How to Keep Greens Fresh

How to keep greens fresh and happy seems to be the culinary equivalent of keeping one’s skin young: it’s a losing battle, but everyone hopes to find the magic technique.

Wash, don’t wash (we’re talking about greens again now; we’ll address personal hygiene another time), wrap in plastic, cloth, or a paper bag, keep on the counter or refrigerate, and even this one: put the herbs upright in a glass of water and place on a shelf or in the door of your fridge. (That gave my French-sized refrigerator a good laugh.)

I’ve experimented with those ideas to varying degrees of success — mostly on the lower end of the scale — and after throwing out enough wilted herbs to start a compost heap, I’ve finally found the M.O. that works for me, so I thought I’d share.

When I get back from the greenmarket on Saturday mornings, I put my purchases away, sit down for a cup of coffee, then get to work.

Every week I get a few bunches of leafy herbs — flat-leaf parsley, chervil, cilantro — and one paper bag’s worth of small salad leaves, which I prefer over a head of lettuce. These days it’s a mâche fest (pictured above), but I’ll switch to arugula, baby spinach, or mesclun (mixed greens) when they’re in season again.

How to keep herbs fresh

I start with the herbs:

1. I remove any elastic or string tying them, and rinse them in a shallow bath of cold water in the bowl of my salad spinner. I drain the herbs, rinse them again if the water was a little brown, and spin them as dry as I can. I lay a clean dish towel flat on a work surface, arrange the herbs on top, and leave them out for 15 minutes, or until dry.

2. I line the bottom of a medium plastic container with a paper towel and, using kitchen scissors, snip the top of the herbs (tender stems + whole leaves) into the container, setting the stems aside in the freezer for stock, soups, and stews. I place a second paper towel on top, close the lid of the container, and place it in the fridge.

3. Then, over the next three or four days depending on the type of herb, all I have to do is open the container, take a handful of ready-to-use herbs, chop as needed, and add to salads and other dishes. Bliss, I tell you.

How to keep salad greens fresh

While the herbs are laid out to dry, I turn to the salad leaves.

1. If it’s mâche I’m dealing with, I take three or four tiny bouquets at a time, cut off the roots, and place the leaves in the empty salad spinner. For other kinds of greens, I simply sort through them to make sure none of the leaves are wilted or browned.

2. I then rinse the greens in just enough cold water to cover, drain, repeat (mâche typically requires three baths, the others just two), spin them dry dry dry, and leave them in the uncovered salad spinner to dry for about 20 minutes, shifting them around every now and then.

3. I line a large container with a paper towel, and arrange the salad leaves over it — they should not be packed too tight. I top them with another paper towel, close the container, and put it away in the refrigerator, ready to be used in a pinch over the next three or four days.

The power of paper towels is that they absorb the moisture, preventing the greens from turning limp and moldy. And the power of prepping the entire bunch in one go is, of course, that you don’t have to do it again every single time, thus saving some of your energy, and a bit of the planet’s water resources.

And this is my technique. What’s yours?

  • So that’s why salad spinners are so coveted . . .

  • Adriana

    I proceed in the same fashion, rinsing, spinning, and store them in a clean plastic bag with the least air possible. If they happen to wilt, leaving them in cold water will help revive them.

  • That is exactly what I do Clotilde. Except I’ve never thought to reuse the paper towels. Good idea.

  • Katie

    Thank you for posting this technique! We get our greens in a CSA box every Wednesday and it’s hard to use them all before they wilt. I forsee this technique becoming a Wednesday evening ritual.

  • This is like what I do, taken to the next level. I might have to adopt this system. I used to have this thing where I did all my ironing for the week on Saturday afternoon. Crazy!

    I just rinse them, roll them in paper towels, and stash them in bins.

  • I love getting fresh basil and popping the roots/stems in a (low) glass filled with water until I’m ready to use them. They stay fresh for quite some time!

