From Soil to City

How to Store Fresh Salad Greens


How do you store salad greens? Most people store salad greens in a plastic bag or sealed container, but these techniques only work against you, hastening the loss of phytonutrients, crispness, and flavor. Jo Robinson’s Eating On The Wild Side (a CSA member’s best friend) and our salad mix farmer Zach Wolf taught us how to store greens correctly. Do this for lettuce, microgreens, salad greens, spinach, kale and collards!

How to store your greens:

1. Get a large ziplock bag and a push pin or clothespin. Puncture the bag with the pin through both sides, creating little breathing holes for your greens. Create 20 evenly spaced holes.

WHY THE HOLES? These tiny pinpricks provide the ideal level of humidity inside the bag and enable the beneficial exchange of gases. When plants are harvested, they do not die; they continue to consume oxygen and produce carbon dioxide. They’re still breathing! If you store greens in completely sealed bags, the carbon dioxide level rises and oxygen level falls, and after a few days the leaves will die from lack of oxygen. As a result, their crispness and phytonutrients also disappear. The opposite happens in open bags– the leaves are exposed to too much oxygen and respire rapidly, using up its stored sugar and antioxidants.

2. Pull off the leaves, rinse them, and soak for 5-10 min in very cold water. The cold water lowers their temperature, which slows the aging process. Dry with a salad spinner or towel. Any moisture left on the surface hastens their decay!

3. COOL TIP: If you tear up the lettuce before you store it, you’ll double its antioxidant value! The living plant responds to the damage as if it was being gnawed by an insect or animal, and will thus create phytonutrients to fend off the intruder. If you do this, eat within 24 hours because tearing leaves also hastens their decay.

4. Put greens into the pin-pricked bag, seal it. There should be some air in the bag and do not compress the bag. Store in the crisper.