How to Make the Freshest Salads - Ultimate Top Guide

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When shopping for salad ingredients look for fresh, crisp greens. Pass up any with withered leaves, brown or yellow edges, or slimy spots. Salad greens are highly perishable, so buy at a market that keeps them under refrigeration. With bagged greens, check the "sell by" date for optimum freshness.

Greens that come wrapped in cellophane should be stored in the wrapper, then cleaned when you're ready to use them. Otherwise, clean before storing, discarding any bruised, discolored, or wilted leaves. Proper cleaning of greens is as follows.

Iceberg lettuce: Hit stem end on counter; twist and lift out core. Rinse core end with running cold water, then invert head and let drain.

Leaf lettuce, Romaine, Boston, Bib, Curly Endive: Cut off bottom core and wash leaves under running cold water.

Spinach, watercress, arugula (and other greens with small leaves): Swish leaves around in a large bowl of cold water to remove any dirt or sand; let the debris settle in the bottom of the bowl and life out the greens carefully. Repeat until no debris collects in bowl. Break off and discard tough stems. Hydroponic greens and others sold attached to their roots keep best refrigerated, with the roots immersed in a glass of water or wrapped in damp paper towels and covered with a plastic bag.

Drying salad greens is an important aspect in keeping them tasty and fresh. Excess moisture dilutes the salad dressing if you're serving salad greens right away, and will speed deterioration if you're storing them. Place washed salad greens on a clean towel and gently pat dry. Or use a salad spinner. This is easier, quicker, and just as thorough.

To store your salad greens, wrap dry greens in a damp cloth towel or between layers of damp paper towels, and place in a plastic bag or in an airtight container in the refrigerator crisper.

To prepare for eating, tear delicate salad greens by hand (don't cut with a knife) to avoid bruising. Other greens are also best torn, but can be cut as long as you use a knife with a stainless steel blade (carbon steel can cause "rusty) discoloration and alter the flavor). Toss salad greens with dressing just before serving and use only enough to lightly coat the leaves of your salad greens.

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