  • ann

    sounds good… good enough to try. I’ve tried various things, too, with varying degrees of success. Mostly, I give them a good rinse and shake the water off, let them air dry for awhile (never timed it); parsley I put in a jar and put the lid on and pop in the fridge wherever it’ll fit (tell your fridge to quit laughing!); salad greens I wrap in a dry paper towel and put in a ziploc and zip it. Things like basil usu get that treatment, too. Dill- I try to use as fast as possible- have never had much luck keeping it. Should try your method…

  • I’ve tried the herbs in a glass of water like a bouquet, both in the refrigerator and on the counter, but it doesn’t seem to help much. The bottom of the herbs just end up all mushy and gross within a day or two.

    I’ll give your method a go next time.

  • For me, the problem is that salad greens quickly become limp in my refrigerator. So, after rinsing the greens, I wrap them *damp* in a dry paper towel, then put the paper package into a covered bowl or reused plastic bag (more space-efficient). I think that your herb technique is spot-on… who hasn’t witnessed a lovely bunch of cilantro deteriorate into a gooey mess after two days? Now, if you’ll excuse me, guilt is motivating me to prep a neglected container of mache in my own fridge…

  • I recently discovered Everfresh bags. I love them! They are also reusable. I think it’s kept everything a lot crispier for at least an extra week, but there is a story on the package- an experiment was done to store a tomato in one for 2 months-I don’t plan on trying that…

  • I am no expert but have been told by the nice man at the market that I should leave the wild rocket (arugula to Americans) in the fridge with the bag open and it keeps at least a week – he also told me that he only sells wild rocket because the tame type just doesn’t last!

  • Anna

    My technique is far less laborious (for the lazy cook!)…i fill a big bowl with cold water, dredge my herbs and greens a couple of times, trim the stems, wrap in paper towel making sure that the towel is completely wet and place wrapped herbs in ziplock bags.

  • Lorie

    The only difference is that I add a dash of vinegar to the water. I also get a CSA basket, and I read somewhere that the vinegar makes the bugs float off.

  • that’s exactly what i do too! the mint and cilantro that i bought nearly two weeks ago are still green, crispy and happy in their bed of paper towels in the herb container in the fridge. it’s a good exchange for a few minutes’ of picking, washing and drying. i guess if you love your produce, they’ll love you back.

  • Paper Towels + Herbs = Bliss

    I tend to lay the herb in a single layer on the paper towel, then roll it up like a cigar.

  • Alicia

    My grandmother leaves greens to soak for a bit in lightly salted water before drying and putting away. The salt is supposed to kill any tiny pests that might be lurking there, who drop to the bottom of the sink and get tossed out with the water. I find that fresh basil doesn’t even need to be put in the fridge if you pop the root in water you can leave them on a counter top or warm windowsill and they’ll grow roots and be fine for weeks. Doesn’t seem to work with other herbs so far though.

  • Thanks for the advice. I am always annoyed when I have to buy a huge bundle of herbs for one recipe. This will help a lot.

  • You can use clean cotton (lint-free) tea towels as well, and just wash them. Even better for the environment, because it doesn’t use a bunch of energy and trees to make each new one, and frankly works just as well.

  • I actually go with the in-a-glass-of-water method for herbs, right on the counter. They last well for a week or more that way.

    Greens… I just go through them. As quickly as possible; so after grocery day we have salad with meals; after that, no more salad. Or I just go back to the market.

  • this is exactly how my grandmother used to do it, and after she died, how my grandfather did. my mom’s method is similar at base but a little more lo-tech: she puts her herbs in a cloth bag (we’ve had the same ones, which she made herself from scrap fabric, for as long as i remember), then puts the cloth bag in a plastic bag.

    note that this system also works for cucumbers!

  • Excellent discipline to wash them all first! “Tender” herbs like coriander, basil and parsley I roll in damp paper towels and slide them into plastic bags that have holes punched into them (I “borrow” the bags from my vegetable seller). For hardier herbs like rosemary and thyme I keep in a glass of water in the fridge, covered with a plastic bag with holes punched into them. They keep for ages, but yes – the fridge does get cross with all the produce touching her sides (she’s funny that way).

