Food Science: Why Salad Greens Wilt

On a hot summer evening, a big leafy salad for dinner sounds just about perfect. That is, until the greens start to wilt and the dressing gets all watery. We always figured this phenomenon had something to do with the liquid in the salad dressing, but it turns out the culprit is a different ingredient!

In his book, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, Mark Bittman explains some of the science behind wilting greens. According to him, crisp fresh greens go all limp because of salt in the salad dressing. The salt draws moisture out of the leaves, causing the plant tissue to weaken and the leaf to lose its crispness.

How fast this happens depends on the amount of salt in the dressing, the freshness of your greens, and the type of greens themselves. But all greens will eventually wilt!

The solution? Don't dress your salad until right before it will be served and eaten. Literally, at the last second! Unfortunately, there's no bringing a salad back once the greens have wilted.

Related: Quick Tip: Add Fresh Fruit to Green Salads

(Image: Flickr member catsper licensed under Creative Commons)