Preserving Your Greens

By ERIN TURNER

I screamed “No!” and then stomped around, throwing a fit!  It happened despite every effort to avoid it.  My lettuce went bad before I got a chance to use it up.  Is there anything more frustrating?

We grow and sell greens from our farm and I tell customers to put the greens into a Ziploc bag with a paper towel to store them.  This works well…for a while, but then the inevitable happens before you know it and you end up with a bag full of stinky, blackish-green slime.

Sometimes, I’ll chop lettuce up for salads or tacos and have some leftover.  It seems once the lettuce has been cut then its shelf life is non-existent.  So, I try to be very vigilant about how much I shred up so I’m not left with wilted, decomposing greens in the next day or two.  But it happens and it makes me mad!

This handy dandy attachment for my food sealer iskey.

While checking out some canning recipes, I read about a new method of preserving lettuce and it intrigued me.  It uses Mason jars, a food sealer and a special attachment for the sealer.  Since we do a lot of our own food preservation, we have a nice food sealer and somewhere along the line I had acquired the special attachment as well but had never used it.

So, after losing my lettuce to decomposition, I decided to try out the new method.   I chopped all my lettuce into thick shreds.  This way it can be used for either salads or tacos.  I filled Mason jars with the lettuce (it’s okay to gently push it down to add more).   Each jar roughly held one head of lettuce.

Once they were filled, I put on the lid (not the ring) and then pushed on the special cap attachment.  Once this cap was on the jar, I pulled out the air tube on my food sealer and pushed the button.  What the machine proceeded to do was pull the air out of the jar and seal it.  Once it’s been sealed, then you can add the ring to the jar.

Now, this method is not replacing a hot water bath so you can’t use it to do actual canning.  Anything you seal using this method still needs refrigeration or to be frozen.  But by sealing it and sucking out all the air, you extend the life of the food you are preserving.

Ready to EatSalad!

So, now I have 4 jars of ready-to-eat lettuce.  The woman who wrote the original article about this method would actually make salads using lettuce and various other veggies, put it all in the jars and seal them.  Then she would take one out each day to take to work for lunch.  What a terrific idea!  Because honestly, the thought of stopping to prepare a lettuce salad at lunch time is a huge deterrent, I prefer something already made and ready to eat (like leftovers).  But the salad concept has me rethinking my lunch plans.

Now, as I explained, I already owned a food sealer and the special attachment so there were no additional costs for me.  I did check out prices at Ace TruValue Hardware and they had the lid sealer attachment for $9.99.  So, if you have a food sealer you might want to invest in the attachment.

This idea of preserving lettuce will save me from throwing tantrums plus it will save me money by extending the life of the lettuce longer so I have a better chance at using it before it turns into a smelly, slimy mess.   I’m excited about the endless possibilities of having fresh lettuce, all ready for me to use at just a twist of the lid!

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Erin’s got tons of tips for saving money, couponing, sticking to a budget, and living sustainably in her blog archive.

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Erin Eisenman-Turner is proud to be a native Missoulian. Along with her husband and three sons, they raise chickens, pigs, rabbits, and vegetables at Turner Family Farms in the Orchard Homes area. When the farm chores are done, the coupons clipped, and the blog written, you can find Erin exploring Montana, collecting antiques, and trying to maintain a well-run, happy, and organized home for her family.

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