  • SP

    I can vouch for the “bouquet” method, at least for parsley & cilantro. Untie the herbs, pick out the dead or bruised ones, and place stem-deep in a jar of cold water. *Wrap the whole thing in a plastic bag*, then put ’em in the fridge. Change the water every other day, removing any more dead stems, but there won’t be many! I don’t wash them beforehand, but I doubt that matters. I got some parsley a week ago, and it’s quite crisp.
    For leaf lettuce and loose greens, I wash & spin, then fold them into clean cotton dish towels. Then I loosely stuff the bundle in a plastic bag and put it in the crisper drawer. It lasts almost a week. I think the key with both techniques is restricting air. Strangely, prewashed greens seem to do best in their own bag, but they also seem to spoil fastest no matter what I try.

  • Great tutorial. The process is very similar to my habits. It’s what I did as a restaurant cook as well. I swear by the salad spinner, though I must admit I thought they were ridiculous the first time I saw one.

    If I’m feeling lazy or know I’ll be using my herbs in short order, I just wash off the dirt, shake loose the excess water, cut away the stems, wrap gently in a paper towel and slip the wrapped bunch in a zip-top plastic bag. It’s a sloppier method, but they hold up for a week or more in this way.

  • Nice tips. My greens always tend to go bad so fast, especially cilantro. It’s very annoying, but thanks for sharing!

  • ari

    i use a lazier version of the same trick — you see, i m among those bad people that buy bagged salad. so after i use some of the salad for the first time, i throw two sheets of paper towel into the bag, and then close the bag with a rubber band. i find it doesn’t really matter that the paper towels remain at the top of the bag, they will absorb the moisture into the bag anyway…

  • I do the bouquet in a glass of water thing for parsley, dill and cilantro, but with the addition of a plastic bag over the whole bouquet, which seems to help a lot in keeping the herbs fresh longer.

    But I like your method of doing all the prep at once, so I’ll give that a try. Looking forward to fresher greens again once our farmers markets getting rolling. Winter is so dreary without them.

  • I had an interesting experience with a bag of mâche I got from my local AMAP (CSA). My roommate had stuffed the mâche, packed pretty tightly in a Mariage Frères tea bag, and closed the top. It stayed fresh for over a week and normally that mâche is wilty in two days! I haven’t tried it again, but am going to.

  • Carol

    The glass method works for herbs – but only if you cover the whole lot in a plastic bag, which you then fasten around the glass with an elastic band (or just tie the handles together if, like me, you can never find an elastic big enough), and keep them in the fridge. I have been using this method for years with all types of herbs, and they keep for weeks. It’s also a lot quicker than all that washing and wrapping malarky!

    Oh and btw I have a french fridge too, but even with my australian and british fridges in the past I always put them on a shelf. Too much danger of water spillage if they’re in the door.

  • N

    eh, I just get frozen herbs (Picard, Daregal). Those of us who are less organized need more than a 3-4 day time-span to use up the herbs in the fridge!

  • msue

    Greens + paper towel in a ziploc usually works just fine.

    My smart herb expert neighbor says to always use the bouquet on the counter method for basil, which can turn dark when refrigerated.

  • I think it’s the paper towel that makes the difference. Putting them in a plastic box is good because it means that those fools you share the fridge with cannot dump something on top of your herbs and salad leaf and squash it. On hot days, when the salad leaf has wilted in its boxes at the market or on the way home, soak it in icy cold water for 20 minutes so it rehydrates, then process as Clotilde describes.

  • I know you don’t like this method Clotilde but I am huge fan of the glass of water method! My fridge is small too but I do manage to get them in there! i think I will try your method for the sake of my poor little fridge.

  • That is really the best way to do things. Thanks for the tip on the paper towels. I am so conflicted about using something that is just instantly thrown away.

