Soft, slimy herbs and soggy lettuce - be gone! Here are Bella's top tips to help you avoid wastage.
If you’ve ever bought a bunch of soft herbs, it’s likely you’ve felt the pain of watching them go slimy and rotten in the bottom of the fridge. Sad. Dead. Completely unusable. Salad leaves fall victim to the same curse. They become limp. Floppy. Inedible.
Here are my top 3, fail-safe methods to avoid wastage and help you make the best use of your herbs and lettuce.
1. Grow Your Own
The best idea, of course is to grow your own and pick as you need. For those with some sunny space in the front or backyards, you’ve got it made! And for those who haven’t quite burst into the housing market (Sydney, can you please be a bit cheaper?!?) an apartment window sill with a sunny outlook will do the trick for some basic herbs.
Basil, chives, rosemary, thyme, oregano, parsley, sage and tarragon and even a mini bay leaf tree can grow well on your window sill. For those city dwellers with a skyscraper blocking the light, there are low-light tolerant herbs such as mint and chervil which can work well too.
It’s also a great way to add some colour and natural feel into your home! Try some interesting varietals such as purple sage or a flowering variety of garlic chives.
Hang It Out To Dry
Bay, dill, marjoram, oregano, rosemary and thyme all dry very well, so if you have some leftovers why not dry them out? Simply tie upside down with some string for about 2 weeks. Once dry, keep them in labeled airtight containers.
Store Them Properly in the Fridge
Many people place herbs in a glass of water, but the truth is that it does very little. Herbs and salad leaves are better revived by absorbing moisture through the leaves, not the stems.
As soon as you buy herbs or salad leaves and bring them home, remove them from their plastic packaging. Fill a sink or large bowl with very cold water and give them a good soak for 5 or 10 minutes, then remove and shake dry. Next, wrap them in a few layers of moistened (but not dripping wet) paper towel, and then pop the whole thing into a plastic bag (preferably zip lock).
This micro environment manages the moisture in 2 ways. Firstly, excess water will be absorbed by the paper towel and not allowed to pool – which causes rot and sliminess. Secondly, it will retain enough moisture for the herbs to absorb as they need it, ensuring they don’t become limp and floppy.
For the ultimate in crisp lettuce you cant go past a last minute ice bath. This technique is commonly used in Chinese restaurants when preparing ultra crispy iceberg cups when making sang choi bao. By submerging the leaves in icy water for just a few minutes you will get extra crispy and fresh tasting leaves, just don’t forget to give them a good spin in a salad spinner before use.