You should consume arugula as soon after its harvest as possible if you want to maximize its nutritional value and flavor. Of course, this is not always possible. In cases where you need to store arugula, you will need to consider its flavor since that is one of the main characteristics that set it apart from other greens. Remember also that no matter which method you use to store your arugula, it is better if you eat it sooner rather than later. If you are wondering how to store arugula, consider the tips below.
Start by washing it
It is a good idea to wash all leafy greens whether you intend to use them right away or not. If you want to store them for an extended period, it is essential. Washing helps to remove any bacteria on the surfaces of the leaves, which means that you are less likely to see brown spots showing up as quickly as you would with unwashed leaves.
For even greater antibacterial protection, you should use a vinegar solution to wash your arugula. Rinse the leaves in water with a small amount of vinegar and then let them dry before storing.
In the refrigerator
As with other fresh herbs, the best way to store arugula leaves is in the refrigerator. You want to keep the leaves cold and moist but not too cold and not too moist. The simplest way is to store them in a resealable plastic bag and using damp — not wet — paper towels to provide moisture; the paper towels will also soak up any extra moisture while keeping the arugula from drying out. Wrap your bunches of arugula with the paper towels and place them in the bags.
You can keep arugula fresh with this method up five days. You can poke holes in the plastic bag as an additional measure to help prevent excessive condensation.
Effective freezing of arugula is not as simple as it is with other herbs. With spinach and similar greens, all you have to do is blanch the leaves and freeze them in bags. You can do the same with arugula, but the results will not be ideal. Arugula that has been frozen and then thawed simply does not taste like the fresh herb. Instead, you can improve the outcomes by placing arugula leaves in olive oil before you freeze them. The use of olive oil helps arugula to retain its flavor. Place the arugula into a shallow container and submerge it in the olive oil. Once it is frozen solid, take it out of the container and break it into smaller pieces. You can then place those pieces into freezer bags and store them indefinitely.
You can use frozen arugula in the same ways that you would use fresh arugula including in raw applications like salads; however, it works best when you reserve it for cooked dishes like pizza or pasta.
If you have the whole arugula plant with the roots still attached, you can place it upright in a container of water such as a drinking glass or mason jar. Cover it with a plastic bag for further protection. You can keep it fresh using this method for at least a week.
Make a pesto
An alternative to freezing arugula in olive oil is to make a pesto with it first and then freeze that. Some experts recommend that you use only half of the oil that the recipe requires. When you thaw your pesto, you can add the other half.