The Very First Thing You Should Do with a New Roll of Paper Towels

updated Aug 18, 2020
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Roll of paper towels on the kitchen counter
Credit: Sarah Crowley

I recently experienced one of my least favorite culinary situations of all time: limp kale in my crisper drawer. I know, in the grand scheme of things, this is not the end of the world, but wasting food is something I really try to avoid. So, when I lifted the head of slightly smelly, extremely wilted kale to find a small brown puddle, I felt really sad. I had purchased that kale optimistically thinking of this salad (which is excellent; I highly recommend it), or maybe a simple sauté or kale with pasta, or really any number of simple kale recipes that I could whip up quickly and feel slightly smug about, because: kale! So healthy! Instead, I had soggy, stinky, brown leaves that had to be tossed.

If only I’d had the foresight to do this one tiny thing that would have extended the life of my leaves: Put a paper towel in the bottom of my produce drawers. (A note on paper towels: I try to limit my use of paper towels as much as possible, but I find there are a few things that really call for them: Patting chicken dry to get super-crispy skin, seasoning my cast iron skillet, and lining my produce drawers.)

Credit: Sarah Crowley

Line Your Produce Drawers with Paper Towels

When you store your kale or other veggies in your crisper drawer, they’re going to release some moisture. That’s just fact. A paper towel on the bottom of the drawer will absorb that water and help keep your produce fresher, longer. No wilted, rotten kale leaves! No mess in the bottom of your drawer!!

If you are pretty good about checking your crisper drawer and using whatever is in it, you will probably find you don’t have to change out your paper towel all that often — about as often as it takes you to go through a roll of paper towels. (Assuming you try to use them sparingly like I do!) So, when you open a new roll, it’s a great reminder to check your produce drawer and stick a fresh sheet in there. It will mean great things for your future kale salads.