Do you wash pre-washed bagged lettuces before preparing salads? Well, you should. I recently read a news that some of food poisoning started from pre-washed bagged lettuces. Scary!
Well, I always wash all vegetables and fruits in warm water. Actually, the word on the streets of Tokyo is that scalding hot water at 50°C (122°F) is best, according to some well-established Japanese chefs. I was skeptical, because cold water rinse was the norm while growing up helping my mother in the kitchen (to be more accurate, I was sampling food as she cooked ^_^). You’d think that fragile leafy greens will be damaged in such almost-too-hot-to-touch water.
Lo and be hold! 50°C (122°F) water will not only clean the produce well, but also bring out the flavors. It’s an extra step to rinse them before storing in the fridge, but the benefit is clearly visible, and it saves a little money (because they stay fresh longer). Oh, they taste better, too!
Cilantro, for example, goes bad so quickly if kept in the fridge without rinsing and sorting bad ones.
After rinsing in a tub of 50°C (122°F) water for about 15-20 seconds, shake off the excess moisture and get rid of the wilted/damaged ones. I repeat if the water turns really dirty. Then separate the smaller ones for the immediate use, wrap the rest in a sheet of clean paper towel and put into a zipped plastic bags with little air as possible (but without crashing them inside). Storing this way, cilantro will last for up to two weeks (result may vary).
The same can be done for lettuces, dandelions, parsley, kale, and other leafy greens. My lettuces from the community garden stays fresh for more than two weeks in the fridge. Even the limp ones from grocery store can be revived to be crisp again in a warm water soak!
Summer’s not quite over yet. Let’s keep eating crisp veggies, shall we?