How to Store Greens in a Small Living Space

Dear Home Ec 101,

I live in a small apartment and have a refrigerator with a limited amount of space and chest freezer. We have been trying to utilize local produce from our CSA and the Farmer’s Market, but storage is an issue with space at such a premium. What is the best way to store leafy greens without giving up all of my refrigerator space or destroying the cell structure.
Thanks!
Crucifarean in Crumpler

Heather says:

Fall and winter are great for cruciferous vegetables, which are high in nutrition, but they do have a tendency to take up prime storage space. For the most part the best way to store your leafy greens and brussels sprouts is by blanching and then freezing your greens. Now you do need to keep in mind that blanching will keep your greens from becoming a soupy, disgusting mess, but their texture will change a bit.

Dark green vegetables contain an enzyme that breaks down the cell structure, even when the vegetables have been frozen. Freezing also damages the cell structure, but much less significantly. Freezing greens, including cabbage, isn’t a complicated process, but it does require a little bit of choreography. Before getting started you’ll need to gather:

  • a large pot
  • a large bowl
  • a colander that can fit in said, large bowl
  • zippered or vacuum* freezer bags
  • a permanent marker
  • water
  • lots of ice

*You’re also going to need a vacuum sealer if you go this route. Yes, sometimes I do have to state the obvious

Clear any young kids out of the kitchen or secure them somewhere safe. There’s too much boiling water and carrying to worry about tripping. You can let them explore all the things when you’re done. Safety first.

Place a large pot on your stove and fill it about 2/3rds of the way with water. Bring the water to a boil. While the water is heating, wash your greens, remove the woody stems and less than pristine leaves, and chop the greens into consumable size. Fill your large bowl with ice water and set it nearby. Set the colander in the sink and get ready.

Blanch your greens.

Blanch? Yep, add them to the boiling water. Yes, but for how long? Check the table below:

Beet 2 Minutes
Brussels Sprouts (small) 3 Minutes
Brussels Sprouts (medium) 4 Minutes
Brussels Sprouts (large) 5 Minutes
Chard 2 Minutes
Collard 3 Minutes
Kale 2 Minutes
Mustard 2 Minutes
Spinach 2 Minutes
Turnip 2 Minutes

Immediately drain the greens in the colander and as soon as they have drained place the bowl of ice water in the sink and plunge the colander directly into the ice water. You may want to add more ice at this time. Cool the greens for the same length of time they were blanched.

Once the appropriat time has elapsed, drain the greens. If you have a salad spinner, awesome, use it. If not, use paper towels* or flour sack style towels. just spread the greens across, loosely close the towel and gently shake. DO NOT SQUEEZE YOUR GREENS, you went to all this trouble to preserve the cell structure, don’t squash them now.

As soon as most of the extra moisture has been removed package the greens in freezer storage bags.

Label and freeze promptly. Your greens will remain in peak condition for 12 months in a deep freeze but are edible indefinitely. Remember freezer burn is safe, just unappetizing.

Enjoy! Now or later. Frozen greens are a fantastic addition to soups, stews, and one pot meals. If you have finicky people in your life, start by adding spinach, it’s the least bitter of the greens and slowly work your way up to the more peppery varieties. There will likely be some wailing and gnashing of teeth, but less than if you went all kale smoothie on them from out of nowhere. (I still distrust the kale smoothie, types, sorry, they aren’t that awesome and I actually love greens.)

Submit your questions to helpme@home-ec101.com.

*Lint free, the greens provide enough fiber, thank you very much

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Comments

  1. Stacy says

    Thanks for sharing this. I don’t use many greens out here in CA, but I’d like to use them more. I didn’t know you could blanche and freeze them.

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