By: Chris McAdams
It’s happened to all of us. As we rummage through the crisper we find that bunch of wilted vegetables or herbs we forgot all about.
As enlightened culinarians, we are swept by an initial feeling of regret over the neglect of these cruciferous crusaders and the resentment of having to put them in the compost. But fear not friends, there a chance we can revive that poor produce with a simple soaking method.
Vegetables lose their perkiness first and foremost due to evaporation. Water is stored in the cellulose structure of the plant’s cell wall. As the plant ages and/or is exposed to heat the wall begins to weaken due to enzymatic activity and water is released to the atmosphere.
Therefore, it makes perfect sense that the best way to perk up sad vegetables is to soak them in an ice water bath. This slows enzymatic reactions and replaces lost water in the cell walls, leading to happy, revitalized produce. For most vegetables and herbs a soaking period of 15 – 60 minutes is adequate.
Now, it’s safe to say this won’t work with every bit of produce that has lost it’s way. Some will be too far gone, especially those that have succumbed to rot and decay. Cold water can’t heal them.
This trick also works great for simply maximizing the appeal of fresh produce. Soaking greens and herbs before serving in a salad or as garnish will give them extra vibrancy and crispiness. Fennel and carrots take to this method very well.
So experiment away and let us know what works and what doesn’t. Until next time…