Greens are bursting with nutrition. Add greens to your everyday regimen for great health. If you are going to use greens often, do you know how to choose the freshest greens, store and prep them the right way? Read on to know more.
Our grandparents or parents used to take their time in choosing the best produce including greens. We often just rush through the supermarket and pickup a pre-packed bag of greens. However, we may be compromising on the quality. We need to relearn this art.
Choose fresh greens
The key to a great tasting green salad, juice or any other dish is the freshness of the produce used in them. Have you observed your naani, daadi, aunt or mom buy greens? They take their time, touch, smell and closely examine them before buying. So make sure to take your time, examine the greens closely to make sure there is no slime, withered bits, insects or insect eggs clinging on to the leaves. The leaves should look and smell fresh. The stalks of the greens should not be too hard. If they are not tender, they may be really sharp tasting (eg mustard leaves).
Buy seasonal and local
It is also important to buy seasonal and locally available greens as they will be fresher and less sprayed with pesticides. Nature has provided the best tasting produce for every season. Greens like lettuce taste best, are cheaper and more available in summer. Greens like radish leaves, mustard leaves etc taste better and are tenderer during the cooler seasons.
Buying local also means fewer food miles are involved and the produce is fresher and you know the source. Strike up a connection with your local bhajiwala to know how the greens are being grown and where they are coming from. Many localities also have weekly farmers’ market setup. Make it a habit to visit those, get to know the sellers and their source and get the benefit of choosing the best produce. You also get to help them with their livelihood!
Keep up the supply
Not many of us have the luxury of time to step out and buy fresh when supply is running low. You can also opt for a recurring home delivery option once you have built up the trust with a local vendor. Many options are available now for community supported agriculture (CSA) and you can opt to get a fresh box of seasonal produce including plenty of greens at your doorstep. This way you can ensure that you and your family are having greens every day.
How to store greens?
We may buy green in bulk either because they are cheap or for convenience. Sometimes we have some left over after using them in a recipe. Greens don’t have a great shelf life and are prone to lose their freshness quickly.
Save time by pre-washing your greens as an option. Soak them in water for few minutes to remove dirt. Spread them out on a clean cloth for air drying, maybe overnight or next to a warm window.
Wrap the greens in clean cotton cloth or paper towel.Store greens in an airtight container in therefrigerator to retain their freshness. If you have a lot, you can separate them into batches and store them in the fridge as packets. This especially works for aromatic herbs as you don’t want to keep taking them out frequently. Some herbs like celery, parsley and basil can be stored in a glass of water. Snip off their ends and put the stem ends in water near a warm window sill or at comfortable room temperature. They will stay for a couple of weeks this way.
How to prepare greens?
Examine the underside of leaves for insect eggs and discard such leaves.
Make sure you remove any grass or unknown leaves which have been inadvertently included.
If not already washed, wash the greens well by soaking in water for few minutes to remove any dirt clinging to the roots and leaves.
Chop them finely, shred them, tear them or cut up roughly. Each cut has a different taste. Have fun experimenting.
Add greens in chutneys, dips, salads, smoothie or drinks. These are great ways to have them raw.
Greens lose their nutrients if overcooked. If you want to cook them, steam them for a few minutes and add to your dish.
Make your own herb shelf - Save money on dry herbs by making your own. Buy fresh leaves of herb greens like mint, coriander, dill, curry leaves etc. Wash and dry them on a cloth or air dry them. Powder and store in a clean, air tight bottle. These have more flavor than store bought ones. Create a pretty looking shelf with small labelled bottles of your different herbs.
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