  • Jae

    I too have had success with Evert-Fresh bags… I’ve found that they keep greens like cilantro and parsley crisp for at least a week in my fridge, and sometimes longer. I just pat the greens dry and stick them in the bags – if they are wet, they tend to get soggy. Also, I’ve found that the moist towell + the green bags = wet greens, probably because I don’t have enough space in the fridge to keep the moisture at the bottom

  • noknok

    For basil, I pinch off all but 4-6 leaves to use immediately. Place the stems with those last few leaves stem deep in water & leave in a bright window. Don’t allow direct sunshine (they’ll cook). In a week or so, you’ll notice roots starting to grow along the stem. Basil will “keep” like this for months, as you pick at it to keep it from blossoming. Or, you can pot them, once the roots are mature enough.

    Lemon grass can also be propogated in a similar fashion, cutting it down to about 5-6 inches and keeping the bottom end of the stem in water. What you don’t use can go into the ground in mid to late spring (here in Washington DC). It multiplies like mad once planted.

  • I find it less trouble to wash that which will benefit from such, drain the water in a colander for a while and then to put the greens in a plastic bag, in the refrigerator, overnight, turning the greens so that the wet surface is exposed to as much cold air as possible. You see, the ‘frig acts as a dehydrator on it’s own. Once the leaves are dry, they keep excellently well. The only herb leaf I can’t keep with/or without washing-handling-nurturing is BASIL. It won’t keep.

  • jocelyn

    this is exactly my technique! except without the salad spinner because i don’t have one. i just flick them dry and change the paper towel once.

  • This method speaks to the kind of orderly, organized life that I cannot even imagine. I’m lucky if my farmer’s market purchases make it off the kitchen floor before they rot. Sometimes, they are forgotten on the back porch for a day or so. But if I ever do have time, I will definitely try this.

  • I wash my greens in the salad spinner, and then store the entire salad spinner in the refrigerator, with the salad greens still inside. The little bit of moisture left seems to help everything stay crisp, and the mesh basket also allows the greens to get enough air circulating around them!

  • Joan

    it read as a scene from a film…bliss indeed!

  • This post couldn’t have come at a better timing for me. I went to an organic farm yesterday picked a bunch of fresh mint that had already wilted a lot by the time I brought them home. I’ll try your method and hopefully I can save some of my mint. Thanks!

  • John Hutch

    The glass/water/plastic cover works quite well but I’ll try the container/paper towel too.

  • In addition to herbs, if you can’t get to fresh asparagus right away, try standing the spears up in a glass of water.

  • gingerpale

    The USA organic bagged salad company “Earthbound Farm” was begun on 2 1/2 acres 20 years ago by a young couple and now does over $300 million a year. They bagged greens for their own use and realized it was a good idea. (An article here, if you’d like to read more.) When you open good “bagged greens” you open an airtight bag free of water-droplets, like Clotilde explained. (The bagged spinach beats the “fresh” bunches almost always, at least in my grocery.) One note–at the end of the article it said “removing oxygen and adding nitrogen” to the bag kept the greens fresh longer. Maybe there’s a way to do this at home–maybe not!

  • One of the craziest things I discovered while working in a restaurant kitchen is that if one puts fresh herbs (unwashed) in a plastic tupperware-like container whose bottom is covered with stones or pebbles, the herbs will last for weeks. No water, just place the herbs on the rocks and put the lid on the container Swear. This is almost completely useless info for the home cook with a small fridge, but it works well if you can find a way. I, however, have not found a way to put a container like this in my fridge.

  • I love iceberg lettuce, growing up with it in southern California. I keep mine a week or more in the fridge this way: take the head out of the plastic wrap, remove the outermost leaves (dirty from being handled), smash the base against the sink and remove the heart by twisting and pulling. Pour water in the cavity left by the heart and let it sit, cavity up, in the sink for 10 minutes. Turn it over to drain for another 10 minutes. Put it in a plastic bag and into the fridge. If not eaten fast enough, the base of the lettuce leaves (near the cavity) will turn brown. Cut the brown spots off.

