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Well hello, there foragers! How is week 2 treating you? If you are anything like me, you now have an icebox stuffed to the brim with green goodness. While that is extremely gratifying…now you are racing the clock. Leafy greens go bad faster than perhaps any other vegetable, plus they are notoriously difficult to preserve. There is nothing more disheartening than successfully identifying and harvesting your forageable then opening the fridge to discover that your greens are slimy and wilted and resemble a goopy forest of algae. Gross!
Despite being relatively hardy in the wild, many of the greens we have foraged for in week 2 are predisposed to a short shelf life, which kind of blows. Hence the reason Day 13 of our 28-Day Comprehensive Guide for the Modern Pioneer is NOT a plant at all, but a few rather resourceful preservation techniques.
Stop the vicious cycle of one day having a fridge full of happy green goodness and the next a pale of slime. Check out our 3 tips to preserve your leafy greens!
3 Tips to Preserve your Leafy Greens
- Remove and brown or wilted spots. If you do not, you risk spreading the “bad” parts. The presence of ethylene will cause the entire batch to turn faster.
- Keep them whole!
- After washing your greens in cold water, be sure to thoroughly dry your greens. My preferred method for drying is a simple salad spinner. This may seem like an unnecessary kitchen utensil, but really it is a way to SAVE loads of cash by extending your harvest.
Box It Up – The Fresh Method
If you like crisp perfect greens for a salad, this may be the method for you.
Line a large Tupperware container with paper towels and put a layer of greens down. Then, add another layer of paper towels. Continue this process until the container is completely filled. Remember forcing the greens in the container by overfilling, is a bad idea. It is better to allow plenty of room so that the greens can “breathe.” This method should keep your foraged greens crisp for a minimum of 7-10 days. Much longer than the 3-5 days the supermarkets prescribes.
Blanche Them- The Frozen Method
Extend your harvest and keep greens in your diet year round by properly freezing them.
Boil a pot of water. When the water is at a full rolling boil use tongs to drop the greens into the pot. Do not add salt or oil. Blanche the greens for 30 seconds. Use a timer or watch to ensure that you do not overcook. Immediately transfer the leafy greens, using tongs to a bowl of icy cold water. This will prevent overcooking and aid in maintaining their deep green hue.
You should allow them to sit for roughly 2 to 3 minutes. Add ice, if the water begins to lower in temperature. the idea is to shock them! Yowza
Next, using a colander to strain all water from the greens. Delicately squeeze out as much of the water as possible with your hands to remove excess moisture. THIS IS IMPERATIVE to the process.
You know when you get greens at the store from the frozen food section and they are covered with ice? Yeah, that is because someone got lazy and didn’t remove all of the moisture, causing the quality to degradate. So, be sure to delicately remove all of the water.
And then, you need to tightly store the greens. Roll them into a ball (similar to rolling clay or snow into a ball) Portion the greens into several balls. By separating into balls you are making meal sized portions. Got to love being proactive to save yourself time and energy later!
Place all of your balls onto a sheet pan and TIGHTLY wrap with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 1 to 3 hours.
Once the balls are partially frozen you can transfer them from the sheet pan to a heavy duty Ziploc bag and return the freezer.
They should keep in the freezer for at least a year!
Chips- The Dried Method
Vegetable chips and green chips are the preservation method that is sweeping the nation. We see them everywhere Kale Chips, Veggie Chips, and Taro Chips are on every shelf from Whole Foods to your local grocer. Some smart individual somewhere caught on to the health benefits and the long shelf life provided by drying your greens properly. Want to do it yourself at home and save your harvest and bucks? Check out our simple how to recipe below!
Amount of Greens: Med. Size Bunch
2 tsp olive oil
seasoning of choice
Preheat your oven to 300F.
Wash and dry your greens in the initial steps we went over in in the beginning.
Remove any stems and rip the leaves into bite sized pieces.
Place the bite sized greens in a large bowl and gently massage the oil into the leafy greens.
Arrange the green pieces on a sheet pan
Sprinkle any seasonings that you may want (salt, pepper, chili flake)
Place the sheet pan in the oven and cook for 10-15 minutes. Check the final 5-7 minutes to be sure that there is no browning.
After you are finished baking allow to cool for 3-5 minutes. This will encourage your greens to acquire that crispy goodness.
This method is best for hardy greens such as kale, collards, and sweet cicely. It works for fine tender leafy greens as well, just not in the same manner. If you choose a delicate green you will have to adjust the timing of your drying process to accomodate.
The Green Sterotype
Greens are the dazzling wonders of nature that begin to first appear when spring is approaching. There is nothing more dreary than day after restless day of waiting for the arrival of the new season and all of the color that it brings with it.
This is simply a stereotype that has been drilled into us by the mass media. After going through an ENTIRE week of leafy greens that begin their germination and sprouting process in late winter to early spring, I believe it is self-evident that nature continues to thrive despite the seasons!
Begin your foraging harvest early this year and mush on through the possibly dreadful cold. Hidden treasures abound for the early bird, you know! Then you can apply any or all of the preservation techniques that we learned today to extend your harvest!
Did you learn something new or have a preservation technique of your own to share? I would love to hear from you! Please let us know by sharing your own experiences in the comments below or shoot us an e-mail @ theendsoftheearthblog.com
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