Sunday, 7 July 2013

Kitchen tip 01-- Crispy Salads

Don't know if you're enjoying the fine weather we are at the moment, in one of the brief periods of summery weather we enjoy in Britain, if you are you might thinking of salad for supper instead of labouring over a frying pan. Ah yes but -- that lettuce you picked up from the supermarket, they got kind of limp and droopy when you had to leave 'em in the car to queue for those items you forgot to put in your shopping trolley when you did the rounds in the supermarket, either that or they were already in a pretty sorry state when you picked 'em up. You might have noticed that modern supermarkets keep the vegetables cooled on the shelf with air conditioning ducts, unfortunately this technique of cooling the vegetables to keep them fresh doesn't do too much for their condition and they can become limp an unappealing even while they're still on the shelves, this is especially a problem with leafy items like cabbage and lettuce. No need to worry though there's a tip that will restore them.

This technique works best if you buy your lettuce or cabbage the day before you intend to use it but it's probably possible to get good results on the same day if you give it enough time, it's just that I've never tried it. There are a couple of caveats: it will only work on vegetables that are reasonably fresh, the technique involves rehydrating the leaves (yes I know they seem soggy but they've actually dehydrated) if their not sufficiently fresh it wont work because the cell membranes with have broken down, so don't try it on that week old cabbage. The next caveat concerns hygiene, you're rehydrating the leaves, so you must take steps to ensure that water you use is safe to consume, this is especially important with uncooked vegetables. So be scrupulous in ensuring the utensils you use are clean as well.


Step one: wash your vegetables thoroughly then give them an extra rinse.

Step two: now steep them in clean water for a couple hours, preferably cool water in cool conditions. You can change the water periodically if you wish.

Step three: remove your vegetables from the water and place them in a closed but unsealed bag, do not remove excess water from your vegetables.

Step four: place the bag with the vegetables in your fridge and leave there overnight.

That's it -- all you need to do now is open your fridge the next morning to retrieve your vegetables, that are now crisper than those packets of Golden Wonder that always to seem to materialise behind you, just as you've settled into your seat in the cinema. Don't ask me how it works, I haven't the faintest idea beyond it's obvious that the leaves are being rehydrated but I'm not sure why it shouldn't be apparent immediately you remove them from the water. Obviously if you leave 'em in the fridge for too long they'll probably go all droopy again, so it's probably best to consume them within 24 hours. Incidental it's also worth doing this with cabbage if it's a bit droopy and you intend to cook it, it improves the texture a lot. I only cook green cabbage myself and that does tend to suffer from droop more than the white stuff but you could try it with that too.


  1. Isn't it simply the case that the water partially freezes overnight in the fridge, making the lettuce leaves seem all crispy? Anything left overnight in the fridge tends to come out slightly stiffer. (So you need never buy Viagra again.)

  2. Dunno, water is at it densest at around 38 degrees, while it's still in a liquid state, fridges are normally 37-40 degrees, what you can infer from that is uncertain, Have you tried it yet? it would be interesting to note if it worked with soft water.

  3. I've never heard of this before. It seems the opposite of what you would expect! I guess I'm lucky I have been able to grow my own this year - I think I'll find it very difficult to go back to shop bought salads & veg. And yes - this weather at the moment is sublime - I wish I could bottle it and keep it!

    1. Yeah, I know it seems odd seeing as the fridge normally makes em even more droopy. I will say that you do notice the veggies swell a little once they've been in the water, well quite a lot actually. I -think- the trick is to not leave them too long in the fridge after you've soaked them. One of the things I've noticed is that people spend a lot of effort drying their lettuce to avoid that soggy texture when they'd probably find this technique more effective. Nothing beats, home grown though, there's a world of difference between fresh garden produce and the shop bought, that people who haven't had the benefit of their own garden are often not aware of. I