We plan to grow lots of bright, crunchy salad varieties each year at Neetfield. It’s a very fast growing crop and can be planted quite close together which makes good use of our limited space, and it’s delicious with just about any meal so it’s good to have plenty growing at any time.
Washing your salad
At Neetfield we wash our salad before bagging it up. We don’t ever use any chemicals on our crops and water as much as possible using methods that don’t splash soil onto the leaves. However it’s good to give your salad another wash before eating it.
As simple as washing your greens may seem, we just thought it would be good to share our experience from the kitchen.
The best way to wash your salad
- Fill your sink with cold water (the colder the better)
- Gently scatter your leaves across the surface of the water and gently submerge them with open hands, creating a bit of movement as you go.
- Leave the salad submerged in the cold water for a few minutes
- Gently remove the leaves to a colander or sieve and drain well
- Once as dry as you can get it, use right away or store your salad in an airtight container and refrigerate
Salad washing tips
- Whilst cleaning your salad, remove any damaged leaves and dispose of in your food waste or compost bin. The saying “One bad apple can spoil the bunch” is true of salad too.
- Salad wilts when the cells in the leaf have lost their plumpness because water has escaped through the cell wall. Refreshing the leaves in cold (icey if possible) water will bring the leaves right back to life, giving you another chance to enjoy your nice crisp salad.
Plastic salad bags - what's the deal?
Salads and leafy greens would be inedible within hours of harvesting if not kept in an airtight and refrigerated environment. If left unpackaged, moisture would escape from the leaves which will then become limp and begin to break down. In contrast, salads kept in the right conditions will remain crisp, bright, and beautiful for as many as 10 days.
All plastic is in theory degradable if given enough time, however single use plastics end up in landfill or the ocean where they will out-live us and our children, taking hundreds of years to break down.
This is an incredibly challenging subject and whilst there is an increasing number of salad bag options being marketed as 'degradable', 'biodegradable', 'oxo-biodegradable' and 'compostable', we've found little evidence to suggest that any of these options are actually better for the environment than traditional plastic bags.
'Compostable' is possibly the most misleading as these plastics are usually only compostable under very specific industrial composting conditions. How many compostable plastics actually find their way into such conditions...? Our guess is not many.
'Degradable' and 'Biodegradable' simply mean that under certain conditions the plastic will break down within a reasonable period of time (often 2 years), however they only break down into smaller fragments of plastic which can still end up harming the environment. We are unable to find any research into the effect that these 'microplastics' have on the environment but common sense suggests that it's still not a good enough solution.
The emerging ray of hope is 'home compostable' materials that are made from natural substances and can be broken down in under 12 months in a home compost heap, returning to the soil as natural materials that can be reused to feed more crops.
We will be hunting for a reliable supplier of home compostable salad bags and as soon as we find them, we'll be using them.