Whether you’re returning from an overambitious trip to the supermarket or organizing an unruly haul from your CSA or farmers’ market, storing your seasonal bounty can be a challenge. Sturdy greens like kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, mustard greens and others can take up a lot of valuable real estate. You can store them in a fraction of the space — and prolong their life — by simply chilling them raw or cooked, or blanching and freezing them. Here’s how.
Chilling Raw Greens
If you plan to enjoy your greens soon, you can store them in the refrigerator, but, for best results, don’t just toss them into the crisper. Prep them first: Discard any rubber bands or wire fasteners holding your greens together, strip the greens from the stems (save the stems for sautés or stews) and tear large leaves into bite-size pieces.
Add the greens to a large bowl of cold water and swish them vigorously to loosen any dirt. Let them sit for a couple of minutes, allowing sediment to sink to the bottom of the bowl. Then, remove the greens to a colander, dump the water and repeat the process two or three more times.
Working in batches as needed, transfer to a salad spinner or colander to remove excess liquid, then set greens on clean, dry dish towels in a single layer. Roll up each dish towel lengthwise and squeeze to absorb excess liquid.
Transfer your clean, dry greens to a large resealable bag lined with a dish towel or two paper towels, and gently press the bag to remove excess air. Refrigerate for up to 10 days.
Chilling Cooked Greens
You can also clean your greens, cook them immediately and keep them in the refrigerator to bolster meals throughout the week. Sauté them with olive oil or butter over medium heat, seasoning with salt and pepper and perhaps some garlic or red-pepper flakes, until wilted, or simply steam or blanch, if preferred. They’ll keep refrigerated for a few days. Pull them out and reheat for a quick side dish on a busy weeknight.
Sturdy greens retain their texture after being blanched, frozen and reheated, so freezing is a great way to preserve them. Prep your greens the same way you would if using them fresh — stripping the leaves from the stems, tearing them into bite-size pieces and washing them — but instead of drying the greens, blanch them. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat and prepare a large bowl of ice water. Working in batches if necessary, toss handfuls of your greens into the boiling water, stir to cover and blanch until bright green and softened, 1 to 2 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer to the ice water to cool and repeat as needed. Drain, then tightly squeeze them by the fistful over the sink. Transfer to a bowl, drizzle with a little olive oil, season with salt and massage until coated and tenderized. Transfer to a lidded container — or resealable freezer bag, pressing out excess air — and freeze for up to two months.
You can sauté them straight from the freezer (no need to thaw) with some olive oil or butter until tender, or stir them into any number of soups, stews or curries. By freezing them, you can enjoy tender leafy greens in minutes, at a moment’s notice; a bounty, smartly stashed for a revitalizing taste of something green.