I don’t buy bagged double- or triple-wash or any other variety of prepared salad greens that come in a plastic clamshell or bag. But not be for the reasons you might assume.
It’s not because I’m overly concerned that bacteria might make it through all that pre-washing in a chlorinated bath (although tests conducted by Consumer Reports did find bacteria that are common indicators of poor sanitation and fecal contamination, when they tested 4,000 samples of all kinds of packaged greens from baby greens to spinach, traditional and organic). As creepy as that is to think about, the report assures that the contamination falls within the FDA’s acceptable levels.
It’s not even my concerns about just how long ago these greens were cut and washed. Granted, I am not a fan of limp, tired-appearing romaine, iceberg lettuce or cabbage. And even though I am a believer that once you wash, cut and prepare any kind of fresh produce—be it fruit or vegetables—the flavor and quality begin to degrade, that’s not it either.
Nope, it’s not any of those things that cause me to just walk on by that prepackaged section in my supermarket produce department.
The reason I don’t buy salad in a bag is the cost. I can’t bring myself to pay at least three times more to get my salad greens cut up, pre-washed and then sealed in a plastic bag or box.
At my local supermarket, Fresh Selections/10-ounce romaine lettuce mix in a bag is $2.99. A head of romaine lettuce is $.99/each, or $.62 for a 10-ounce equivalent.
As I’ve queried readers and friends on the bag versus bulk question, the overarching reason so many people go for the prepackaged, triple-washed, salad greens in a bag, is down to one thing: time. Bagged salads are convenient and so easy to just grab and go. (Ironically, nearly everyone I’ve chatted with admits to rewashing those bagged salad greens, just to be on the safe side. So where’s all the convenience in that?)
Last weekend I did my own test. I shredded an entire head of green cabbage using a sharp knife. I was done start to finish in 7 minutes. I ended up with a bowl of beautiful, bright green, crunchy, fresh cabbage for our favorite coleslaw. It took another 5 minutes to make the awesome dressing. And the cost? About $1.30, complete. Yum.
Sweet Restaurant Slaw
1 head green cabbage, shredded
2 tablespoons diced onion
2/3 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black ground pepper
Combine shredded cabbage and onion in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Pour dressing over cabbage mix and toss to coat. Chill for 2 hours before serving. Servings: 6.
TIPS: If you still prefer to purchase prewashed salad greens, follow these tips:
- Buy packages as far from their use-by date as you can find.
- Even if the bag says “prewashed” or “triple-washed,” wash the greens yourself. Rinsing won’t remove all bacteria but may remove residual soil.
- Prevent cross contamination by keeping greens away from raw meat.
Question: Do you buy pre-packaged greens that come in a bag or box? If so, do you rewash?