You know what's a sad moment? Opening the fridge at the end of the week and finding all those lovely bunches of greens, once perky and crisp, to be wilty and drooping. Rest assured that it happens to all of us, even us farmers! But there are ways to reduce and mitigate the wilt so read on!
As your CSA farmers we try to be a resource for you to get the most out of your weekly vegetables. From recipes to storage tips we want you to enjoy everything to the fullest and hopefully reduce food waste in the process!
One question I get from a lot of folks is how to store their greens and herbs so they stay fresh longer. So let's get into it! The main goal is to keep these vegetables moist enough so they don't dry out and wilt. Our at-home fridges aren't the best at this so we have to come up with creative solutions.
When I get my share home, I first pull everything out and arrange it on the counter for maximum visual appreciation. This step is optional :) But it also gives me a chance to assess what types of vegetables I received and plan how they'll all fit into the fridge, which is always a challenge in my house!
Greens like lettuce kale, chard, and kale, I always put in a bag. Usually I find that even after I get home the greens are still lightly wet from getting washed at the farm, so I can go straight to bagging. However if they've dried out, I'll spritz some cool tap water on them first. Then find the biggest ziploc bag you have!
Sometime with chard I'll separate the stems from the leaves so it's easier to fit into one bag. Don't throw those colorful ends away though, they're delicious! Kale and collards are sturdier greens and I don't mind squishing those more to fit into a bag, stems and all. You can even use the green compostable bag your share comes in, just make sure to tie the top as secure as you can to reduce the amount of air getting in. Air is the enemy here, drying out those lovely fresh leaves.
If you do end up with wilty greens, however, don't despair! Cooking greens like the chard, kales, and collards, will be just fine and not any less delicious if you cook them after they've gone wilty. Even with a head of lettuce that looks less than fresh, I've been able to generously spritz, put in a bag, and then refrigerate for a couple hours and it comes back to life!
Did you know you can freeze your greens as well? When I haven't had the time to use them all and I'm getting more that week, I know I've always got my freezer. Unlike strawberries, tomatoes, or peppers, greens need a little more prep before freezing. A quick dip in boiling water, 2 minutes should do it, and then into some ice water to stop the cooking. I'll then lay out the partly cooked greens onto a parchment lined baking sheet and pop into the freezer. When they're completely frozen you can toss them all into a big ziploc for easier storage. Then when you want something extra in that soup you're making or a green touch to your smoothie, pull out your bag of frozen greens and you're good to go!
When it comes to herbs, whether from us or the store, I've found a couple different ways to keep them looking perky. For bunches of herbs like dill, parsley, chives, and cilantro, I like to wet a piece of cloth or paper towel and wrap the bunch. Then put the whole package inside a ziploc bag and seal. These will keep for many days in your fridge.
For basil however, the method is different. As a full summer herb, basil doesn't like being too cold. Maybe you've experienced this when a bunch of basil comes out of your fridge completely black! The way to avoid this is by putting your bunch in a glass or jar of water on your countertop. Refresh the water every couple of days and your basil should be happy!
If you do end up with wilty herbs, my favorite way to still use and enjoy them is to blend them up into a sauce or pesto. Simply toss whatever combo you have, herbs all tend to play well together, in a blender with some olive oil, lemon juice or vinegar, salt, pepper, and garlic and blend until very smooth. You can adjust the seasonings however you'd like, adding some ginger or spicy chili to change things up. Then drizzle this vibrantly green sauce over grilled vegetables, use as a salad dressing, or as a marinade for grilled meats.
And finally, seeing as you've been receiving greens every week so far this season, here's a great recipe that I made recently that uses up a lot of greens! https://homecookingcollective.com/kale-pasta-sauce-joshua-mcfaddens-recipe/
I made it with a combo of kale and chard and it was velvety and incredible, especially with grated parmesan on top! Freeze the extra sauce to pull out later in the summer when greens are taking a break.
I hope these storage tips have been helpful! Give them a try and let us know how they work. We always want our CSA members to get the most out of their shares so reach out with any more questions about storage and we'll do our best to answer!