The vegetables and fruit are harvested early in the day from the fields and greenhouses and brought in to be chilled, rinsed and packed. Maintaining the cold chain is important for keeping the produce fresh. Once you pick up your CSA share, getting the share home and produce prepped and refrigerated is key to its longevity. If your greens have gone a bit limp before getting to prep them, trim the ends and let the greens soak in a bowl or sink of very cold water. They will perk right back up.
Planning a little prep time and having a process when you get home with your share can make this quick and easy. Have your refrigerator organized so you have space to store the produce.
Unpack your share and deal with the greens first. Greens have the shortest shelf life, especially if not prepped that night and they take up the most amount of space when they are raw.
Fill a bowl with cold water in your sink to rinse the greens and change out the water as needed. Lay all the greens out. Separate the leaves on head lettuce, rinse and put through the salad spinner. Broccoli raab, tatsoi, boc choi and arugula, cut into pieces, rinse and spin. For kale, collards and swiss chard, strip the leaves off the stems, rinse and spin dry. If you choose to use the chard stems, clean them and store them refrigerated in a glass of water. Greens like the cold and they also like some moisture. Once spun dry, wrapping them in a paper towel then place in a plastic bag or lining a storage container with a paper towel will keep them crunchy. Depending on how long the greens are being stored, the paper towel may need to be replaced.
Herbs do well when stored in a similar manner or in a glass filled with water with a storage bag tented over the glass. Keep the glass in the refrigerator door. This keepts the herbs chilled but not too cold. Basil is the exception, it does not like the cold of the refrigerator. Store basil in a glass on the windowsill and use soon. Herbs should be used or preserved week to week whether they are dried, chopped and frozen in olive oil or made into a compound butter and frozen.
If you are going away and still have greens to use or you want to stock your freezer, blanche and freeze your greens! Boil a large pot of water. Have a bowl of very cold water in your sink and have you salad spinner and some freezer bags ready. Drop your prepped green in the pot of boiling water. Once the water returns to a boil, time 2 minutes for most greens, 3 minutes for collards. When time is up scoop the greens out, plunge in the ice water to cool down. Once cool, spin them to remove the excess water and pack into freezer bags, remove any air pockets and freeze. Lettuce is the only green this does not work well with.
What greens to use first?
With proper storage many greens will last the week. The most tender greens such as lettuce, arugula and spinach should be used first. Follow that by broccoli rabe, tatsoi, boc choi, and swiss chard. The most robust greens being spigariello and kale will store the longest when prepped properly.
Luckily the most tender greens are fantastic for quick weeknight cooking. Lettuce for salads cold or warm. Arugula mixed in salads, grain or noodle bowls, frittatas, and for topping flat breads with lots of garlic, cheese and veggies. Spinach goes with everything! Boc choi and tatsoi are tasty in a quick stir fry which can then work its way into a noodle or grain bowl at any time during the week. Broccoli rabe sauteed with onions and garlic then simmered in tomato sauce is tasty!
The investment in prep time will leave you with fresh greens to use all week.