Look in your fridge. Do you have a bag of soggy, leafy greens tucked somewhere in the produce bin? This happens to me too. Often.
To make longer-lasting bagged salads and greens, a Reddit thread suggests opening the package as soon as you can and mixing the salad around. That allows you to “pick out any bits hidden in the middle that might be starting to go bad.”
The Redditor also says that opening the bag releases any buildup of ethylene gas, which is released by some fruits and vegetables and causes them to ripen quickly.
Is this a brilliant hack… or an unnecessary step?
What Causes Good Greens To Go Bad
Unlike what the post suggests, leafy greens aren’t a major source of ethylene. But they are sensitive to produce that emits the gas. That’s why you should store greens and salads away from bananas, apples, tomatoes, and avocados, which can cause them to wilt more quickly.
As far as opening the container of greens right away, nutritionists suggest waiting until you’re ready to eat them.“Leafy greens, like all fresh produce, are a living, breathing product,” explains Emily Moyer of the International Fresh Produce Association and Institute of Food Technologists.
They take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide just like people do. This respiration causes the greens to break down, which can lead to spoiling. Manufacturers have created smarter packaging to help extend the shelf life of greens.
“For that reason, I wouldn’t recommend opening bagged greens until you’re ready to eat them,” Moyer says. Not only would that cancel out the benefits of the packaging, but it could expose the greens to bacteria or mold that is naturally present in the environment. Once you’ve opened the bag, Moyer suggests squeezing out any extra air and then securing it with a clip for storage, in order to keep some of the oxygen out.
4 Ways To Keep Your Greens Fresh for Longer
Too much moisture is what causes leafy greens to turn soft and rot. Here are four ways to keep moisture at a minimum:
- Buy only fresh greens. If you can easily see rotten and slimy pieces, choose another bag.
- If you repackage, use an airtight container and line it with a paper towel to collect excess moisture. “A container will also protect the greens from getting bumped and bruised from other heavy fruits rolling around in your crisper drawer,” says registered dietitian nutritionist Nichole Dandrea-Russert, MS, RDN. “If you happen to own a salad spinner, take the greens for a spin before storing them in the container.
- Store leafy greens in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator, set to high humidity. You may want to keep greens closer to the front to avoid frozen lettuce, Moyer suggests.
- Don’t wash your pre-washed greens. “Some consumers may choose to wash their bagged greens,” says Moyer. “This is not recommended for bagged salads and can actually decrease shelf life if excess water remains on the product.”