  • kate

    We use a similar idea for storing blocks of cheddar cheese – take it out of the plastic wrapper, place into an airtight container with a sheet of paper towel, close the container and store in the fridge. This way, the cheese doesn’t become mouldy.

  • Bravo for re-using paper towels! There’s nothing wrong with that and it goes a long way in honoring the noble plants whose products we’re so quick to throw out.

    I’m glad you mentioned that, Clotilde, since it’s those little things that truly add up. I’d love to see a post dedicated especially to all the little ways you keep your kitchen “green,” since you seem to have such an attention to detail for your mis en place.

    Since I don’t have a salad spinner, I enjoy whipping freshly washed greens around until dry. It’s a good way to dry, good exercise, and also acts as crude humidifier for dry, New England winters indoors.

    I’d also like to remind everyone that there’s a useful stage between fresh and slimy when using greens. If you have more fresh herbs or leafy greens than you can use immediately, you can always hang them out of direct sunlight and have your own excellent dried herbs.

  • Hi Clotilde,

    I enjoyed the theme of this post. The lesson will go to good use in a few weeks when the market open here.

    I’ve read you for years now, and I finally found a way to honor you and one of your cakes in my illustration blog. Have a look if you have a second.

  • Reynolds Handi-Vac is an inexpensive battery-powered gadget about the size of an electric toothbrush that works with special ziplock plastic bags, available in quarts or gallon size. There’s a small port in an upper corner of the bag. Put the salad greens, herbs, cheese, fish, or meat (I first wrap fish & meat in plastic wrap because I do reuse the bags.) Place gadget over port, push button, and about 30 seconds the air is removed. Food lasts so much better, refrigerated or frozen. Soft things must be frozen first – English muffins become flattened like hockey pucks.

    And the rinse water from salad and herbs is good for watering houseplants and windowboxes.

  • I find that if I chop up a bunch of herbs, rosemary, thyme, chives, tarragon, whatever I happen to buy, and keep it in a ziploc sandwich bag with a dampened paper towel, I’ll use them more quickly. Mostly as an accent to a dish, like salt or pepper. Basil and cilantro though, maybe I just don’t use them fast enough, but no matter what I do they still go black quickly.

  • Nina

    Many years ago, when doing a course at a London cooking school, we were taught to take herbs, thoroughly washed, and place them in the blender with a cup of water. Blend them, and then pour through a muslin cloth. When most of the water has drained, squeeze the muslin as firmly as possible to get out all the remaining water. At that point, the herbs can be stored in a plastic bag in the fridge, or frozen. Either way they can simply be sprinkled out of the bag. Frozen they last for months, in the fridge about 10 days.
    I love to keep some herbs in a jug on the window ledge. However the water need to be changed each day to avoid the stems becoming slimy. I use half water, half crushed ice to keep then fresher in the summer.

  • hill

    Ha! Am I really the *only* one to use aluminum foil for herbs? I tried it a few years ago and it’s worked great ever since. Good for both unwashed and washed herbs (wrap in paper towel before the foil for the latter). Easy to shove the bundle into small fridges, and the foil can be re-used. Just make sure to wrap well from top to bottom of the bouquet.

  • Ah…thank you for the tips! My salad always gets green too soon….

  • Diane

    Hi Clothilde,
    Thanks for the details on how you wash herbs and greens. I was especially pleased to read that you dry your paper towels to use again. I thought I was the only one who would go to that extreme of recyling.

  • Mheengan

    Washing tip: use lukewarm water to wash herbs and greens such a spinach, mustard, etc. and the dirt will fall to the bottom. I use aluminum foil for celery, without the paper towel, and it will keep for weeks. Also wrap things like peppers in dry paper towels and put in zip bags.

  • Rachel

    I’m definitely going to try this! I’ve always been a bit confused by all of the differing methods, but this seems really straightforward.

