What I Learned Today About Preparing Salads
Everyday I learn something new about cooking or cooking ingredients from my cookbooks, cooking magazines or on the Internet. I thought it would be fun to start sharing some of these tips and facts with you more frequently.
For example, in the April 2018 edition of Food Network Magazine, they discuss salads including dressings, lettuce types and how to keep those greens from getting "slimy". And did you know Americans eat about "25 pounds of lettuce every year"?
Creamy or Straight Vinaigrette?
After asking their Food Network fans what type of salad dressing they put on their salads, the results were a "toss-up." It was a 50 - 50 split between a straight vinaigrette and creamy.
Good to know, but I would like to know how many people they sampled, how many choices they gave them or was it fill in the blank. For me, I love creamy dressings like Ranch and Blue Cheese but my cardiologist prefers I stick to the straight vinaigrette and less is more.
Supermarkets Gone Wild
Have you noticed how many different types of lettuce supermarkets are now selling? When I was a kid, all you could buy was iceberg and maybe some romaine. Now you can find arugula, also known as rocket; butter lettuce; red leaf; green leaf; frisee; chicories, escarole, radicchio and the list goes on and on.
And how about all the options they give you when deciding what to buy? Pre-mixed blends, pre-washed, triple washed, pre-cut, organic, not organic. You have more choices buying lettuce than you do options on a new car.
What Exactly Is Triple Washed?
According to Food Network Magazine, triple washed greens are washed and rinsed three times before packaging to "remove dirt, pesticides and bugs." And they also say they are safe to eat right out of the packaging.
You will pay up for triple washed but if you are looking to save time, it could be worth it. How much will you pay up? According to the article, a "22 ounce bag of whole unwashed romaine hearts is about $4.00 ..... prewashed romaine leaves cost about the same for just seven ounces. O.K., maybe I'll go back to washing my own lettuces.
So here's my question: how did they determine three times washing is the magic number? At home when I buy unwashed greens, I only give them a bath once in the salad spinner and they seem fine to me. What if I washed them twice? Is that still not good enough?
I'm sure they must have done studies or maybe it is just to cover their butts but triple washed sure sounds good when I buy a bag. Now I'm wondering if they taste better when you know they are triple clean.
I learned Iceberg and Romaine lettuce can last 7 to 10 if stored properly. These are the heartiest of the lettuces so they have the best shelf life. Red Leaf can go 5 to 7 days while Bibb, Butter or Boston lettuce lasts just 3 to 5 days.
The best way to store lettuce and keep it from getting slimy is to wash it, dry it with a salad spinner or paper towels, wrap it is some more paper towels but dampened and then store in a "loosely closed plastic bag", whatever that means. Place this bag in the crisper drawer on the highest humidity settings.
I didn't even know you could adjust the humidity setting and come on, that's a lot of paper towels they are suggesting to use. I skip the paper towels and my lettuce holds up just fine but I'm just sharing what I'm learning.
And what about when you are ready to use the lettuce and you find a bad, slimy looking leaf? Should you throw out the entire bag? No, just toss the funky one and any leaves that may have touched it.
And who knew you should not store lettuce next to apples or any other "ethylene" producing fruits? They speed up the rotting process.
So that's what I learned about salads and lettuces today.