An Ice Bath Is Key To Making Crispier Salads

Although we may have good intentions at the grocery store, it doesn't always last long — and those leafy greens and root vegetables stored at the back of the crisper bin can soon be forgotten in place of our go-to take-out dinner.

But, when the hankering for a refreshing salad returns or you're inspired by a new resolution, there is one easy solution to restore wilted lettuce and kale to their former glory. Give greens an ice bath to crisp the leaves back up. Plan to immerse roughage for about 30 minutes for maximum effect, though you can see an improvement in as little as 10 minutes.

Pair this trick with other secrets to storing bagged salad to give yourself more time to use your produce. Even if your lettuce and veggies are in pristine shape, you can use an ice bath to keep chopped garnishes in peak condition while you're meal prepping. For extra crisping power, add a splash of lemon to the water when soaking lettuce, too.

The magic behind ice baths

This trick to revive lettuce all comes down to hydration. A shock of ice water rehydrates a plant's cells, restoring the bounce and fluff you desire from greens. Salad mixes and other fresh produce often wilt after prolonged periods in the refrigerator's dry chill. Though the crisper drawer traps some humidity to preserve the fresh veggies, that moisture isn't enough for thirstier items.

Ice baths aren't just for deflated mesclun, either. You use it for root vegetables and stalks, too. That means everything from potatoes and carrots to asparagus and broccoli. Home entertainers can also take advantage of the trick when it comes time to prepare a platter of crudites, immersing chopped servings before guests arrive.

You can treat celery, asparagus, scallions, and herbs like flowers this way; just be sure to soak the stems vertically. Trim the ends to give your plants the best chance at success. For more dire situations, however, you'll want to submerge them fully in water and even try placing the whole ice bath in the fridge overnight.

Using revived salad greens

While the vegetables soak, get to work building a top-notch salad. Make sure to incorporate different textures from crunchy nuts and chips to soft fruits and cheeses. Add revived herbs for a sophisticated touch. If you have leftover stems, leave the herbs in cold water in the fridge to keep them fresh and cover the setup with a plastic bag to create extra humidity. Scallions, on the other hand, can move to a sunny window where they might start to regrow.

As for the lemon juice you might have added to revive lettuce? Embrace the citrus when making a vinaigrette. To make a killer dressing, copy Bobby Flay's finishing touch for better vinaigrettes and use a blender to emulsify the oil and acid. Flay also protects his greens by pouring the acidic liquid around the sides of the salad bowl and mixing gently.

If your aromatics like carrots, celery, and herbs prove too far gone even after an ice bath, don't toss them yet. Use floppy ingredients to make a stock instead. You can even store the wilted vegetables and their trimmings in a ziplock bag in the freezer for future use.