    While I would normally applaud reusing anything that you can, in this case I would recommend not reusing paper towels, at least in the US. At least here (France may have different production methods that make this a non-issue), a lot of food-borne diseases are actually spread through raw greens and veggies. Although you would be washing the greens pretty thoroughly, I still would not reuse these paper towels, just to be safe.

  • Tania

    I think I am a genius because I came up with this idea for super-lazy lettuce loving people. I invested in one of those more expensive salad spinners with a plastic bowl, inner basket and a flat lid. After I rinse and spin dry the leaves (as soon as I get home from the market). I leave the lettuce in my salad spinner and put it all in the fridge. Yes, it takes up a lot of room… but it’s worth it. I like the flat lidded spinner, cause it allows enough room to place a plate or other flat things on top of it in the fridge.

    The special inner basket of the spinner keeps the leaves away from any water that might collect at the bottom of the bowl so it keeps the lettuce dry (hence negating the need for paper towels). I fantasized about buying the more expensive salad spinner for years before I finally bit the bullet and bought one. What an investment! I can just grab as many leaves as I like every day… sometimes the lettuce lasts up to two weeks! If I had room in my fridge, I’d do the same with my herbs…

  • marie

    I rinse my salad, dry it in the salad spinner, put it in a plastic bag, leaving lots of air in there, closing the bag making it look like a balloon. This works fine for several days.
    Herbs I rinse, dry, chop and put what I don’t use straight away in the freezer. I’m too slow to use all before it’s wilted, hence the freezer option.

  • Somehow it is fascinating to find that someone has made the same discovery as you! After a summer of getting weekly lettuce in our CSA box, I do nearly the exact same thing. It is brilliant.

    And it really is all about the paper towels.

  • Mary

    Thanks for passing this on – I too have thrown out compost heaps of once fresh but not any longer greens. I’ll definitely try this! Exactly when do I get the cup of coffee in the process?

  • mona

    I do something similar except that I use clean and lint free pillow cases for the larger lettuce leaves – it works well and is a nice way to use those thread bare oddly colored pillow cases that look outdated – Just be sure to wash the pillow cases in a very neutral soap or no soap just on hot cycle

  • I’ve had great success with herbs in a glass of water. I do it only when the herbs still have their roots on them. By placing only the roots in the water the herbs seem to last a long time and look great on my window sill, taking in the sun.
    If the herbs are cut, I wash them well and roll them up still damp in a paper towel and place them in the refrigerator. It works really well!

  • hari

    A very helpful post Clotilde. Thank you for sharing this.

  • Stephanie

    I’ve discovered Press’n’Seal wrap keeps cilantro and other greens fresh for 1-2 weeks. You can reuse it a time or two, but not much more.

  • Paula Ceder

    Your technique is much like mine.

    I shop our local farmers’ markets twice a week and spend a lot on fresh organic produce, so making it last is important.

    The key factor in maintaining quality is to protect the delicate greens from the cold circulating air in the refrigerator. This air will kill your salad more quickly than any other refrigerator challenge.

    So place your freshly washed, well-dried greens in a thick walled plastic container of the Rubbermaid type you purchase rather than the thinner ones you get with your deli purchases.

    Then be sure to place your plastic containers either in the crisper to further protect them from the cold ciculating air, or place them on the top shelf ( the warmest) of the refrigerator.

    I regularly keep even the most delicate of greens 5-7 days with this method.

  • I’ve kept greens and herbs this way for up to 6 weeks. I change the paper towel on average every 2 weeks. I put the containers low down in the fridge.

    Any leaves that look wilted are removed along the way and if are too far gone for us to enjoy they are fed to our worm farm with other food scraps and the wet paper towel extracted from the plastic containers.

