Until this spring, we never had the need to preserve garden greens in this household. We easily ate the bit of greens coming out of our garden. We typically consume store-bought greens immediately or end up composting the green slime they turn into. (I am sure we are the only household that does not finish their greens….)
However, this year we harvested a bumper crop of greens from the spring garden and, around the same time, foraged nearly one hundred pounds of lambs quarters. My fingers are green as I type from plucking the leaves off about 42,000 lambs quarters stems. There were thousands of pounds we left in the field — you can see my mother lost in a sea of these wild greens.
After eating gallons of very green soup, we decided that such abundance would
require a mixed-strategy. There was no way we could eat it all.
We froze about half of our greens collection, part of which was frozen raw and part boiled. The best freezing solution for your greens will depend on your own kitchen management and how you plan to use the greens.
Freezing greens raw is by far the quicker solution. The raw greens are easy to pop into a soup or stir fry later and will cook quickly. This strategy would be ideal if it were not for the oxalic acid in the greens themselves.
Oxalic acid is a mineral inhibitor found in leafy greens, in particular in spinach, collards, lambs quarters, and chard. Oxalic acid will also cause kidney stones, particularly in people prone to kidney stones. If you are using the greens as we do in our extremely green soup, you will want to take measures to reduce the oxalic acid content.
Boiling the greens and discarding the boiling water is by far the best strategy to reduce oxalic acid. (I detail the research on calcium and oxalic acid here.)
If I am freezing greens high in oxalic acid, I freeze them already boiled so that I can just pop them in a soup later. If the greens are just going to add a bit of flavor and texture to a dish, frozen raw greens win for their ease of freezing and convenience in defrosting.
Freezing greens raw is extremely simple. If you fear that your store-bought greens are headed to
green mush and you are pressed for time, this is a great strategy. Simply do the following:
With this method some of your leaves will stick together, but you will be able to pull out a handful pretty easily as you need them.
This is actually my preferred method for high oxalate greens because I end up with quart-sized baggies of cooked greens, enough to add great nutrition to soup, already boiled and ready to use.
With this method, your leaves will freeze in one quart-sized lump. Depending on how you use your greens, consider measuring quantities you typically use into each bag. For instance, fill each bag with two cups of cooked greens.
Of course, you could just make a giant batch of extra green soup and gobble it up. That was our first course of action with our foraging bounty.
You can freeze greens raw or cooked. Here is your option for cooked greens.
Put on a large pot of water to boil.
Tear the greens into usable cooking sizes if they are large.
Wash the leaves well.
Add the leaves to boiling water for five minutes.
Discard the boiling water through a strainer or colander.
Run cool water over the leaves to cool them quickly.
Once the leaves are cool, grab a handful, squeeze out the water, and place the leaves in a quart-sized freezer bag.
Cleaning your garden greens
Leafy Greens: How To Choose, Ideas For Cooking
Your Next Greens Cookbook: Greens, Glorious Greens
Homemade kale chips — Your way, your flavors
An extra-nutritious polenta with some added wild greens
A green salad with a touch of India to break you out of your salad boredom
Asian chicken lettuce wraps
The two boys who won’t eat vegetables, a story that has nothing to do with hiding greens in meatloaf or zucchini cake…