Store Salad Greens for Later Use
By Anne Hart Lieb, Ohio — Storing salad greens has been an issue for many gardeners, because green leafy vegetables normally do not respond well to canning, drying, or freezing.
Follow these easy, inexpensive instructions to turn your salad greens into “green flakes” and enjoy them all fall and spring. In the freezer, they will keep for a year or more. If using the dehydration method (at bottom of this article), these green flakes will keep for seven months, possibly longer.
Green flakes can be added to any recipes such as soups, stews, pizzas, sautée-recipes, meat loaves, spreads, or dips. Below are just a couple of the many recipes that use green flakes.
Step #1: Pick any combination of salad greens (lettuce, spinach, kale, parsley, cilantro, basil, etc.). Wash garden greens in clean water, then drain thoroughly. A salad spinner, available for under $5 at many discount stores, is an effective way to drain the maximum amount of water from the washed salad greens.
Step #2: If you have a freezer, continue following these steps. Otherwise, follow the instructions at the end for using the drying method. Place the salad greens into large plastic bags, and put them into the freezer for a day or until very frozen and “crispy.” At first, they will take up lots of space. But don’t worry, most of this space will be returned to your freezer in the next step.
Step #3: Do not allow any of the greens to thaw! This is very, very important, because allowing them to thaw will cause the greens to stick together into a solid block, and possibly even become slimy. For this reason, you will need to handle only one bag at a time for this step. Thus, remove one bag of frozen salad greens from the freezer and quickly massage the bag to crumble the greens into thousands of small flakes. When finished, let some air out of the bag (to reduce volume), and quickly place back into the freezer. Do this with each bag, separately and individually, to prevent any thawing of the greens.
Congratulations, you have just created long-term storage for your garden salad greens!
And now for the best part, using your green flakes. Follow these simple, delicious, and super-nutritious recipes below.
Sautéed Greens, Onions, Mushrooms
Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive or coconut oil in a skillet on medium-high.
• 1/2 cup diced onion, stir and sauté for 1 or 2 minutes
• 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
• 1 to 3 cups of salad flakes
• Salt and pepper to taste
Sprinkle with nutritional yeast flakes for a cheesy flavor. Add any other diced vegetables that might taste good sautéed. Stir and flip for 2 to 4 minutes, until the desired doneness is achieved.
Serve immediately. Makes 2 large or 4 small servings.
Pizza (Regular, Gluten-free, or Vegan)
Pizza can be made from scratch, started with a “brown-n-serve” crust, or added to a completely made frozen pizza. Sprinkle the salad flakes on top of the pizza as one of the added toppings. Then bake as directed in recipe or on package.
Following are instructions for long-term storage of salad greens if no freezer is available.
Drying Method #1
After washing, dry the salad greens either with an electric food dryer or using a shallow wooden box covered with a screen (bug protection) outdoors, preferably in a sunny area. Lay the greens one layer thick, being careful not to overlap, which could cause non-uniform dehydration. Dry thoroughly, until greens are very crispy. If using an electric dryer, be very careful not to burn them.
Drying Method #2
Place the dried greens in a large plastic bag and massage the bag until the greens are broken up into flakes. Store on pantry shelf or in refrigerator for up to seven months.
Don’t Toss Vegetable Leftovers!
If you have small portions of leftover raw veggies and/or fruit that aren’t quite enough to feed the family, shred them into a bowl and add a little mayonnaise and vinegar to make a quick and inexpensive coleslaw-type salad side dish.