Keeping salad greens from browning?

John__ShowMe__USA(5/6)August 31, 2007

My healthy eating 'campaign' has been really working for me for the last year or two. Getting a lot more fruit and veggies into my diet. Many days a large salad is my only meal. I buy the lettuce, red cabbage and shredded carrot mix at Sam's and is dirt cheap. All natural, hydro-washed and ready to eat. Only problem is that after a day or two in my cold fridge the lettuce starts to brown. Is there anything that I can do to slow this down or stop it?

Just before I eat it I put in zip lock bag, add several spoons of EVO and shake it up. Then add red wine vinegar for flavor. Cukes, tomatoes, onion slices and fresh ground black pepper. A friend suggests feta or blue cheese would be good addition. And some kefir grains for digestive aid and flavor.

It's a 40 mile round trip so really want to solve this brown lettuce.


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jimster(z7a MA)

If I'm not mistaken, it is primarily the iceberg lettuce that browns and only on the cut edges. Maybe look for a mix which doesn't contain iceberg. Maybe one which has romaine instead (not sure if that browns). Or, buy iceberg in head form, tear some up to add to the non-iceberg mix each time you prepare it.

Another possibility, rinse the salad mix in a solution of sodium sulfite before storing it. I believe this has been done with some salad bars.


    Bookmark   August 31, 2007 at 3:10PM
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dgkritch(Z8 OR)

You probably already know or don't wanna hear this, but "unprocessed" lettuce will keep a lot longer.

I love the convenience of the pre-prepped stuff too and the "convenience isn't all that expensive........till I throw half away. :+(

Sorry, not a lot of help.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2007 at 6:55PM
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A bit of browning won't hurt you, but it isn't appealing. If you are eating a lot of salads, it really would be cheaper to buy a mixed variety of head lettuces and they keep better too. A bit of work when you first bring them home will make them easier to use.

Take head lettuces, slice a thin strip off the "stem" the way you slice a bit off the stems of roses before putting them into water. Put the lettuces in a sink or bowl of water and leave them for a couple of hours. This plumps them up so they will not wilt as fast.

When you remove them from the water, place them upside down in your dish drainer for 20 minutes or so and then put them into clean plastic bags with a couple of paper towels to absorb any residual water...when you put them in the fridge, the paper towels should be underneath the lettuces.

Then you can pull off leaves from the different heads, tear them into pieces and wash them, spinning them in a salad spinner before eating to remove excess water.

If you don't have a salad spinner, you can place the leaves in a pillow case and whirl them around your head outdoors for much the same purpose, but salad spinners are cheap.

You can make your own mix of pre-washed, torn salad greens to last you a few days by following these steps and storing the resulting mix in plastic bags or containers with a paper towel on the bottom, but untorn, properly hydrated lettuces keep longer and really, tearing a few leaves and spinning them hardly takes much time or effort if that's your main "cooking" for the meal.

By the way, what the heck is EVO? :D

    Bookmark   September 1, 2007 at 5:05AM
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Yes, it's the iceburg lettuce that browns. I'm cutting way back on sodium so won't use the sulfite. If the browning won't hurt me then I guess will just put up with it. A bag that is enough for a week (if it would only keep that long) is like $2.50 and I'm going to keep buying it.

EVO has always puzzled me. How can it be extra virgin olive oil?

Well, thanks anyways.


    Bookmark   September 1, 2007 at 9:00AM
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I'm through with store-bought salad mixes. That last recall (a couple days ago) for e coli finally convinced me. Heads of lettuce & cabbage, with onions and carrots is all I need anyways. I think that I bought a bad (don't ask) package last week.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2007 at 3:33PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

My fridge stores the salad greens quite well. Dole makes big 3 pound bags and I cant use all of them for about 5-7 days. Even by then I usually only see a very slight amount of browning, and only on the cut edges as mentioned above. On TV, there is a recent ad that mentions a plastic bag (a bit expensive) that allows the gasses to escape but holds in the moisture for most vegetables. I forget the name, but a woman has been the spokesperson who was advertising these bags. I use a small device in my fridge that emits ozone, which helps to reduce mold and spoilage of most things. It uses 4 D sized batteries and these usually last several months before needing replacement. Its replaced the many boxes of baking soda which don't seem to do much anyway.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ozonator

    Bookmark   September 20, 2007 at 4:07PM
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bejay9_10(zone 9/10)

In the restaurant business, they sometimes use a product that is an anti-rust preparation. I never liked to use it, as it works for the rust, but does little for the crispness or taste. You can't beat freshness tho and best to dump it at that stage anyway.

One thing I've learned, is to pick a head of lettuce that is not too hard - this usually means too long in the field and won't hold up well once picked. A slightly loose head is much better.

