Farm-Fresh Greens all Winter Long

With all these greens coming in, preserving will ensure a steady supply throughout the winter.
There's nothing like walking outside at Better Farm to pick beautiful, leafy greens for salads, smoothies, main dishes, and delicious sides. We're big consumers of kale, Swiss chard, lettuce, arugula, mustard greens, and spinach—and we're awfully spoiled by all the fresh, organic produce we've got from April through November. So, we're hesitant to give that up during winter months. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to ensure a steady supply of super greens throughout November, December, and beyond. Below are some simple methods for keeping a cache of greens suitable for stir fries, smoothies, soups, casseroles, and much much more.

FREEZING: Kale, Spinach, Collard Greens, and Swiss Chard
If you like using any of these super greens in soups, smoothies, casseroles, or stir fries, the good news is that they're extremely easy to blanch and store in the freezer. This is by far the best method for preserving your dark, leafy greens. Here's all you have to do:
  1. Thoroughly clean the greens.
  2. Chop into small pieces. Remove stems and stalks.
  3. Toss into boiling water, leave for three minutes.
  4. Immediately drain the greens and toss into a bowl of ice water. Leave for three minutes.
  5. Drain again and pat dry or use salad spinner.
  6. Put greens into freezer bags. Remove air by using a drinking straw with most of the bag sealed.
If you're a fan of, say, sprinkling seaweed flakes over rice, you might enjoy dehydrated greens. We find they lose some flavor this way, but it can't hurt to add a nutritional boost to any dish you're preparing. All you have to do (information found at Doris and Jilly Cook): Steam your greens just until they’re wilted. Transfer them to dehydrator trays and dry at a low temperature (say, 110ºF) just until they’re crispy (approximately two hours). Cut them up and add to a spice jar. This is a particularly great technique if you have family members who are loathe to eat greens and you're looking for a way to sneak health food into their meals. The flakes can even be ground into powder to make them completely imperceptible.

A Few Lines About Lettuce
Lettuce is basically impossible to freeze, but is extremely easy to grow all winter long indoors with a fish tank and grow light. Click here for more information on aquaponics. If you've got a good stream of lettuce growing, follow these tips from Pinch My Salt to keep your harvested lettuce crispy for up to two weeks:
  1. Fill a sink with cold water, separate all the leaves of lettuce, place them in the water and swirl them around. If the lettuce is a bit limp, let it soak in the water for 30 minutes and it will miraculously come back to life.
  2. Drain the water, turn on the faucet, and briefly rinse each piece of lettuce as you remove it from sink and place in the basket of your salad spinner. If you use organic lettuce, just give each piece a quick once-over to check for clinging bugs and dirt. As you put the lettuce in the spinner, you can tear the leaves in half if they are large (such as full-size romaine).
  3. When the spinner is full but not tightly packed, spin the lettuce until dry.
  4. Spread two paper towels (still connected) on the counter and pile the dry lettuce in the middle. Wrap the paper towels around the lettuce and slide into a gallon-size zippered plastic bag. Squeeze the air out and close the bag.
  5. The lettuce can now be stored in the fridge and should stay fresh for at least a couple of weeks. You can take out what you need whenever you want to make a salad or sandwich and then just reseal the bag. The plastic bags can also be reused!

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.