At a pick-up a few years ago, one of our members confessed to Aaron that she didn’t have time to wash her salad greens the previous week and that they seemed perfectly clean. That is when we realized we hadn’t done a good job letting members know what is washed and what you will need to wash.
Bagged Salad Greens
All cut salad greens (mesclun, spinach, arugula, salad blends) that you get from our “salad bar” are already washed so they can go right from the bag to your salad bowl. You will probably find that these greens last much longer than greens you buy in the store. Think about it…they were cut and washed one day earlier. The same isn’t true of salad greens that come from California or Mexico – they spend several days in a truck getting across the country. If you fold a paper towel into quarters and slip it into the bag under the lettuce, it will help wick away moisture that can lead to the early demise of a fresh bag of greens.
Head lettuce is not washed. In fact, because it grows close to the ground, you may find some soil on it. Not a problem. Gently tear off the leaves and put them in a large bowl of cold water. The bowl needs to be big enough that you can swish the lettuce around in the water. If you have a lot of lettuce, you might be better off just filling up your sink. Let the water settle for a minute or two and then gently lift the lettuce leaves out of the water without disturbing it. I use a colander for holding lettuce in the washing process. Now repeat. This time you should notice less sand and soil. I always rinse salad greens straight from the garden three times.
Now, dry the lettuce. You can let it drain for a few minutes in the colander and then gently blot it with a paper or kitchen towel or ideally you would use a salad spinner. A salad spinner removes the water without damaging the lettuce.
When the lettuce is fairly dry, put it into a plastic zippered bag. I often add a dry paper towel folded into quarters and then pile the lettuce on top of it. Moisture is an enemy of fresh salad greens and the paper towel will wick away some of the remaining water droplets.