Another helpful tool is the plastic knife with a serrated edge. For some reason cutting lettuce with metal, can predispose to rusting. Of course, hand breaking is best for only a few salads, but if one has 100's, that can lead to "lettuce wrist carpal tunnel syndrome." LOL.

For home use, I like to wash the head when I buy it, then drop into a stainless/plastic pan that can cover with water. Then chill in the fridge. This seems to keep better for me, when making salads for several days, and using the above measures for preparing.

Just my 2 c's.


    Bookmark   September 21, 2007 at 11:24AM
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For the olive oil question:

Retail grades in IOOC member nations

As IOOC standards are complex, the labels in stores (except in the U.S.) clearly show an oil's grade:

* Extra-virgin olive oil comes from the first pressing of the olives, contains no more than 0.8% acidity, and is judged to have a superior taste. There can be no refined oil in extra-virgin olive oil.
* Virgin olive oil has an acidity less than 2%, and judged to have a good taste. There can be no refined oil in virgin olive oil.
* Pure olive oil. Oils labeled as Pure olive oil or Olive oil are usually a blend of refined olive oil and one of the above two categories of virgin olive oil.
* Olive oil is a blend of virgin oil and refined oil, containing no more than 1.5% acidity. It commonly lacks a strong flavor.
* Olive-pomace oil is a blend of refined pomace olive oil and possibly some virgin oil. It is fit for consumption, but it may not be called olive oil. Olive-pomace oil is rarely found in a grocery store; it is often used for certain kinds of cooking in restaurants.
* Lampante oil is olive oil not used for consumption; lampante comes from olive oil's ancient use as fuel in oil-burning lamps. Lampante oil is mostly used in the industrial market.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2007 at 11:19AM
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kathy_in_washington(Zone 8 Sequim,WA)

We have one of those large canisters made by Tilia Foodsaver and when I'm "really doing salads" (which we should do more often) I combine all of our lettuces, bell peppers, cucumbers, grated carrots, etc., in one of those and seal it. Admittedly, it takes up a large, tall space in our refrigerator, but it keeps everything very, very fresh for almost a week. If you have a Foodsaver and you haven't tried your canister this way, please give it a shot.

I'd like to comment on lettuces, though: Iceberg has virtually no redeeming value (other than calorie-less crunch) and some people have difficulties digesting it. If you want to purchase large amounts of greens (like from Costco or similar places) they sell bags of Organic Mixed Salad Greens at a fantastic price. They are so much better for us nutritionally that I hate to think of you or anyone eating solely pale iceberg lettuce, especially since you're trying to take care of your health.

The bags that Ken was referring to are Debbie Meyer Green Bags. I haven't tried them, but they make sense to me. You can read more about it at the website. I see that some are being sold on eBay, as well.

Here is a link that might be useful: Debbie Meyer's Green Bags

    Bookmark   September 22, 2007 at 11:50PM
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Thanks for the EVO info, rachelellen. Now I'm glad that it is all I ever bought.

If I can find the bags locally will give a try.

Here is what gets me. It's all the handling by who knows who before the nicely packaged greens get to my house. Organic and prewashed. Sounds great if only still thought was safe... now I don't. If I soaked and refrigerated in vinegar would that help? (I like vinegar and sour) Is there a good way to wash a large bag of mixed greens? I use Fit on fruit and veggies that I buy except for those prewashed baby carrots. Starting to change my mind about those too.


    Bookmark   September 23, 2007 at 8:37AM
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vinegar is used as a preservative. it kills bacteria and molds etc. Since you will be adding vinegar anyway, why not put the vinegar onto the lettuce early in the bag. I bet it will help keep the lettuce fresh.

I buy lettuce heads.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2007 at 10:23AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

vinegar will break down most tender vegetables very quickly.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2007 at 11:44AM
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daria(Z5A ME)

I buy the package of 3 romaine heads, and gently squeeze to make sure I'm getting an extra-firm, extra heavy package, which means more eating lettuce for my cash lettuce! I wash and slice each head into 1.5 inch chunks, removing the stem end and any brown leaves, wash and spin them (I highly recommend the Oxo salad spinner, it's a huge time saver), then put them in a big rubbermaid container. I add the rest of the salad veggies (tomatoes, cucumbers, onions usually), and we eat that salad for a week or so, if it lasts that long. If it gets to day 7 it might be a bit brown, but still edible. It just makes life SO much easier for me to have a ready-to-eat salad in the fridge. There's always a handy veggie to eat with dinner!

    Bookmark   September 24, 2007 at 11:36AM
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No salad for 7 days makes one weak. I shouldn't have any trouble finding that salad spinner locally. I want to go back to buying the already cut, mixed and bagged salad mixes so badly and if I can find a way to be sure the e coli is washed away will do so. That recent Dole recall was the last straw for me. There is just no way to scrub each little piece.

Here is a link that might be useful: OXO spinner

    Bookmark   September 24, 2007 at 12:48PM
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