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From Barbara's Kitchen Buying and keeping greens fresh requires a little extra work in the kitchen

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Posted: Friday, September 28, 2012 7:31 am

Dear Barbara: I know that people buy their greens (lettuces) and the greens stay nice all week, some even said two weeks. I’ve tried putting them in the fridge in water, like a bouquet, with plastic over the top and also tried the same thing only I punched holes in the bag so the condensation could escape. As a last resort, I tried putting the greens in a large plastic container, layered with paper towels. To my disappointment, they didn’t last any longer than doing nothing. Do you have anything else I could try? — Rachel from Lodi

Dear Rachel: That sounds really frustrating!

It could be that the greens weren’t as fresh as they should be when you bought them. Also, the back of the refrigerator shelves are colder than the front. The greens do not do well in the back.

I did come across something I had never heard of, but it sounds like many people use this method.

Ask your produce person when the greens come in. If they are fresh, take them home and put them in a sink full of cold water. Swish them around, letting them sit in the water for a few minutes then carefully take them out of the sink and put them on a clean kitchen towel. The dirt should sink to the bottom of the water. Put the greens in a salad spinner to remove most of the water. Lay the lettuce in a single layer on a clean, lint free kitchen towel and let it air dry for about two hours. You may then roll the towel up with the lettuce in it and put it in a refrigerator drawer. When you are ready to use it, unroll the towel, exposing only what you want to use.

I felt it had some value and will try it the next time I buy greens. Actually, most of the people I spoke to said they were going to try the method to see if it really worked. If it didn’t work, why would so many people be using it?

Dear Barbara: You mentioned ground, dried mushrooms a while back. It sounded like such a good idea, since fresh mushrooms would go bad before I could use them. Could you refresh my memory as to how you would do that? — Kimberly from Galt

Dear Kimberly: Simply buy dried mushrooms at your supermarket and grind them to a powder. Be sure you use a grinder meant only for spices. Do not use a coffee grinder. You could mix the types of mushrooms or stay with your favorites. Because they are ground, the flavors will intensify to a wonderful earthy, meaty fragrance. There is an endless list of what you could use it for. Soups and stews for sure, or add more variety of spices to it and use it as a dry rub for steaks, etc.

Ground, dried mushrooms have been used in Italian kitchens for decades.  It is a “must try” for anyone with an interest in cooking.

Barbara Spitzer is a Lodi home cook who also develops recipes for specific consumer products. Do you have a cooking question? Send it to Barbara Spitzer at bdspitzer@comcast.net. Please include your first name and city.

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