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How do the pros wash and dry salad greens?

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There has to be a trick to it. When I go out to a nice restaurant if I get a salad the greens are never bruised and never damp. But when I make our salads at home (wash by swishing in a bowl of water, dry in the salad spinner and then pat with a paper towel) I either leave the lettuce a little damp (in which case the water dilutes the flavor) or pat the leaves aggressively with towels, which always bruises the leaves.

How do they do it?

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  1. according to my SO (works at parc), the greens are washed at the beginning of the day with the rest of the prep work and then placed in the fridge. i guess they dry out naturally.

    here at home, we usually enjoy our salad damp. :)

    1. I'm not sure, but I would think that many places are using triple washed salad greens that don't need further washing (like baby spinach and mesclun). My trick for super clean and dry leaves is to wash and dry as you do, and then carefully wrap the leaves (no patting) in paper towels, place into a large ziploc, and use as needed. The extra time in the fridge seems to allow the greens to dry out a bit. Don't zip the bag all the way so evaporation can occur. Hope this helps!

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      1. re: rebeccafriedman

        i do it the exact same way, but i let the towel-wrapped leaves sit out on the counter for an hour or so before bagging & refrigerating. works like a charm. and yes, definitely leave the bag open - i prefer the very flimsy baggies to heavier zipper bags - they allow the greens to breathe.

        oh, and re: the triple-washed bagged products, i don't even want to *think* about the potential that they serve that stuff straight from the package. it still needs to be rinsed - haven't you ever noticed the chemical smell when you open the bag?

      2. In the years before bagged salad was a section in the produce area I worked for East Side Marios(early-mid 90s). Prep used to use a lettuce guillotine type thing, lettuce was then washed in the sink (with MSG <!!>) then put through an industrial sized lettuce dryer then held in the fridge.

        1. I can't tell you how the pros do it - the other posters have offered some solutions - but I can tell you what works for me at home, and my salad greens are always dry and never bruised.

          For tender greens like leaf lettuces or mesclun mixes, after washing by dunking in a bowl or sink of water, as many times as necessary to remove the dirt, I spin the greens a few times in the salad spinner - don't overload the spinner - and then lay out the greens in a single layer on a cotton towel. Roll up the greens very loosely - tight rolling or patting dry with a towel is what causes bruising - and lay the roll gently on a shelf in the fridge. Tender greens should be washed just before you use them - maybe an hour or two ahead, no more. No need for plastic wrap, the towel will absorb excess moisture. Just handle them gently throughout the process.

          Tougher greens like roamine can be washed, drained in a colander, and laid out in a single layer on a towel - cotton or a long length of paper towel - rolled loosely and stored in a plastic bag, loosely sealed. I reuse the plastic bags that I put produce in at the market. The towel absorbs the moisture, as long as the greens are washed at least an hour or more before you need them; I usually will wash in the AM for salad needed in the PM. Romaine washed and stored like this keeps for at least two weeks, no bruising and not damp.