Here are my steps to thinning and preparing mesclun so it doesn’t WILT in your refrigerator. In fact you can use this method after you clean any greens in ANY STAGE from microgreens to full grown lettuce and greens from the garden or store bought.
The MOST IMPORTANT THING if you are growing any greens is to PICK THEM FIRST THING IN THE MORNING when they are fresh-not the heat of the day, OTHERWISE THEY WILL BE WILTED NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO (are you listening Lava?). During this first stage of mesclun, it is a little more labor intensive. (After the leaves grow more, you will just cut off the tops above the crowns so they can grow back and there will not be much dirt since you are not pulling these out by the roots.)
Here is the mesclun in my salad bowl I made. Notice they are very cramped with not much dirt showing. I need to thin these out so the leaves can get bigger without overcrowding.
Thin out the mesclun. The goal here is to have some dirt showing to give the remaining leaves some room to grow.
Now the mesclun (first thinnings) are like microgreens and are ready to clean. Notice the roots are still on them. You can cut them off or eat them if you rinse well. Here I’m leaving them on. Of course you could just feed them to the chickens or throw them out but I don’t like to waste them plus they are yummy! You would pay big bucks for just a tiny bit of microgreens in the stores.
Here is the mesclun at the first rinse. I first clean my sinks out with bleach so I know they are clean. I suppose you could use big bowls to rinse instead. I filled my sink with COLD WATER from the faucet. Notice the leaves float on top while the dirt mostly sinks to the bottom. From here I gently scoop out the leaves trying to leave the dirt on the bottom of the sink or bowl and transfer them to the other side of the sink full of water for the second rinsing. By the way, rinsing this way is way easier than using a colander. It works really well for spinach too. This way removes the dirt that can stay in a colander.
Second rinse-Notice most of the dirt is gone at the bottom of the sink after I have removed the leaves.
At this stage I do one hand rinse in case their is more dirt trapped on the roots. Then I put them into…
The last rinse- notice the dirt is gone. Rinse more if you still have dirt.
Since I grow the lettuce bowl inside, I use seed starting mix and you need to look out for the perlite that is in it as it can float in the water instead of sinking like the dirt-so be on the lookout for it. Just scoop them off the surface of the water before you do each rinse. It would be a little too crunchy in my salad!
Now the leaves are ready for the spinner. Just don’t pack it too full as the leaves are very delicate. Spin it in small batches and..
gently place it in a loose plastic bag (not ziploc) lined with a dry paper towel. Then this next trick is very important. I learned it from reading Dorie Greenspan’s book, Around My French Table where you…
squeeze the bag so there is only a small opening and blow into the bag with your breath. This will fill the bag with carbon dioxide (which we expel) and then blow it up till it is full and..
tie off with a twistie tie so the air doesn’t escape and put into your refrigerator. YOUR GREENS WILL STAY FRESH FOR ABOUT A WEEK. Be sure you blow into it each time you get some greens out before putting it back into the refrigerator again. This takes up a little more room in your refrigerator but is worth it. No more homegrown wilted greens! Pretty cool trick, huh?!
- Create your own lettuce/mesclun bowl! (giantveggiegardener.com)
- Time to plant spinach and lettuce (giantveggiegardener.com)