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I noticed these before in major retailers such as Sainsburys and Tescos. They are salad leaves planted in trays for you to take home, put on your windowsill and harvest as and when needed. They come covered in plastic with clear instructions. The plastic needs cutting away to the base in order to keep moisture in the bottom of the tray.
They cost around 75p to £1.25 in most shops and tend to be available from May to September. Sometimes they are on offer with other salad vegetables.
ARE THEY DIFFICULT TO KEEP
No. When you first get your living salad home, follow the instructions carefully. This includes cutting down the plastic to the top of the plastic container and placing on a window sill. The one thing I did notice is that it does need watering quite frequently, say half a cup of water twice a day to keep it fresh.
HOW LONG DO THEY LAST
I have to say I was fed up of buying salad packs and ice burg lettuces that only lasted a couple of days, even in the fridge. When you live 10miles from a supermarket its pretty inconvenient. I have to say buying one of these has been great. Although we dont eat alot of salad I dont want to just eat it on a monday and tuesday after a sunday shop! They last about 5-7 days depending on how well you look after it and how warm it is. Of course the warmer it is the shorter time it will last.
All you do is cut off the number of leaves that you need, wash thoroughly and eat! The rest can be kept until another meal time.
FOR THE CHILDREN
My children enjoy watering these and have now shown interest in growing our own vegetables, also I have found because they are able to cut their own leaves they have been eating them!!!
There isnt a huge amount of salad leaves in the trays, probably around 4 to 6 small servings so maybe wouldnt be much good if you ate alot of salad. The leaves will droop quickly if not watered twice a day so maybe not a good idea if you work long hours or out of the house for many hours a day.
Great for us who like a little salad throughout the week!
Thanks for reading!
During the summer my garden is a mass of lettuce and rocket plants. In fact these are so prolific, as I grow them in every available space as salad leaves are a passion of mine. It saves a lot of money and the leaves are fresh and succulent, and there for you to pick any time to add to salads and sandwiches or even to stir fry.
As summer fades and gives way to autumn these plants are not as successful outside, as I do not have a greenhouse. I do plant winter varieties, but it's a slow process, and often with hit and miss results.
I don't like buying salad leaves in bags, as I don't find they keep for very long, and they are often sprayed with chemicals to preserve their life, and I really prefer to pick my salad leaves fresh from the plants.
Recently I have discovered a company who produce a tray of salad leaves which are ready planted, about 8 weeks old, and will provide me with salad leaves whenever I want them from my indoors windowsill.
The company in question is called Living Salads and you can find their website at www.livingsalads.co.uk. They are based in Hull and here they produce trays of exotic salad leaves. The beauty is these leaves are varied and unusual which is what I love in my salads.
I purchase mine from Waitrose where they retail for £1.19, which I think represents really good value for money. The tray is a substantial size measuring 7" by 5" and it is filled with many different salad leaves all beautifully new and succulent, still growing in their bed of 50% coconut husk which is moisture retentive.They are to be found with the salads in the fruit and vegetable section in most supermarkets.
All you do is to trim round the plastic sleeve, and there you have fresh salad leaves to harvest with scissors any time you want.
The company was started by Andrew Johnson, who was made redundant from a Portuguese salad company where he was a director. In 2004 with a small flat packed greenhouse assembled, he began to grow the seedlings which were to become the basis of his business idea. He had the vision that consumers wanted to eat fresh salad leaves, without having to purchase them in bags.
With a lot of ground work ensuring the leaves would grow all year round he approached the chief buyer for Sainsbury and the rest is history. He now supplies many outlets including Lidl and the Co-op as well as Tesco and Waitrose, and his sales are growing.
The mix of leaves in the selection makes for a tasty meal. The varieties I have purchased recently have been various types of lettuce, but I have had selections with more exotic leaves such as Tatsoi and Pak Choi before from this company.
What is absolutely uniform throughout all their produce is the freshness. The leaves are succulent with a delicate flavour, and are ideal for adding to sandwiches and salads.
To care for them just water lightly and keep on a windowsill. I wouldn't use a south facing one as it may well be too severe, but any with some good light is fine, and they will keep fresh for 10 days.
Sales of this kind of living salad are massive in Scandinavia where they make up 25% of all the salads sold in retail outlets whereas in the UK it is only 1%. It is hoped that with customers concerns over the use of chlorine to keep bagged salads fresh, together with the very reasonable prices charged for these salads, that there will be a market for these products which will grow year on year.