  • carol

    For Herbs, I save large jars with lids…like the Costco Artichoke Hearts bottle, and put rinsed/dried herbs in there with the lid on in the fridge. Parsely keeps for WEEKS. Lettuce leaves keep for weeks rinsed and patted dry, in a ziplock with a paper towel….. if only elec. weren’t so dear i would have one fridge just for greens!!!!!

  • maliha

    i use the glass-water method for cilantro. amazing results. i ll try the salad spinner for the salad, i like the idea of storing salad leaves in the salad spinner in the fridge.thnks!

  • Patty

    I use cotton towels, the flour sack variety, rather than paper towels. The same technique works VERY well for fresh strawberries!

  • Carrie

    @Rachel – it depends. I re-use paper towels to line a sieve to catch coffee grounds, tea leaves, the residue from soaked pans or to sieve my dishwashing water. (Yes, the sieve is disgusting and needs to be soaked in mild-bleach solution – but my drains never block and they are less likely to smell or develop slime mould because less food matter passes through them. The sieve is only used for that purpose, never for anything else.)

  • theo

    Salad spinner – all the way.

    I hate to say a gadget makes things better but the OXO large salad spinner is worth its weight in gold. My salad leaves won’t wilt for upto 10 days in this thing. It helps clean them at first and then stores them dry, with some moisture sealed in the container.

    Since I joined my CSA group I’ve thought about buying a second one simply for the fresh storage aspect.

    Hope this treats you as well as it has for me.

  • yasmin

    you are right.Ihave found that drying greens before referigarating them keeps them fresh for longer.But today noticing that due to moisture it wasn`t entirely successful.Thats where your site came in.Tanks to the tip about using paper towels I think I will be okay now.Istill believe in not cutting of the stems though. THANKS

  • D

    I’ve been using pretty much this same method for a while now, but I found that the perspiration from the greens themselves, even with the paper towel in the container, would ruin them eventually. What solved it for me was simply leaving the lid popped in one corner – they last longer and stay crunchier and crisper longer, too. Try it!

  • kristyn

    I like this technique, the only thing I might offer is to consider using unbleached or unprocessed paper towels for this purpose since they are coming in direct contact with your food :)

  • Ron Rozman

    FORGET TRYING TO KEEP MESCLUN GREENS WET. They must be completely dry to not begin to rot. The inexperienced kid who became produce manager at my local Hannaford Supermarket decided they should be kept wet. I can’t buy them there anymore unless I get them from the box in the back. Now he has started wetting the greens in the box too! FRUSTRATED!

  • Kitty

    Thanks for all the info — I’ve been trying to convince a friend that storing greens in PERFORATED plastic bags or clamshells does NOT improve longevity in the ‘fridge.

    Yes on the spinner, for sure. I found a nice string-pull one at the thrift store, actually. Can’t use it for storing greens in the ‘fridge because I use it for lots of other greens.

    SO, this may sound “gross”, but after rinsing/spinning the greens, put them in a plastic bag or ziploc, express the air, then blow it up like a balloon, shake it up a bit and twist/seal shut. If you don’t have a spinner, line the bag with a paper towel first.

    Does the CO2 neutralize the methane coming off the produce? I don’t know. I DO know that blowing up/shaking the bag “fluffs” up the contents, and then keeps them separated and chilled after they’ve been in the ‘fridge for a while.

    • Thanks for the fun tip, Kitty! I’m not sure how concerned we should be about the germs we blow into the greens, but I imagine that if they’re just going to be eaten by yourself and a spouse/family member, there are worse things to worry about. I actually use that method in reverse to “vacuum-pack” foods before freezing.

  • Sarah

    My big tip is for broccoli (well, strictly speaking calabrese, which is marketed as broccoli here in the UK: cut off the bottom half inch or so (1.5-2cm) of the stem and stand the broccoli in a cup of cold water in the fridge. Your veg stays crisp and green for a week or more. It even crisps up slighly limp brocc if that is all you can find.

    For leaves, I use a paper towel in a plastic bag of washed leaves, but I am really going to have a go at this technique more thoroughly for my leaves and herbs.

