Ben Bretz, Master Gardener, Micro Greens
Sometimes it’s just too hot to cook. Especially this time of year in West Texas. That’s when a little bit of prepping will be greatly appreciated by the head chef at your house.
Canned salad you ask, how can you CAN a salad? Well, you can’t but you can make them ahead and seal them so they keep a while.
Some of the supplies you’ll need are:
A vacuum sealer
Foodsaver jar sealer adapter. (they come in regular mouth and wide mouth size, I ordered mine online)
Clean canning jars with lids
Some other things that are handy but not required are a salad spinner and an automatic chopper.
First decide what you want in your salad. I usually use some carrots, celery, chick peas or black beans, olives, edamame, and a nice fresh spring mix of lettuce or baby spinach, and of course, my homegrown microgreens.
First prep all your salad fixins, no, I didn’t spell that wrong, that’s how we say it here. Wash and chop the veggies and drain the peas or beans. If you’re using edamame, cook it for a few minutes, drain it and let it cool. Wash the greens of your choice and spin them dry. They need to be very very dry. Make sure your jars are clean and dry also.
I use pint jars for my personal size salads to take in lunches, and quart for a family size dinner salad. Choose whatever size is good for you. I set everything up assembly line style on my kitchen counter and then get busy!
Place your favorite salad dressing in the bottom of the jar. I don’t use salad dressing so I can’t really tell you how much to put in there. Maybe a tablespoon or so.
After the dressing, start layering all your other ingredients except the greens. When you have everything you want in there, place the greens in last. Make sure they are extremely dry. I spin mine in the salad spinner three or four times and then blot any moisture after that. Your salads will keep longer the dryer your greens are.
Place the lid, not the band, just the lid, on top of the jar and proceed to the sealing.
Place the jar lid adapter securely over the lid and the jar. Connect it to the sealer by whichever method your sealer has and turn it on! It will take about 30 seconds or so to suck all the air out and seal the jar.
I have a counter top mid-range vacuum sealer so it doesn’t take too long. Once you’re certain the jar has sealed remove the lid adapter and place the ring on the jar. Viola! You’re done. Repeat this with the rest of your ingredients and sit back while you enjoy a cool kitchen.
I make enough for about two weeks and as long as everything is dry when they are put together, the salad will keep two weeks or more. I don’t put tomatoes in the jars, refrigerating tomatoes makes them mushy. I also occasionally either add a protein to one of the layers or just toss it in when I’m ready to eat. Leftover grilled chicken, ham or tuna is good, or sometimes even a little cooked pasta. I sometimes just use this method to help preserve any overabundance of homegrown greens or micro greens. They will also keep for a couple of weeks when saved this way.
You can purchase a hand-held vacuum sealer at most grocery and discount stores for less than $20. They’re also useful for zipper top bags with a vacuum port you want to freeze in. I had to order the jar lid adapter on line, those run about $10 each.
The $20-$40 investment is well worth it with the money you will save by not throwing out spoiled veggies and taking your salad to lunch.
Always feel free to call either of the AgriLife offices if you have any gardening questions. Odessa, 432-362-8205 or Midland, 432-686-4700.