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Clean Pantry

Your Questions About Storing Leafy Greens, Answered

Why are leafy greens so persnickety? We answer all your FAQs about storing everything from spinach to chard.

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Is it better to buy my leafy greens in pre-packaged plastic or unwrapped on the produce shelf?

The UK waste reduction nonprofit the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) conducted a study on the effects of packaging in food waste and found little evidence to prove plastic increased produce longevity. 

 “While packaging is important and often carries out a critical role to protect food, we have proven that plastic packaging doesn’t necessarily prolong the life of uncut fresh produce,” said WRAP CEO Marcus Gover, reported by The Guardian

So, no. It’s not been proven that one way or the other is better. Though to reduce plastic, opt for bringing your own reusable produce bags.

What kind of leafy greens will last the longest if stored properly?

Most types of cabbage can stay fresh for about two months. 

Will my greens lose nutritional value the longer they are stored?

While this topic is up for debate, a 2017 study published in ScienceDirect found that mature spinach lost about 80 percent of its vitamin C content after three days of storage. This can be compared to another leafy green, such as watercress, which maintained nearly 60 percent of its vitamin content over the course of 10 days. The study also noted that arugula stored at a similar timeframe hardly lost any nutritional value at all. 

However, study authors say this should not be of great concern and recommend buying greens when you plan to eat them and do so in a timely manner so they’re at their freshest and most delicious. 

Will I actually get sick if I eat greens past their expiration date?

Yes. Leafy greens can have the potential to carry E. coli, so it’s strongly recommended you pay heed to the expiration date on any pre-packaged produce. If your greens don’t have an expiration date, look for a collection of slime, yellowed leaves and mold. If they smell bitter or have a foul odor, toss them. 

What is blanching and do I have to do it to freeze my leafy greens?

Blanching is the process of boiling produce in salt water to preserve the quality of it before freezing for an extended period of time. Blanching helps destroy bacteria that causes food to spoil.

While it’s certainly possible to freeze leafy greens without blanching, they will only keep for a few weeks before starting to deteriorate.