Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sunday Savings Tip: Resurrecting Wilted Produce!!

My goal for this year, instead of dieting, was to get both myself AND the whole family eating better-- more fruits and veggies, more whole grains, less processed junk! I've had a pretty decent success with it-- but it means buying a LOT more produce than I'm used to. It can also be a little bit more expensive (why do fresh, high quality foods cost more than junk?) and watching your money shrivel, dry up or droop all over your fridge is frustrating.

This week really we overloaded on the produce as we had our first delivery from our CSA co-op. I opted for a larger box, every other week to start with, and I found myself trying to stuff : 1 honeydew melon, 1 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes, 3 fuji apples, 4 peaches, 1 pint blueberries, 4 sweet peppers, 2 lbs of baby bok choy, 1 bunch of carrots (with 18" long tops attached!), 2 stalks of broccoli, 1 bunch of spinach and 2 hearts of romaine-- all into the fridge. This was of course on top of the other stuff I had bought last week that hadn't gotten eaten up yet.

I did manage to get it all in BUT some of the veggies got a little buried on the back shelf. I noticed yesterday that both the romaine & spinach were looking much worse for the wear. This is not necessarily anything new-- its easy to forget about fresh produce if its hidden at the back or down in a drawer. 

Many years ago, I saw a tip on how to resurrect limp celery. You make a fresh cut at the base and stand it up in cup or pitcher of cold (or even icy) water. This will get the water back into the tissues of the plant,  restoring the water and crispness.

I decided to give that technique a try with the romaine first as it wasn't too badly off, just a few droopy leaves on the outside of the head. I cut the base of the romaine heart off and dropped the whole head into a large pitcher of icy water (filled about 6 inches high. I just left it alone for an hour or so and when I checked it-- voila-- perky lettuce greens!!

Now for the big challenge-- the bunch of spinach I had was SEVERLY limp-- not slimy though (this technique will NEVER save those kinds of veggies!). Most people's feelings upon seeing this bunch of spinach would have been to take it straight to the bin. I used the same set up as the romaine, cut about 1" off the bottom of the spinach stems and plopped them into the pitcher-- overnight this time (Not for any particular reason except I was tired and wanted to go to bed!).

When I got up this morning, I was greeted by a very nicely restored bunch of spinach!! Not all the leaves were crisped up but I would say about 90%. Much better than throwing the whole thing out!

This technique can also be used for other stemmy veggies like asparagus. I even remember a cooking show that recommended keeping the asparagus in a cup/vase of water inside the fridge.

Leave a comment below and let me know if this technique was helpful to you-- what veggies were you able to save?

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