Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Washing and Preparing Lettuces From the Garden

This may be something that many of you are familiar with, but I thought I'd post as preparing lettuce was a little tricky when I first started gardening.
Lily has been growing a variety of lettuces and spinach for our family to enjoy, as well as to sell.
Today, I gave her a little lesson on how to clean lettuce for eating.
This is my personal method...I am sure there are other ways, but this is really thorough.
And what is better than a fresh, organic salad?

We start by picking a large amount...I think today we filled 4 Ziploc bags.
{Ziploc bags and containers are BPA free.}
I sanitize my sink first, and then fill it with cold water.
Put all of the lettuce in the cold water and give it a good swish.

Let it sit about 30 minutes.
You will find a good amount of dirt has fallen to the bottom.
Then with the tap water running, I rinse each leaf...making sure the crevices don't hold dirt particles:).

I put all of the lettuce into a colander and then fill my sink with fresh cold water again.
Put all of the lettuce back in, give it a swish, and then let it sit for another 20 minutes or so.
If you find that there is no dirt at the bottom of the sink, you are ready to dry and spin the lettuce!
If there is still dirt...which I rarely see, then repeat rinsing.
Pile all of the lettuce onto clean dish cloths on the counter.

At this point, I get my salad spinner out.
If you don't have one, it is well worth the investment.
You can find them for around $20.
Using a paper towel or clean cloth, I pat each leaf mostly dry, then put it in the spinner.

After spinning, the lettuce is ready to bag or eat fresh!

*A little tip*
If you place a clean paper towel or napkin in with the lettuce, it will keep longer.
I have heard that is true for cucumbers, too.
 Just wrap each one individually and it will last longer.

We eat so many fresh salads in the summer. 
I love that I can step out my back door and pick from a variety of lettuces for a salad.
Lettuce is one of the easiest veges to grow!

Salads are a great way to incorporate all kinds of vegetables.
Sometimes I add peas, carrots, onion, and anything else that is in season.
Other days, we just add red onion slices and call it good.
I just started making the MOST delicious homemade Ranch dressing...oh my it is fantastic!
For the recipe, visit my friend, Anne Marie at Na Da Farm:).



Old Time Cindy said...

Have to agree...I love eating fresh 'salad' from the garden. When adding other fresh veggies, I don't even bother with any salad dressing. Just top it off with salt and pepper.

Bevy @ Treasured Up and Pondered said...

Yum! Me too. I love having fresh lettuce(s) and herbs (basil and parsley) in the flower bed right outside the kitchen door. So fun to have the kids go pick a handful or whatever...

We clean our lettuce pretty much the same way... although I'd say you're much more thorough. All good.

Lovely post. :)
Here is a "joke" you can throw at your hubby/family, next time you have a simple salad. Our family said this all the time.

"Hey, we're eating a 'honeymoon salad' tonight."

(here's the follow up punch line - you give after everyone looks at you confused.)

"Carrot all to lettuce alone - we're dressing." ;)

Enjoy your day!

Dawnmarie's Life said...

Thanks for the tips - especially the paper towel in the bag. I always struggle with lettuce. I haven't tried to grow any yet, I have a really small garden. What's a good variety to start with?


Hi Julia!
How funny, I wrote about lettuce in one of my last week posts!!
I love it, it is so so crisp and fresh!
I have a suggestion for you:
you can use some baking soda (I use 2 tablespoons in a sink like yours)when you put the salad into the sink for the first bath.You will be surprised of the amount of dirt it will take away!

Very useful to use when you're pregnant to avoid toxoplasmosis for example .

I will try that paper tip..very interesting! Thank you Julia!!


Laurel Stephens said...

Wonderful lettuce washing instructions. Don't you love passing down your kitchen wisdom to your children? I also just love the way you mixed-up your lettuces in your garden; the colors are so pretty. I'm going to copy you next year! : ) Thanks for sharing.

Valerie said...

Perfect timing for this post! I just prepared our first straight-from-our-garden salad last night!!! I probably wasn't as thorough as you with my cleaning, but I did wash/rinse thoroughly and used my salad spinner. How did I ever survive w/o that invention???!!!

I noticed your bed is overflowing with different varieties of lettuce. Would you mind sharing what you plant? As this was my first year to plant lettuce I just chose an organic bib lettuce...but it appears their are lots of choices.

Must check out Anne Marie's ranch dressing recipe. One can never have too much ranch!


Bonnie said...

Great tutorial. We are eating garden lettuce and it is amazing how gritty it can be. I love ranch dressing and I'm off to check out Anne Marie's recipe.

Michele said...

Looks yummy! Lettuce is one thing we have not tried to grow. Can you grow it in hot weather? It has been in the 90s here...thought it was more of a cool wetaher crop. We eat a lot of salads and would love to use our own lettuce if we can. Thanks, Julia!

Keeping It Cozy said...

Wow, look at your beautiful lettuce bed. I hope to plant some varieties next year! Your salad looks delicious and I'm not sure there is anything better than homemade ranch dressing... yum!

Gumbo Lily said...

We've been eating lots of garden lettuce salads here too. Nothing better than GREEN, fresh, lettuce!

My salad spinner broke last night so I used my old-fashioned salad spinner method. Put washed greens on a clean tea towel, fold in corners and take it outdoors. Swing it fast -- round and round -- and you'll see the water from the lettuce starts coming through the towel. It works in a pinch to dry lettuce.


Unknown said...

I use the paper towel in the bag too... but I didn't know anyone else did! I just stuck it in there to help soak up any excess water.
Great post!

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