One can say with almost complete certainty that Bok choy is the most popular Chinese vegetable in the United States. Experts tell you that it is a type of Chinese cabbage; however, we could have sworn it is an exotic cousin of the celery.
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Bok choy, also known as Peking’s cabbage, is a type of green leafy vegetable, which is usually found in Asian cuisine. It has compounds called glucosinolates which can help prevent cancer. It is one of the best superfoods and is chock-full of beta carotene, folate, and calcium.
Because of this, the vegetable is now incorporated in many Western dishes and is considered a staple in many salad recipes.
Unfortunately, like all leafy greens, this vegetable can easily decompose if not stored correctly. This will leave you without the cancer-fighting benefits of this marvelous vegetable. Don’t let this happen. Take a few steps to preserve bok choy at your home.
Ways To Store Bok Choy
Some of the ways that you can preserve bok choy require washing it. Since it is a dense, leafy vegetable, this part is easier said than done. Bok choy hides clumps of dirt between its leaves and you need to clean it out thoroughly before you can cook it and eat it.
It isn’t enough to just rinse off bok choy on the surface. You need to cut it and separate its stalks to get at all the dirt. To do this, slice a layer off the base of the mature vegetable. This will allow you to separate the stalks by gently pulling them off the base. You can then wash it out like you would wash lettuce leaves.
To wash baby bok choy, you need to either half it or quarter it lengthwise. Because baby bok choy is smaller in its size, you can leave the base intact. You can then run water on the vegetable to rinse them out. If the dirt is extremely clogged in, you can use a soft vegetable brush to clean it out.
Once the bok choy is cleaned, strain it using a colander. You should then gently dab it with a paper towel so that any remaining moisture has been removed. You can then store it or use it for cooking.
There are various ways to store bok choy in a refrigerator:
- Store in Zipper Bag: Do not wash bok choy before storing it in the fridge. If you do, the moisture will promote rot. Instead, take the unwashed vegetable and place it in a plastic zipper bag. Cut holes in the bag so that there is air circulation and the vegetable doesn’t wilt. You should eat this within 3 to 4 days.
- Wrap in Paper Towel: Cut off the base of the bok choy and separate the stalks of the vegetable. Keep the white stems as it is often used in recipes as well. Fill a large bowl with cold water and place the separated leaves inside it. Rinse the leaves out and shake them off to get rid of any excess water. Then blot them dry on a paper towel. After the bok choy is completely dry, place the leaves on fresh, new paper towels and roll them up. Place the rolled up leaves in a plastic zipper bag. Place the bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. The bok choy should be fresh for about five to six days.
- Place in Water: Take a jar and fill it with ice cold water. Place the stalks upright in the jar and store it in your fridge. Consume the vegetables in one or two days.
Most of us know that vegetables don’t do well in the freezer. Many of us have experienced leafy greens turning into mush when left in the freezer. With the method stated below, your bok choy won’t turn into pulp and you will still be able to use it for all your recipes. Here are some of the ways:
- Blanching: Wash out your bok choy in the method given above. Once it is clean, take a pot of water and bring it to a boil. Dunk the bok choy leaves into the boiling water for two minutes. Then quickly take them out and plunge them into ice water to stop the cooking process. Dry the leaves with a paper towel and then place them inside airtight plastic freezer bags. Make sure there is as little air as possible inside the bags. Then place them in the deepest part of your freezer.
- Freezing without Blanching: Some people prefer freezing their bok choy without first subjecting it to blanching. In fact, they want minimal contact with water, which can start the rotting process. To follow this method, clean out your vegetable using paper towels. Cut the base of the vegetable, separate the stems and wipe them down thoroughly using damp paper towels.
Then place the leaves and the stem onto a cutting board and chop them into pieces. Place the pieces inside a freezer bag and lay it down flat to get out any excess air that is present. Seal the bag and place it inside the freezer.
The vegetable can be used within a year.
To ‘pressure can’ bok choy, you first need to blanch it. Plunge the cleaned bok choy in a pot of boiling water and then fish it out after 2 minutes. Place it in cold ice water for 2 minutes to stop the cooking process. Then drain it and transfer it to clean canning jars.
Once the jars are loosely filled, fill them up with boiling water, leaving roughly one inch of space at the top. Close the lids of the jar and add them to the pressure canner.
You can process a pint-sized jar for 70 minutes on a pressure of 11 pounds in a dial-gauge canner. You will be stunned at how much bok choy you can fit into each jar once the leaves become wilted from the pressurized steam. A canner load of 7 quarts can hold up to an average of 28 pounds of greens.
Place these cans in a cool, dry place and you can store these cans for a year or even longer.
You can dehydrate the bok choy to make it last longer. Start by preparing the bok choy by trimming its ends and washing it out, as stated in the method above. Blanch the bok choy by putting it in boiling water for a couple of minutes. Then take it out and transfer it into an ice bath. Once the greens have cooled down, drain them out in a colander and dry them out by using paper towels or a salad spinner.
There are two ways to dehydrate the bok choy.
- Food Dehydrator: Place the clean bok choy on a dehydrator tray and let it dry out until its leaves achieve a brittle texture. This usually takes 8 to 10 hours if your dehydrator is set at 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Baking Oven: For those who don’t have a dehydrator, you can dry out the vegetable in a baking oven. Put the bok choy on a baking sheet and place it in the oven at the lowest temperature. This method will take significantly longer than the food dehydrator method as the oven does not have an airflow that is generated in a dehydrator.
Although not many people think of pickling when it comes to preserving bok choy, it is one of the best and most flavorful ways to ensure that your vegetable remains edible for months. To pickle bok choy, start by first sterilizing the jar.
Place the jar in a large pot of water and boil it for 10 minutes to get rid of all bacteria. Turn off the stove abut let the jars stay inside the pot to keep them warm.
Wash out the bok choy and chop it up into clean pieces. Put the cut bok choy inside the warm jar. Then create the pickling brine for the bok choy. For each pound of bok choy, use half cup water, one cup vinegar, one tablespoon sugar and half tablespoon salt. Put the pickling brine to simmer for about 3 minutes, before pouring the contents into the jar. Let the jar completely cool down and then refrigerate it. You can also create different flavors of bok choy pickles by adding spices and herbs like cayenne, ginger, fennel seeds, black pepper, coriander and more.
You can store your bok choy in this manner for five to six months.
If you visit a supermarket, you will see several growth stages of the bok choy, including seedling, baby, flowering and mature. These stages look widely different from each other and are bound to create confusion among consumers. To make matters even more perplexing, there are several varieties of bok choy, including the common white-stemmed type, the green-stemmed type, and the dwarf white-stemmed type. However, that in no way means you should not try bok choy. In fact, if you have never eaten bok choy, you are definitely missing out.
Among the various types of Chinese cabbages, bok choy has made a distinctive identity for itself. Not only does it have a crunchy texture if you are using it in salads or in recipes where cooking times are short, but if you let them simmer for a while, they have a creamy, pureed texture that is very unique.
In essence, eat more bok choy.