Maximizing the Farmers’ Market

Salad Spinner

Although I’m not much of a summer person, I do love all the farmers’ markets and road-side stands that pop up.  There’s not much better than that fresh-from-the-garden food that is only available to us in Minnesota for a limited time.  So while that time is here, let me introduce you to one of the most used tools in my kitchen, Sally the Salad Spinner.

Don’t let the name fool you, Ol’ Sal is a true multi-tasker.  For example, when you buy fresh greens, they need a really good bath.  If you put the greens inside the basket of the spinner and fill the whole thing with cold water, you can swish them around and get all the sand and goop (yes, that is the technical term!) off the leaves.  Give them a couple rinses and repeats and then just lift out the basket, dump the water, and spin away the excess moisture.  Perfection!

How great are fresh summer berries?  They’ll tell you not to wash berries until just before eating.  Pshaw.  As soon as I get home I give mine a bath.  The trick is you need to dry them completely before putting them away in the fridge.  I pop them in the spinner, swish ‘em around in the nice cold water, and then shake out the basket carefully to remove as much water as I can.  Then I put them on a baking sheet lined with paper towel and leave them on the counter.  Spread them all out into a single layer, shake occasionally to dry all sides, and store in a paper towel-lined container that is not tightly sealed.  Mine usually last a week to two weeks.  If I can keep the caboose out of them.

 A couple other tidbits of info:

  • You don’t need to buy expensive vegetable/fruit spray to wash them. In a spray bottle mix one part white vinegar to two parts water. Spray fruits or vegetables completely, let sit for about thirty seconds, and rinse well. And no, you will NOT taste vinegar! Also, if you use this to clean berries it will extend shelf life.
  • Freeze your extra berries after they’re washed and completely dried. Flash freeze in a single layer first on a baking sheet/plate. Once solid, bag and label them and store in the freezer.
  • Make sure you wash the outside of your melons before you cut them. Even if they’re organic, you never know what’s been crawling around them! Once your knife moves from exterior to interior, it’s too late.
  • Store greens in a paper towel inside a zip-top bag. If the towel gets damp, replace it. Squeeze out as much air as you can before putting away again in the fridge.
  • When you get celery home, wrap it in paper towel, then tightly in aluminum foil. It will keep for weeks like this in the fridge.

SaladAnd my favorite salad to spin up in Sally?  A couple of cups of spring greens, blueberries, strawberries, tiny sprinkle of feta, some pecans and Ken’s fat free raspberry pecan dressing.  Oh yes, summer is definitely here.  Enjoy!

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