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How to wash kale, collards, chard, and other greens

Some kitchen workers must not know how to wash kale or other greens. All too often when I eat out, I bite down on unexpected grittiness in the greens. Yet it's easy to get greens clean if you use a wash tub and a little patience. Save time and water by choosing easy-to-clean greens.

washing beet greens in a tub

What Greens are Easiest to Wash?

Pick flat greens without curls and frills to hide dirt. The beet greens shown above are flat. Other good choices include collard greens, chard, spinach, dinosaur kale, and red Russian kale. Curly kale as shown below and curly mustard greens may take an extra rinse, but are worth if if you can't find a good flat alternative.

washing kale that is curly in a tub

How Can You Wash Greens without Wasting Water?

  1. Put a wash tub, big bowl, or big pot in your sink. Choose a white or light-colored container if you can. Add the greens and fill it with enough water so the greens float. Swish them around a big, then let them rest for three or four minutes. This lets the sand and dirt float to the bottom.
  2. If you have greens with tough stems but leaves that are tender enough to tear, then tear the stems away and give them a little rinse under running water.  Put them on your cutting board to chop.
  3. Lift the greens gently out of the water so you don't stir up any dirt at the bottom of the tub. Notice the amount of dirt that is left behind. If you are conserving water, use this water for your plants or other greywater purposes. Otherwise, pour it down the drain.
  4. Put greens back in the tub and rinse again. When you lift the greens out of the water and see very little or no dirt, you are done. Flat greens usually take two rinses and curly greens usually take three. Don't skimp, though. Grit takes the fun out of eating greens.

What about Washing Greens Right in the Sink?

You can certainly do that if your sink is very clean, including the drain stopper and area around the drain. Be especially careful if you've had raw meat, chicken, or eggs in your sink. I prefer a tub because it is:

  • Faster because I don't have to scrub the sink
  • Easier to see dirt in a white tub than in a stainless steel sink
  • Easier to get the water out to my garden

What about Homemade Vegetable Spray?

If you will be serving raw greens to someone who is old or who has a compromised immune system, you might want to spray the greens with a homemade vegetable spray. Get the recipe in my book Wildly Affordable Organic.

Reader Comments (1)

Thanks for these tips and reminding people to use greywater. I love conserving waster.

Jun 30, 2017 | Registered Commenterwearyma
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