Did you know that forty-five percent of Canadians frequently throw away lettuce? Are you part of that group? I am (she says, sheepishly raising her hand). You might remember from my post about using up bananas on their last legs to make banana bread that according to a new study commissioned by the KitchenAid brand* the average Canadian spends approximately $40.80 per week on fresh produce but will throw out close to 10% of their purchases – cumulatively wasting billions of dollars** worth of uneaten fruits and vegetables each year.
I wonder if you can guess the other produce which most often finds its way into Canadian green bins? Think about the produce crisper in your fridge for example. Would it surprise you to know that as well as the lettuce, tomatoes, bananas, grapes and celery are the items at the top of the “Most Frequently Thrown Away” list in Canadian households? Probably not if you are being honest. I know for me, those are items I am always trying to figure out what to do with before they are no good anymore.
Many Canadians don’t realise that they are unwittingly shortening the lifespan of produce by storing it improperly. Did you know that produce like apples and green onions which emit ethylene gas (speeding up the ripening process) should be stored separately from other produce like spinach and yams which are sensitive to ethylene gas? No? Well neither did thirty-nine per cent of respondents in the KitchenAid Fresh Facts survey.
Select KitchenAid® refrigerators now offer the Preserva® Food Care System which helps keep produce fresher longer with built-in ethylene absorption, humidity and temperature control, and air filters to reduce odours. This system can actually help delay over-ripening by up to 25 per cent in commonly purchased produce – I mean wouldn’t you buy more more produce on each shopping trip if you knew it would last longer?
My KitchenAid fridge does not have the Preserva® Food Care System but I have been experimenting with the KitchenAid Produce Preserver kit (available in Canada in early 2014) – a small cartridge you place in your crisper bin which will absorb the ethylene so the produce stays fresher up to 4 days longer – over the past few weeks and have to say I have noticed that things like lettuce and herbs do stay fresher a lot longer. Of course I am also making an effort to store the ethylene-producing and ethylene-sensitive produce apart (here’s a handy chart which explains the difference) AND my fridge does have separate humidity controls in each of the crisper bins (it’s recommended to store fruit and vegetables with skins in a low humidity crisper and fresh, leafy vegetables in a high humidity crisper) so I am sure all this combined is helping to make my produce last longer.
That being said, last weekend, I still ended up with two sad-ish looking lettuces (see!) and wondered what to do with them (to be fair, they were both nearly 2 weeks old which is impressive for the life of a lettuce!). I remembered that quite often in French cooking, lettuce is added to soup so I checked out what else I had on hand to see what type of soup I could come up with. Since we always have frozen peas on hand, I thought a bright green soup might be perfect for a dreary Monday holiday!
Pea soup with lettuce and mint (aka: clean out the fridge soup!)
A fresh bright soup that uses up the lettuce you were about to throw away.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 teaspoons dried mint
- 2 romaine lettuces, roughly chopped
- 4 cups (1 litre) vegetable stock
- 2 cups frozen peas
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Greek yoghurt to serve
- Fresh mint to serve
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan.
- Add onion and garlic and sauté until they start to soften.
- Add the dried mint and lettuce and stir to combine.
- Add the stock and bring to a boil.
- Add the peas and cook until soft, 5-7 minutes.
- Remove from heat, taste and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Allow to stand and cool for 10-15 minutes.
- Using an immersion blender, blitz until smooth.
- Serve with a dollop of Greek yoghurt and a sprinkle of freshly chopped mint.
Result? It’s tasty and green and it doesn’t let the lettuce go to waste. Definitely one to make again and I’ll remember to check for sad lettuces in my fridge next time I am making soup!
* A survey of 1501 Canadians was completed online between May 21 and May 23, 2013 using Leger’s online panel, LegerWeb. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/- 2.5%, 19 times out of 20.
** Canadian households (13, 320, 600 [based on 2011 Census data] multiplied by $190.94) of wasted produce per Canadian household per year.