Prepping spring greens like spinach, lettuce and scallions makes them easy to use for my family. Asian spinach straight from the garden, sits in my refrigerator, unwashed. It just sits there. My husband won’t grab it and toss it into scrambled eggs. My son won’t grab it and toss some into his stir-fry. I will think twice before using it for a quick lunch salad. It still needs prepping. It needs to be rinsed and chopped before it’s ready for easy use.
I used to leave heads of lettuce and spinach unwashed, but I’m starting to see the benefits of prepping in advance. I’ve taken to washing and chopping greens and storing them in glass jars or big plastic bins in the refrigerator, ready to use. Washed and drained and stored nicely, all ready to go. Prepped produce is convenient, ready to toss into a stir-fry, eggs, salad. Ready to be eaten.
Sometimes a lettuce goes limp in a bag, but it is keeping fresh and crisp in jars. It’s changing the way we eat. Grab a jar of chopped lettuce and add dressing. Toss some chopped tatsoi or nappa into a stir-fry or scrambled eggs. Ready to go.
The convenience of prepped vegetables in the store is all the rage. You can still reap the benefits with your homegrown or locally purchased produce, without the extra packaging and cost. Once chopped, produce does start to lose nutrition more quickly; however, if it also gets eaten in your house more quickly, the benefits are reaped.
Some of my favorite jar greens: Bok choi, nappa cabbage, tatsoi, lettuce, scallions: all prep well. Chop them in advance (they often fit into the jar better this way), or just break into individual leaves, clean and ready for chopping. Half gallon wide mouth canning jars are really useful. Consider using smaller jars to create jar salads, combined and ready to go for a quick lunch.
Bok choi can be washed and broken apart into edible spoons. The crunchy white scoop makes the perfect spoon for hummus or a rice filling. Or chop the bok choi, ready to toss into stir-fries. Small jars of chopped scallions and garlic scapes are ready too, adding zest to every dish.
Storing in jars is particularly helpful in early season, when the spring greens are bountiful. I wouldn’t prep a zucchini or cucumber unless they are being pickled in a jar of brine. They won’t keep well in a canning jar. Their skins keep them fresh and are so easy to chop as needed. It’s mainly the washing job that nobody in my house wants to do. Prepping that task jump starts the whole “use it” game.
Ilene White Freedman operates House in the Woods organic CSA farm with her husband, Phil, in Frederick, Maryland. The Freedmans are 2013 MOTHER EARTH NEWS Homesteaders of the Year. Ilene blogs about making things from scratch, putting up the harvest, gardening and farm life on the farm’s Facebook Page. For more about House in the Woods Farm, go to the House in the Woods website, and read all of Ilene’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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