There is no doubt that the fresh leaves taste so good because moments before you eat them they were still growing, so they retain a lot more vitamins and minerals.
I think they really come into their own in the autumn and winter when salads can be tasteless, and aesthetically it looks lovely and fresh to see these leaves growing on a kitchen windowsill on a dark November morning.
Carrying them home from the shops is easy as they have a carry handle and for me the greatest joy is to make them a central part of the meal. One of my favourite dishes is grilled Cypriot Halloumi which when drizzled with lemon juice and oregano sits on these salad leaves, and looks lovely and is delicious and a reminder of summer!
I love these leaves, I think they are excellent value for money, are delicious and fresh, and they have provided me with leaves all year round, without having to resort to bagged salads which have their uses, but also their limitations.
You don't need a garden, just a passion for freshness, and buying these supports a British Industry and provides secure jobs for people. It is hard work. Each tray has 60 seeds planted in it, and these have to be cared for over an 8 week period before you buy them to harvest.
All you need is a pair of scissors and you will be rewarded with fresh salad leaves all year round.
Only one downside specific to me! I have a family of Persian cats and if I didn't keep these away from them they would nibble on the leaves when I wasn't looking. Not healthy for them, or for me, so I keep them away! If you have any indoor cats this could pose a problem.
This review is also posted by myself on Ciao under my user name there Violet1278.
I discovered this delicious salad tray for the first time while on holiday. I don't usually buy much green salad in the summer as I mange to grow all I need in my garden. Even in the winter months I try to avoid salad in plastic bags and this would seem to be the perfect solution. It is also ideal for those who don't have the space, time or inclination to grow veggies but still appreciate very fresh salad.
It is quite simply a black plastic tray, about 7" by 5", containing a mix of green salad leaves growing in soil. The compost the plants are growing in is 50% coconut husk which is far better than 100% soil as the husks help to retain moisture and it is a renewable material making it much more environmentally friendly than, for example, peat.
The tray is enclosed in a plastic bag with a stick-on label giving details of the contents. To get to the plants you need to cut off the top half of the bag just above the level of the tray, making a tray for the tray, if you see what I mean.
The stuck on label stated that the tray contained a mixture of tatsoi, pak choi, chard and mustard leaves. The plants are about 4 weeks old and all they need is to be placed on a windowsill and watered occasionally. I would not recommend placing them on a windowsill that gets too much direct sunlight or is too hot otherwise they will dry out very quickly. The label says they will last for 10 days but I used them all up in less than one week so I can't really comment on this although I see no reason why they wouldn't easily last this long.
This mix of leaves can be eaten straight from the punnet as a salad or can be stir-fried if you prefer. The leaves were beautifully crisp and the overall flavour was of a mild peppery salad. This pack gave me about four fairly generous side salads so it was about the right size for one week on holiday, although it would be nice if you could have the option of buying a larger pack.
The label also gave the allergy advice that it contained mustard. I hadn't heard of this allergy before but when I checked it out would seem that although mustard allergy is quite rare it can cause anaphylaxis in those who are sensitive to it. So, since November 2005, food labelling rules have required pre-packed food to show a warning on the label if it contains mustard.
This mix is not the most common selection of leaves so, for those who are unsure what they are like, I will try to describe them. Tatsoi is dark green with spoon shaped leaves and white stems. It has a mild mustardy flavour and crunchy texture. Pak choi has slightly broader dark green leaves which sometimes have white ribs and a white stalk and also has a mild, slightly sweet mustardy flavour. Chard has crinkly green leaves and a white stem and has a mild peppery flavour. Mustard leaves are thinnish in shape and not surprisingly have a hot and spicy flavour.
The pack did not contain any nutritional details but, generally speaking, green salad leaves are a good source of natural vitamins and minerals. The label did say the plants were pesticide free which is good to know when you are eating raw food!
The full price for the pack was £1.49 but the one I bought had a third off, so it was 99p which, although is a lot more expensive than my home grown salad, I consider to be reasonable value for very fresh food. The leaves themselves were delicious and I have bought them again recently in my local Co-op now I don't have fresh salad leaves growing in my garden.
The pack is made by a company called Living Salads based at a nursery in Hull. Their details can be found at www.livingsalads.co.uk.
Thank you for reading.
© perfectly-p 2008 (aka perfectlypolished)
Trays of growing baby salad leaves, ready to be freshly harvested at home.