    • Thanks for the broccoli tip! I’ll try it next time I crave broccoli and can’t find the kind of fresh, firm one you’re supposed to look out for.

  • Ursula

    I’ve had some luck with herbs (with stems freshly trimmed) just standing upright in a glass or vase of water on the countertop, as with a bunch of flowers. They don’t last forever, but definitely stay perky and green for several days. They look pretty too!

    • I’m glad that works for you Ursula! I have found that my fresh herbs wilt very quickly on the countertop, even in a glass of water. Maybe it’s warmer in my kitchen than it is in yours?

      • Cheryl

        I have only found that to work with basil, but it works really well, but you have to replace the water every day. I live in So. Cal and my kitchen is relatively warm in summer, but I managed to keep basil fresh for almost 2 weeks that way!

        • Oh that’s right, it does work with basil! It feels like the stems and leaves are a bit sturdier. My mother does that also, and oftentimes the stems sprout roots and the basil keeps even longer that way.

  • Amie Castro Jaryniewich

    I will try this suggestion. I have gone through other techniques and they do not work. I do not cook with fresh herbs everyday, but I love using them vs dry herbs. I have dried mint, basil that I have taken from my mother’s garden and keep them in a baggie. I make sure there isn’t any air in the bag as I seal it.

    • I find fresh herbs add such vibrancy to cooking! They do take a little effort to purchase and keep fresh, but the benefit is immense.

  • Deo

    Being ultra lazy and strapped for time, I take a plastic box of lettuces/field greens/herbs, remove the top layer (to remove the weight compression factor – sometimes they really STUFF these boxes) and after a a quick rinse, eat them right away with something (I’m hungry after a good shop). Then I take a clean, pointed, sharp knife and stab the plastic box a couple of times at the sides to create air flow, especially the lower part where the leaves are weighted down and moist. Then I shake the box upside down for a couple of seconds so the oxygen can circulate through the leaves. This seems to double their life in the fridge.

  • Channon Doughty

    Thank you so much for the lesson on keep herbs fresh. I have long wondered how people ever get to use up an entire bunch of fresh herbs! In the USA, they are sold in what, to me, seems to be huge bunches, which oftens turns me off purchasing them at all. Now, I can dip my toes back in to the fresh herb pond!
    For my salads, I do something similar to your method. I buy whole heads of Romaine lettuce and a head of red cabbage. I separate the Romaine leaves and soak them in cold water for a while to clean them and to get them nice and crisp. I don’t have a salad spinner, so my method takes much longer, but since most of that time is waiting for them to dry, I don’t mind. I drain them well in a colander, them move to the table. I lay down a bath-sized towel (I keep a few old ones in a cabinet for kitchen use) and cover that with paper towels. Then I de-stem and tear the lettuce, removing any dark or discolored ends and scattering it all over the towels, then put a clean fan on them on low, using small objects to hold down the edges of the towels. It takes anywhere from 30 min- 2 hours for them to dry, depending on the humidity levels. I make a point to check on them every so often and toss them around to find wet spots. When they are mostly dry but still firm, I shave off some red cabbage and sprinkle it over the salad, then I gather it all up and put it in gallon zip bag(s). This method keeps the salad clean and crisp for a least a week!! Bag salads are for sale everywhere in the US, but they spoil so fast, they are a huge waste of money, not to mention all the salmonella cases and chemicals used to keep them fresh.

    • Channon Doughty

      and if they are getting soft, but still damp, I put some of the paper towels in the bottom and sides of the bags.

    • Thanks so much for sharing your approach, Channon, such an interesting read. I agree with you about bagged salad leaves. I don’t understand them at all. :)

  • Sue Spiker

    Clotilde I’m interested that you don’t store the leaves you’ve spun in the salad spinner? Do you find that they don’t last as well this way? I wash & spin mine the same way but then I also store in the spinner.

    • I would if I had a bigger fridge, but my salad spinner actually doesn’t fit inside. :D

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