companion blog to the e-book the 24/7 Low Carb Diner

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Ten Days of Salad...or More!

I shared this fantastic discovery in my July newsletter. I am so happy with it that I have to share it here too. This amazing process, brought to me through the Salad in a Jar blog, has changed the way I prepare our salads for the week. I have retired the old Tupperware system, although the container will still be useful for salad for a crowd. This amazing process will allow you to prep lettuce and a few veggies for 10 or more days worth of salads with no wilting, sogginess or brown spots. You will need some specialty items, which some of you may already own. I happened to own a Foodsaver system. Any model with an accessory port will work. In addition to that, you need a good supply of wide mouth canning jars--loved those already. Lastly, the piece de resistance--the wide mouth jar attachment sold separately by the Foodsaver company.

Interestingly, I think it is a rather strange move for the company to sell this attachment. It is definitely costing them bag sales from my home. I love sealing all sorts of foods in these jars. Since they are totally reusable, there is no waste. My unit, which I got as a Christmas gift a few years ago, came with a durable plastic container with a special lid which could be vacuum sealed. While I loved that container, it came with only one, and additional ones were far too expensive for me! I am so stingy, I found myself hating the waste of throwing away the sealable bag. I hated trying to wash them even more. I will still use them for sealing freezer meals though. When making freezer dinners, I use the roll form of "bag" and make it bigger than I need, so I can cut the top off, then wash and reseal with a smaller portion next time.

Now getting back to the salad in a jar.This attachment costs less than $10. I ordered mine online, since I could not find it locally. It is so worth it. I does a great job creating a tight seal. After vacuum sealing salad greens, they stay fresh. My experimentation has shown that they last at least 10 days. Of course, your time may vary depending on the freshness of the produce to start with. I have experimented with different lettuce mixes too. Here is my favorite greens combo.

1 head read leaf lettuce
1 head iceberg
1 bag spinach
1/2 onion, sliced into rings
3-4 grape tomatoes per jar

Just wash, dry, tear and combine all the ingredients in the largest bowl you have. Then hand pack the mix into quart sized wide mouth jars and vacuum seal. How easy is that? I love only needing to wash salad once a week. Plus seeing the beautiful greens on the top shelf of the fridge reminds us to  eat them. It makes it so easy to grab a quick side salad when I would do without if I had to prep it. If I don't use the whole jar, I can just hand seal, or reseal the vacuum way in just a few seconds. The jars can even go straight into the lunch bag to open at lunchtime at the office. You could eat out of the jar, but you would need a pretty long fork. I just send a bowl along. The jars pop open with the help of the rim of a spoon or knife. I love to hear that freshness pop.

I tried the pre-cut lettuce from Sams. How easy would that be? I was not as happy with the results. Maybe it got too hot in the car ride home--it is sweltering around here these days. It was a little less crisp by the time I packed it. I think the days in processing did too much damage before I got to seal it. I have also tried adding one small bag of prepared salad mix complete with red cabbage and carrot strips. That worked fine and did add some color, but the lettuce that came in the bag did not seem as fresh as that I tore by hand. Once I tried a gourmet blend which was pre-bagged. Most of the lettuces did fine, but one got a little limp. I will probably be leaving the field greens behind and keeping with the head lettuces.

A few pointers. Use a plastic lettuce knife or tear by hand to avoid browning. It doesn't appear in the jar, but browns quickly after removal if cut with a knife. (Yes, I did experiment with that) Don't use cut veggies except  onion or bell pepper if you like it. I add grape tomatoes, but would never use diced tomatoes or cucumbers. It is easy to add those in fresh.

I am so happy with the canning jar system, the Foodsaver appliance is out of the pantry and has been returned to the kitchen counter for everyday use. As small as my kitchen is, an appliance must really be useful to earn a spot! This is a picture of my older model. If you don't already own one, I can still recommend the investment. Just thing about how much you will save by not throwing away those soggy bags of salad. If you are like me, you will be putting everything in jars. Leftovers, soups, sauces and more. I am really thinking about ordering the regular mouth accessory too, so I can seal spices and  small portions. Most of all, however, I love how this idea goes along with the prep day idea of the Diner system. Prep once, eat again and again with no extra effort.


Retta said...

Oh, I appreciate you writing about this again. I got sidetracked with "life" and totally forgot to try this system, when I read about it in the newsletter.

Jackie said...

I just ordered the wide mouth and regular for my food saver! Thanks for the excellent tip!

Paula said...

Love that you love the jars of salad. I think the best thing is how convenient it is to eat salad every day with just a few minutes advanced prep once a week. I need that to continue wearing the same clothes. Thanks for the link, Paula

Lisa Marshall said...

Paula--I am working on that everyday part,myself! Thanks for the great idea, and all the fun things you have on your blog.