and turn the edges brown. If you want to use a knife use a plastic knife specially made for lettuce and greens.
  • Cleaning lettuce is easy. Take the head of green leaf and hold it upside down and dunk it into the sink full of water three or four times. Break leaves off the stalk individually and rinse.
  • Drying lettuce is important, especially because it lasts longer in the refrigerator after it has dried.
  • Let lettuce dry completely before adding dressing to it. Dressing clings better to dry lettuce.
  • Salad spinners work well if you use them correctly. They usually come with 2 bowls - the inner bowl is generally a plastic lattice that lets the water and dirt drain away and keeps the lettuce in. Put the lettuce in the latticework bowl, put that inside the outer plastic bowl, fill with cold water, and allow it to sit for at least a few minutes. This allows the dirt to settle to the bottom. Then lift the latticework bowl out and pour out the water. Put it back into the now-empty clear plastic bowl, and top with lid. Then either pump or pull the rotating mechanism to spin the inner lattice bowl. Then press the stop button. Remove the lettuce and you should have almost dry lettuce. You may want to empty the bottom bowl and repeat for a crisp and dry lettuce that will be great with your homemade dressing.
  • An alternative to the spinner is to sew three sides of two terrycloth towels together leaving one open end like a pillowcase. Place leaves into the bag and shake until dry.
  • For iceberg lettuce, hold the lettuce head with both hands and firmly hit the head, core side down, against your countertop. Then twist the core and it should come right out. To clean the lettuce, run water into the area where the core was removed. Invert the lettuce and allow the water to drain out before using.

  • Make lettuce last longer. Keep it in a vented produce keeper or salad bag. You need to wick the water away from the lettuce, so put paper towels in the bottom of a plastic container and put lettuce on top. This helps the lettuce last longer.

Now you have some ideas on how to tackle the fresh lettuce you just purchased. One more tip - prepare some right now and enjoy with your favorite raspberry vinaigrette dressing!