THis giveaway is closed– long ago, actually. So sorry.
In anticipation of post-Superbowl guilt and regret regarding food choices and excess, I’m revisiting the whole salad-in-a-jar idea this week. It is my number one skinny secret.
I’m also celebrating the 6-month anniversary of this blog. Leave a comment to be eligible to win the giveaway at the end of this post.
Several commenters on the first post of this blog, Salad in a Jar, have asked questions about using other methods to preserve lettuce. To validate my claims about why vacuum-packing lettuce is better, I did a scientific experiment right here in my very own lab kitchen.
On Sunday, January 17, I cleaned, chopped (with a regular knife–no plastic knife or hand tearing here because I don’t have time for that) and vacuum-packed Romaine lettuce fresh from the store.
Can’t be sure how fresh the lettuce in the store was and I realize it could be a factor. Nevertheless, I pretty much ignored that fact since it is out of my control. I always try to buy the latest date I can find–as I’m sure you do also.
In addition to the vacuum-packed lettuce, I prepared a plastic bag full of lettuce with a paper towel to absorb moisture. I also packed lettuce in quart jars but did not vacuum pack it–simply put the lid on.
What you cannot see here is how moist the lettuce is in the vacuum-packed jars compared to the other lettuce. Which means it’s crisper. Of course, there are no brown edges like the plastic bag lettuce and lettuce from the unsealed jar because there is no oxygen inside a vacuum-packed jar.
Let me reiterate that ALL LETTUCE WAS STORED IN THE REFRIGERATOR for the entire two weeks.
Only Romaine lettuce was tested. I would expect results with other types of lettuce to vary.
1. Up until the fourth day, there doesn’t appear to be much difference in the brownness of the edges. However the vacuum-packed lettuce is crisper and more moist compared to the others. Guess you’ll have to take my word for it.
2. Unsealed, cut lettuce goes downhill after four days.
3. If you do not cut the lettuce, the results may be different. However, my whole reason for vacuum-packing lettuce is to make a grab-and-go salad that requires absolutely no preparation on a busy workday morning. Therefore I have NO EXCUSE for not taking a healthy lunch–every single day.
If you have been thinking about purchasing a vacuum-pack machine and aren’t sure if you will use it, here is my advice.
1. If you want to pack lettuce as I have shown, you ABSOLUTELY MUST have a wide-mouth lid attachment. You cannot pack lettuce in plastic bags.
You may also use plastic canisters sold with some systems but my experience with them is bad. They crack. Quickly. Don’t waste your money. Besides, the glass quart jars are cheap and you’ll want several of them.
2. Do you regularly shop at warehouse stores? If so, you can use it to freeze smaller portions. (Remember the plastic bags are expensive to buy.) Vacuum packed food does not turn icy like it does in plastic wrap or regular plastic bags.
3. Do you like to seal your flour, sugar, cornmeal, pasta, rice, etc? Quart and half gallon canning jars work well. Again you will need the wide-mouth lid attachment.
4. Do you like to keep your leftovers? If so, this is a great way to store them in the freezer while maintaining maximum freshness. Avoid the “icies”.
To summarize, if you don’t cook much, don’t buy much food, don’t think more than one day ahead about what you will eat, and/or have no interest in storing lettuce or fresh produce longer than 3-4 days, I would not recommend a vacuum-pack machine.
If, on the other hand, you cook a lot, buy in quantity, or want to get serious about eating right even though you have a tight schedule (i.e. salad in a jar), think about buying this handy gadget.
If you came to this post without any prior knowledge of “Salad in a Jar”, check out my video for a quick lesson in how to do it.
Are you still with me? If so, I am giving away a brand new vacuum pack machine from FoodSaver to celebrate the 6-month anniversary of this blog. It will come with a wide-mouth lid attachment which is essential for packing salad in a jar.
To enter the contest, tell me your favorite kind of food to see on this blog. It could be a specific dish or a general category such as desserts, low-calorie food, salad ideas, quick and easy or family favorites.
Please don’t enter more than once–thank-you very much. Winner will be chosen at random.
The contest will close Thursday evening, February 11! 2010 at 10:00 CST. Winner will be announced Friday morning February 12, 2010.
p.s. If you are reading this in your email, please leave a comment on my actual blog–online–to be entered in the contest.
p.p.s. This contest is sponsored only by me, Paula