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How to Buy Fresh Greens

Greens that you buy at the supermarket or the farmer’s market may not always be fresh. When buying fresh greens, check for signs of aging. Greens is the catchall term for green leafy vegetable including lettuces (iceberg, bibb, Boston, romaine, and so on), kale, spinach, cabbages, watercress, mustard, beet tops, turnip tops, radicchio, and collard.

Always buy the freshest produce available — it’ll affect the overall results of your dish, from taste to texture.

When buying greens, keep your eyes peeled for these telltale signs of age:

  • In general, avoid greens that are wilted or limp. For example, a fresh head of romaine should look like a bouquet of green leaves, clumped tightly together without any rust-colored edges or signs of decay.

  • Pass up the greens if leaves are yellowing.

  • Brown spots on iceberg lettuce indicate rot.

  • Greens sold in bunches, such as arugula and dandelion, are especially delicate and prone to quick decay; consume them within a few days of purchase.

And don’t believe (just because you watched your mother do it) that wilted greens revive when plunged into cold water.

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