Storage and Preparation:
All types of greens should be stored,
unwashed, in a perforated vegetable bag in the vegetable drawer of the
refrigerator, away from any fruit. Tender delicate-leaved greens should
be eaten soon after picking or purchasing, two to three days at most.
Hardier lettuces will keep up to two weeks, discarding any leaves that
have begun to wilt or decay. Changing the bag from time to time will
increase the life of the remaining greens.
All greens - except those that are pre-washed and packaged - need to be
washed and dried before preparing. Some experts suggest washing with
lukewarm water rather than cold, claiming that it loosens the dirt and
grit more completely than cold, but does tend to wilt the leaves a bit.
However, if the washed greens vegetables are dried - preferably spun in
a salad dryer - wrapped in paper towels or a kitchen towel, placed in a
plastic bag, and refrigerated for an hour or two they will crisp up
again beautifully. If the lettuces must be served right after washing,
I suggest using the coldest water available, even adding a few ice
cubes to the water if you like.
The greens vegetables can also be washed, spun dry, and stored in a
closed plastic bag for up to two days. Leaf lettuce can easily be
separated from stem by twisting off the base. The simplest method of
coring head lettuces and other heading greens is to hold the head in
your hands, stem down, and rap the stem sharply on the counter or other
hard surface. This will loosen the core, allowing you to twist it out
completely. Iceberg lettuce can be rinsed by holding the cored hole
under the faucet, spreading the leaves slightly. Drain by shaking the
head well and then turning the cored side down in a colander.
Very large leaves with heavy stems should be stemmed and cut or torn
into bite-size pieces. If you like the added crunch, cut the crisp
stems into 1-inch lengths and toss with the leaves. Small tender leaves
can be left whole or torn into pieces before tossing with dressing.
Some experts say that types of greens should always be hand torn and
never cut with a knife. I have prepared tubs of salad for huge dinners
and have used very sharp stainless-steel knives to stem and cut the
leaves without any evil effect, so I have some difficulty with this
philosophy. However, I suggest you use whichever method you prefer.