Introduction: Saving Wilted Greens

Revive, save, and ENJOY your wilted greens in several easy steps. 

Whether your greens are from the local farmers market, your garden, or a supermarket, they will all wilt eventually. Since most greens, and especially varieties like lettuces and spinach are largely comprised of water, they wilt easily when exposed to dry conditions. 

Have you ever had one of those hectic weeks were you end up eating out way more than you originally planned when you shopped at the local farmer's market the previous weekend? Those beautiful crisp leafy greens that you purchased never take well to prolonged fridge exposure and consequently usually end up in the trash or hopefully the compost. I have grown tired of seeing my sad limp greens end up on the top of the compost pile, and so I've set out on finding the perfect method for reviving limp, wilted, and otherwise sad greens. 

Here it is in this Instructable, just for you (and a little bit for the countless heads of lettuce, kale, and other leafy greens). 

NOTE: This method works for wilted greens. This will NOT revive greens that have gone rotten or are "slimy". 

Step 1: Materials

You'll need to gather the following things to bring those greens back to life:
  • Wilted Greens in Need of Saving
  • Salad Spinner
  • Kitchen Knife
*Optional Ingredients for Step 3:
  • Lemon: (can substitute Apple Cider Vinegar) can help revive lettuce but it is not necessary.
  • Ice: Can help lower the temperature of water. 

Step 2: Remove the Ends

With your kitchen knife, remove the ends of your greens. Cutting off the dead ends of your leafy greens will reopen the capillaries of the plant and allow it to take up more water into its lifeless leaves. 

Step 3: Water

Fill your bowl with cold water. You want to fill it close to all the way since you'll be submerging all of your lettuce in the bath. 

OPTIONAL ICE: Add several ice cubes to your water bath. This will continue to drop the temperature of your water bath and help your leafy green to become crispier and more rigid as it is revived.

OPTIONAL ACID: If you'd like to add lemon or vinegar for extra crispness, add it now. I'd recommend the juice from half of a lemon or a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. I also tend to throw a couple lemon slices in, but it's mostly just for asthetics. Don't worry, you'll be rinsing your lettuce later, which will wash off most of the acid flavor. If you want to avoid any acid flavor, do NOT add lemon or vinegar, your lettuce will crisp without it. 

Step 4: Submerge

Submerge your leafy greens. Let your leaves sit in their icy bath for up to an hour or until they have crisped to your liking. I usually let them sit in the water bath for roughly 30 minutes. The more wilted your greens are, the longer they will need to soak. Cover with a lid, so that critters or other things don't get in.

Lettuce, like most of our produce is comprised of mostly water. When it's wilted, it is dehydrated. When you submerge it into the water bath, the dehydrated lettuce cells will absorb water into it's cells to try to equalize and balance the concentrations inside and outside the lettuce. As the lettuce cells take on more water, they will become more turgid and rigid, giving the lettuce it's original study and crisp shape.

Step 5: Drain and Dry

Remove any lemon slices you may have added.

Rinse and drain your leafy greens and add them to your salad spinner. Spin until your greens are dry.

A tip for spinners out there, you do NOT want to overload your salad spinner. If you have a particularly large head of lettuce or happen to be crisping a large quantity of greens, you'll want to break it into batches for this spinning step. If you overload the spinner, your greens will clump, sticking together, and will not get rid of all of the water and moisture.  You can also dry your leafy greens with a dish towel.

If you added either lemon or vinegar, you'll want to give you leafy greens a little extra rinse to get rid of the acid taste. 

Step 6: Enjoy!

Your leafy greens should now be crisp and full of water as though you had just picked them from your own garden. Once they are dry you can chop them up and enjoy in your favorite salad, on top of your sandwich or burger, or in your favorite salad/greens recipe! Or use this method to store them and keep them fresh longer.

Moving forward: try this technique on other vegetables that have gone limp in your refrigerator. It should work on all of your leafy greens, as well as carrots and other root vegetables.  Root vegetables may take a little longer in the water bath than your leafy greens.