Recently a few people have asked about how to clean the creepy-crawlies or "extra protein" off the produce that comes in from the garden, and don't I find it off-putting?
I wrote about this last year, and since I'm elbow-deep in planting right now, how's about we revisit the topic? This appeared in a slightly different version not quite a year ago:
After I cut the lettuce in the morning, I bring it into the house immediately, before it has a chance to wilt. (Sometimes I spray it with the garden hose first.)
I fill a sink with water and pour in quite a lot of salt. I buy the cheapest salt I can find for this purpose. The salt pulls the earwigs, caterpillars, and slugs, if any, away from the leaves, and kills them (or at least makes them sick and, dare I say, "sluggish") so they wash down the drain.
Let me stop here and add a little bit of a plea that, if you have any squeamish tendencies about a little bit of nature -- earth ("dirt"), insects, slugs or whatever -- being on your food, that you just get over it. It's natural and it's good. It's gonna happen, unless you want your vegetables and fruits and herbs sprayed with chemicals. Please just forget about it, clean your food as you should anyway, and eat it happily and with gusto. It's a terrible thing that so many of us has no idea where our food comes from and we are just so disconnected with the earth. TERRIBLE and sad! I consider it a good sign if lots of insects want to eat my food. I swear they know what good nutrition is better than we do. If they don't want to eat it, it's probably not worth eating. I would much rather accidentally eat an ant, or see a little slug on my lettuce that I then rinse down the drain, than to ingest toxic chemicals. I don't know, maybe that's just me.
Anyway, I swish the salt around in the water to dissolve it, and I sometimes add some vinegar to the water, as well, to better clean the veggies.
Throw in the leaves and soak and swish them around in the water for a little while. (Not too long, or they will lose flavor, and I imagine nutrients as well.)
Gently pull them out in handfuls and place in a large bowl or colander while you drain out the first sinkful of water. Look at the dirt and debris in there:
Sometimes there are more bugs and slugs, but this time there were hardly any.
Now fill the sink (or basin or large bowl) up again with just plain water for a final rinse and do the same soak/swish maneuver. Pull the leaves out. Once in a while, if there has been a tough rainstorm that has washed dirt up underneath the leaves, you will have to individually wash some of the leaves under running water, but usually the sinkful-of-water method is my only method.
Abigail gave me my salad spinner for Mother's Day 1995 or '6.
This thing must have been used 4,999 times so far. It is the best! I usually take the leaves out of the sink and put them in here, spin them dry, and put the whole shebang into the crisper drawer in the refrigerator. This works the best of any method I know to crisp up and keep fresh salad greens. Love it!
Grab greens and devour as needed.
Now back to the present. Yesterday was a big planting day, but as you may have gleaned, a lot of my garden is already in and growing like gangbusters.
Here are a few photos I snapped at the end of the day.
This is the bed of Romaine that I thinned last week. The thinning did it good, and it is almost so picture-perfect as to make me weep. The yellow flowers are some sort of Asian green that was a component of the micro-greens mix that I grew and ate earlier in the season. I allowed it to go to flower, to attract beneficial insects. Beneficial insects are the ones that pollinate plants and/or attack and destroy bad insects. It's a beautiful cycle and balance. Learn to love it!
Scallions and asparagus, drizzled in olive oil and sprinkled with fresh-ground pepper and salt, ready to be roasted for dinner.