How to: Storing vegetables, leafy greens edition

Unlike most children, I was really good at eating my vegetables. My mom likes to tell me of the time when I was about six or seven that I ate several bowls of green beans at a restaurant instead of the actual dinner. As an adult, I still eat vegetables and include a healthy serving in each meal as a main part of my diet.

As with fruits, sometimes I never know where to store my third-favorite food group (behind cheese and peanut butter, which, yes, are their own food groups in my book). It’s no longer a guessing game; science is on my side for my veggi-fied “Where do I store some produce I just bought” guide.

With so many vegetables, today, I’m going to just focus on leafy greens.

  • Bok choy: Also called Chinese cabbage, store in a plastic bag and use within four to five days.
  • Broccolini: Keep this item in a tightly sealed plastic bag.
  • Broccoli rabe: See Rapini.
  • Brussels sprouts: Keep all parts of the sprout intact, storing in a bowl or other container without a lid. The outer leaves will shrivel and wilt — just remove these to expose the inner, protected portions.
  • Cabbage: Keep three words in mind: Wrapped, crisper, refrigerate. Keeping only a portion of a cabbage? Just make sure it’s wrapped tightly.
  • Celery: Take your pick of two methods. Wrap the stalks in dry paper towels and store in a plastic bag (perforated or not is okay). Or, you could wrap it in foil.
  • Collard greens: Do not wash until ready to use. The greens will keep in the refrigerator for four to five days. Or, store them in the freezer by washing thoroughly and cutting off any stems, blanching, draining moisture and keeping in freezer containers. For best quality, eat before 10–12 months.
  • Dandelion greens: Rinse before wrapping in a damp paper towel and a plastic bag. The greens will last for one week in the refrigerator if the towel is kept moist.
  • Dill: Fresh dill should be kept in the refrigerator wrapped in a damp paper towel, or with its stems placed in a container of water. Use quickly, as it only keeps fresh for about two days. Dill seeds, on the other hand, can stay in a tightly-sealed glass container in a cool, dark and dry place. This will stay fresh for about six months.
  • Endive: The Belgian variety of the endive can become bitter when exposed to light. Keep curly and escarole (other variations of the endive) tightly wrapped in the refrigerator for up to three days.
  • Kale: Find the coldest part of the refrigerator (usually the area nearest the freezer compartment) and store in a plastic bag for up to five days.
  • Lettuce: This veggie is a bit more labor-intensive than the others, but it’s worth it. Fill the sink with cold water and submerge the leaves. After, spin them in a salad dryer (or on a dish towel), and then put it in a bottom fridge drawer.
  • Mustard greens: Store in a tightly-sealed plastic bag and wrapped in dry paper towels. Put in the crisper and store for up to week. Remember: don’t wash until you’re ready to use them.
  • Napa cabbage: See Cabbage.
  • Radicchio: Refrigerated and sealed in a plastic bag. It’ll keep fresh for about a week.
  • Rapini/broccoli rabe:  Keep in a loosely closed plastic bag in the crisper for up to a week.
  • Spinach: Do not wash prior to storage — wrap loosely in a paper towel and store loosely in a plastic bag. Keeping it loose will help with ventilation and circulation. Refrigerate below 40°F. If freezing, blanch the spinach first before placing in a freezer container/bag. Store for up to two months.
  • Watercress: Recently named the powerhouse vegetable, keep in a jar of water and place in the refrigerator. Make sure to also cover loosely with a perforated bag. Kept this way, the veggie will last for a few days.

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