Keep it Green! - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 05-18-2019   #1
 
Grand Junction, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1994
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Keep it Green!

I'm a chef and restaurateur and I wonder why almost everyone, including cooks and chefs, doesn't who how to prep and take care of your fresh lettuce. kale, celery, and even cilantro. Here's how to have fresh lettuce for sandwiches or tacos weeks into a trip:

1. Get the freshest you can find. Organic really doesn't matter, it's just over priced.
2. Trim off the brown ends.
3. Soak the greens in warm water. Yes, warm, about 85-90 degrees, for 5-10 minutes.
4. Drain well and/or blot. Moisture is the enemy!
5. Place in an air tight container like Tupperware, Ziploc bags, or something similar. In the restaurants we used Cambro containers.
6. Refrigerate.

In my restaurant walk-in I've seen green leaf last two weeks fresh or more. Kale or cabbage at least a month. On a raft trip a good cooler and ice managed and I bet you could be eating fresh lettuce on your sandwich well into a July trip down the Grand! It really doesn't take much effort. Pre-cut or "wild" greens in bags won't last more than day or two.

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Old 05-18-2019   #2
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Good info on the warm water bath. Any idea why that works?

Ive been able to keep iceberg lettuce for 15 days. Like you said, cut off the brown end, dry, then wrap in a couple paper towels and ziplock or vac seal. Cabbage gets to live in a dry box or hatch and then when there is room, move it to a cooler with the same paper towel and ziplock. Had cabbage that Ive used at home after it went on a 25 day trip down the GC. Selection, storage and management is everything. On one trip peoples tomatoes were shot on day 8 and the last one I did I pulled solid ones out after 17 days to slice up for lunch.

Ive gotten some pretty bad looks raiding the hell out of the produce section for the least ripe stuff, but I guess I don't feel to bad when we're eating fresh veggies all the way through. Ive had to hit a few stores to get food in the condition I want it in but its awesome pulling that quality of food out super late in the trip.
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Old 05-18-2019   #3
 
Ridgway, Colorado
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Thank you for that good and not very intuitive info!
What's your advise for guacamole on day 6 of a trip? Pre make it? Buy hard avo? Buy industrial guac?
Serious question. Need an easy app for a chile dinner.
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Old 05-19-2019   #4
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Buy hard avos. Hard avos in a dry box will be about perfect for guac on day 6. Avos you can just press would be about perfect on day 6 if they are in the cooler. I pulled hard avos out on day 12. Found some that were absolutely rock hard and coolered them. They were perfect on day 14 for sandies.
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Old 05-20-2019   #5
 
Grand Junction, Colorado
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Like zbaird says, definitely buy hard, fresh, avos! They'll be perfect in a few days. Protect them so they don't bounce around. Mash them up with a fork, squeeze in some fresh lime, cumin, chili powder, cayenne or Tabasco. Mmmmm! You can add diced tomatoes if you want. If your on a longer trip buy the premade, frozen, guac. It tastes pretty good and you can jazz it up a bit.
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Old 05-20-2019   #6
 
Grand Junction, Colorado
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Regarding why you should soak lettuce in warm water to keep it fresh longer. It's generally hot where lettuce is farmed. It's harvested and jammed into a box, iced, and put in a refrigerator. It goes into some type shock. When you put them in the warm water, ahhhhh, they open up and relax. They soak in a lot more water and firm up. Putting them in an air tight containers puts the back to sleep.
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Old 05-20-2019   #7
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For easy guac, I get the Avocado's Number pre-made from Trader Joe's and freeze the plastic packets. Buried at the bottom of the cooler, it can stay frozen several days. I've never needed to not open one of the bags - they always all get eaten. Last month I experimented with a fresh avocado for a salad for night 4, but it was really more like night 5 since we camped on the way over. It had a special place to live in my main drybox, and it was perfect when it was time for me to cook. I had kept checking it; if it ripened too early, I was just going to have it for lunch. Sometimes it's hard to find really hard avos. Sometimes that's all they have. Frozen guac eliminates that issue.



I have had decent success using fresh produce bags. I can pre-wash lettuce at home, spin it dry, and put it in one of the produce bags. They can breathe to let moisture out. Sometimes I still add a piece of paper towel. For just a few days, I can get lazy and get pre-washed bagged salad mixes, but I do that as close to departure as possible. I often will visit a few stores to get individual bags with the most time left before the "best by" date. They make a good base for a nice green salad. European cucumbers seem to last, as do carrots. Sweet chile (bell pepper) is a tough one; the vegetable bag seems to help. Radish holds reasonably well. I'm reticent to seal up washed lettuce, but I may give this warm water bath a test at home as an experiment. If it works, that's really neat alternative for fresh salad farther into a trip.


Years ago on a GC trip, I was paddling a kayak near the back of the group. A commercial went by, and we had a chat. They asked, as they usually do, if we needed anything. Being late in the trip, I joked that we needed lettuce. What I didn't realize is that they were running low on toilet paper. We had plenty. We had fresh salad that night.
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Old 05-21-2019   #8
 
out west, Idaho
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Wash it in any temp you want then vacuum seal it. It ends up about as thick as a magazine. Lay it anywhere in your cooler. Saves a ton of cooler space and doesn't get contaminated. Open up when ready to use. Make smaller vacuum packs if you are doing several meals.


Been doing it this way for many years.
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Old 05-22-2019   #9
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Thanks for the explanation, that makes sense. I have a ton of kale, spinich, broccoli greens and collards coming out of the greenhouse right now. I imagine it would be less of an issue, since they have never been shocked, but likely not hurt, to rinse them in warm before drying and airtight storage in the fridge? I wouldn't mind if we lost the kale, but the other stuff is good.
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