The Best Way to Preserve Greens That Are About to Go Bad
Welcome to Thrifty. A weekly column where nutrition editor and registered dietitian Jessica Ball keeps it real on how to grocery shop on a budget, make healthy meals for one or two, and make Earth-friendly choices without overhauling your entire life.
This year, I had an incredibly productive garden. It probably helped my cause that it was over twice the size of my previous garden, but I like to think experience helped a little, too. And by "incredibly productive," what I really mean is that I had more veggies than my household could reasonably eat fresh before they spoiled. As garden season in Vermont comes to a close, I've turned to preserving my harvest for the colder months.
Aside from the usual suspects of tomatoes, cucumbers and squash, I was lucky to have ample greens from my garden as well, primarily spinach, kale and carrot greens. Unfortunately, greens have an inherently short shelf life, and large quantities can be hard to get through before they go bad. But I did learn the best way to preserve greens that are about to go bad: blending them up and freezing them in an ice cube tray.
Credit where credit is due, I did get this idea a while back from TikTok sensation Emily Mariko. Mariko removed the greens from beets, carrots, radishes and kohlrabi, rinsed them and blitzed them with a little water in a blender until smooth. Then she poured them into an ice cube tray and popped them in the freezer—and that's it! Since I only have a few ice cube trays, I pop out the cubes and store them in a freezer bag. These greens are perfect for green smoothies, soups and basically anywhere you would be using frozen spinach where texture isn't important.
I've actually been using this method for most of the summer to preserve my surplus carrot tops. I especially loved having a way to cool down my smoothie without diluting it much. Honestly, I drank way more green smoothies knowing I had these cubes on hand. But you don't have to blend up your greens in order to freeze them, especially if you have heartier leaves like kale, chard or collards. It can be as simple as adding leaves to an airtight bag and throwing them in the freezer so that you have ample time to use them when you need. (Just note that frozen greens won't have the same crunchy texture that they do raw, so they won't be very good in salads.)
Preserving your greens in a way that makes sense for you can make it easier to have healthy food at-the-ready for meals and snacks. Also, it provides an easy way to use up food that's about to go bad, so you can cut down on food waste and save money. Especially if you have an excess of produce from a garden, utilizing your freezer is a simple way to preserve all that you worked so hard to produce. For more beginner- and budget-friendly tips, check out Thrifty.