Wednesday, July 17, 2013

STOP! Don't toss those veggies!

The other day I picked the leaves off the Swiss chard and spinach that is bolting in the garden. I gathered enough to almost fill a gallon size planting bucket I had on hand. Something else caught my attention and I forgot that the bucket was sitting there so it stayed out all night and most of the next day before I went looking for it. By the time I got around to it, the leaves were awful puny. They were limp and lifeless, no doubt unsuitable for a salad. Rather than toss those valuable greens onto the compost heap, I grabbed a few bowls and some really cold water and went to work reviving them. You may not have ever left your greens in the hot sun all day, but maybe you've let them hang out in the crisper a tad too long. I'm here to tell you there is hope for those wilted green goodies. Here, I'll show you what to do to make them almost as good as new. The really good news? This technique also works for celery and carrots. Give it a try for fresh green beans too. I've tried reviving julienned bell peppers, but unfortunately, they stayed soft. For best results, make sure the water is extra cold, as in, throw a few ice cubes in for good measure.

(I'm pretty sure we all know the difference between wilted and rotting. But just in case, you should know this isn't a miracle solution. If it's fuzzy, slimy, or a bit, shall we say, "aromatic," then it's better off in the compost bin.)

So here's the before pic. You can see my setup pretty well. I've got a bowl for rinsing and two bowls of really cold water. See how sad and droopy the chard looks?


If you've left them outside fresh after picking, they'll need a bit of a rinse before tossing them into the cold water. I'm trying to be vigilant about our water waste, so I just used a bowl of cool water and changed it as needed rather than run the tap.

Then, put the leaves in the cold water. As you add more in, you'll gently press down so that they are all submerged.

 
 
This is a pic of a leaf just before going in.
 

Here, after about 10 minutes sitting in the water.



And 30 minutes...

 

And here after about an hour long bath. Nice and crunchy again! I'll give these a thorough wash now and use them or store them in the crisper. Remember, the longer veggies are off their root system and out of your tummy, the more nutrients they lose. So use them quick!



The thing is, we're not a big fan of chard in our salads. Instead, I add them to soups and stews so they give a nice punch of color and vitamins. Well, when I throw them in the hot broth, they wilt again. But... these will store nicely for a day or so in the fridge until I'm ready to use them.

And there you have it! Do you have any kitchen tips to share? Leave a comment below and let us hear it.

Adrienne