My Grandmother taught me how to clean leafy green vegetables, like bok choy, choy sum, or yu choy. My grandmother is a very clean person. Everything from her home, to her hands, and even her vegetables are very clean. She grew up in a small village in China where there wasn’t running water or modern sanitation. Everything was washed thoroughly to minimize germs. This is her method of cleaning vegetables. It might be more effort then your current cleaning process but I guarantee you will never chew sand when eating your vegetables.
When you buy your leafy green vegetables, especially if they are sold pre-packaged, you will have some leaves that are discolored or have holes. Always try your best to pick the vegetables that have the best looking and healthiest leaves (ex: not yellow, no holes).
The vegetables will have sand stuck to them because they grow so close to the ground. Do your best to pick the ones with the least amount of sand. I won’t buy vegetables with a lot of sand because it is too hard to remove all of it.
You want to prepare the best tasting leafy green vegetables so remove all imperfections such as, yellow leaves and leaves with holes.
Then cut the ends of the stems. Depending on when the vegetables are harvested, the ends could be dry. I usually cut up to a 1/4 inch off the ends because the ends are dirty from being so close to the ground.
Once you have removed all of the imperfections from the leafy green vegetables, you are ready to clean them.
Put the vegetables in a large pot or bowl and fill it with enough water to cover all of the leaves. Add white vinegar using the measurements, 6 parts water to 1 part vinegar (6:1), to remove bacteria and pesticides. Use your hands to mix the vinegar with the water. Let the vegetables sit for 15 minutes.
(Here comes the big effort.) Take each stem, peal back where the leaves meet the stems, and use your fingers to rub out the sand. I use gloves to wash my vegetables because I have dyshidrotic eczema on my hands so water triggers the eczema.
Grab the bottom of the stem, submerge the vegetable into the water and give it a shake to remove any remaining sand. After the shake, place the vegetable on a plate or bowl.
After you have finished pulling back the leaves and shaking each vegetable, you will see the water will have sand on the bottom and might be a tint of brown depending on how dirty the vegetables were. Empty the water and rinse out any remaining sand on the bottom, put all of the vegetables back in, and fill it with enough water to cover all of the leaves. No need to add vinegar to the water. Repeat the steps of pulling back the leaves and rubbing out the sand and shaking each vegetable at least a second time. Do it a third time if your vegetables are very dirty and you still see a lot of sand at the bottom of the pot after the second washing.
There is effort to this cleaning process but your leafy green vegetables will be very clean and there will be no sand left on the leaves or hiding in the creases. I think one of the worst experiences at a Chinese restaurant is chewing sand when you eat Chinese leafy green vegetables. My Grandfather use to own a restaurant in Chinatown, NY, and my mom told me the restaurant didn’t have time to follow a process like my Grandmother’s to clean the vegetables. They just soaked the vegetables in water for an hour or so to loosen the sand and then gave them a massive shake.
Leafy Green Vegetable Cleaning Mama,