Yard Sale Mandoline

Unnecessary how-to: cleaning your fresh produce

I know. If you grew up eating at home, you learned how to wash produce. It’s really not a big deal. It’s not difficult. But this weekend, I discovered an abundance – and I do mean ABUNDANCE – of butterhead lettuce and spinach in my salad greens bed. Don’t believe me? Check out the load:

You're welcome for the shot of Daisy eating. That one's a freebie.

You’re welcome for the shot of Daisy eating. That one’s a freebie.

In order to avoid eating my weight in salad every meal (I still have PLENTY in the garden), it was giveaway time for the lettuce, and blanch-and-freeze time for the spinach, which means it was large-batch produce cleaning time in my kitchen sink. I thought I’d share my method for doing this. It works great when you have a voluminous amount of greens like I did, but is also perfect for taking care of a week’s worth of assorted produce, all at once. You can unload your grocery bag right into the sink with this method. I like it because it keeps the veggies crispy-crunchy until you use them – often a problem with organic produce that hasn’t been treated to withstand a long, diesel truck drive to you.

"Victoria" variety butterhead lettuce leaves.

“Victoria” variety butterhead lettuce leaves.

Step one: Fill a large bowl (or your very clean sink) with a 1:4 ratio of vinegar and water.

Step two: Mix up the vinegar and water, then dump in the goods. Swish them around and let them soak for a good five or ten minutes. This is where the magic happens.

This is the part of the process when you're really thankful you decided to do this. Ick.

This is the part of the process when you’re really thankful you decided to do this.

All better.

All better.

Step three: Lift out the veggies and place them in either a colander or the bowl of a salad spinner. I try not to collect kitchen tools that are only good for one type of project, as I don’t want to waste space, but allow me to make a case for the humble salad spinner. If you invest $20-30 in a good salad spinner, you will never eat a soggy salad again, and you’ll either save time you’d have normally spent drying veggies by hand – which also saves laundry or paper towels – or you’ll save space in your sink which would normally be taken up by a big colander, partially draining the veggies. Mine is Oxo brand and was one of my favorite wedding gifts five years ago. (Thanks, Joan and Anne!)

My love. My salad spinner.

My love. My salad spinner.

Give them a quick rinse. If you are using a colander, drain and pat the veggies dry. If you are using a salad spinner, spin away. Get the veggies completely dry, as you’re likely to be saving them for future use.

The same process with giant spinach leaves.

The same process with giant spinach leaves.

The finished product.

The finished product.

Step four: Store as needed, and enjoy soon. I am going to blanch, drain, and freeze the spinach, for some lovely party appetizers at some point down the road. One bag of lettuce went into a Father’s Day salad, and the other two went to obliging relatives.

I’d love to hear if any of you have had success with different ways to extend the life of your fresh produce. Chime in!

This entry was published on June 16, 2014 at 8:33 pm and is filed under Collection. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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