I watch a lot of videos about zero waste and minimalism. Most of the time it’s like flipping through an IKEA catalog: lots of white, lots of pretty interiors, a view of a lifestyle that I can’t achieve right now. From time to time, however, I learn a bit about how to be a little more sustainable in my day to day life. This week I learned about a thing called a greens muslin bag. These are cloth bags used to store greens to keep them fresh longer.
The concept works in much the same way as storing lettuce in a container with a damp paper towel. The moisture keeps the lettuce (or spinach or other greens) from going limp before you can use them. This is something that has plagued my house over the years. We eat a lot of salad, even more the last few months as my husband has started on an anti-inflammatory diet. But sometimes we don’t graze fast enough and I end up having to toss the romaine. It’s not a complete waste as the food goes into our compost.
Since this seemed like a viable idea, and since I wasn’t interested in buying specialty bags just to try it out, I pulled out my muslin scraps stash and stitched one up. I sewed an overlarge drawstring bag out of a length of unbleached muslin. It came out as a square simply because that was the shape of the scrap. The whole project took all of twenty minutes from start to finish. I didn’t have any 100% cotton cord on hand, though, so I used garden twine.
I washed the lettuce we had picked up that day from the produce market, and let the majority of the water drip off. Then stuffed the lot into the bag, closed it and placed it in the bottom drawer of the fridge. The key, from what I knew, was to keep the bag damp, not soaking. Every couple of days I would spritz the bag with water. When we used up all the lettuce, I stored the last of our spinach in the bag.
It worked well enough. The last of the spinach did wilt at the end, but that’s because I forgot to keep the bag damp. I ended up replacing the twine with a yard of cording I picked up later and have stuck our newest batch of spinach in it for now.
I like these kinds of ideas for keeping food without resorting to plastic. And this bag is a lot less disappointing than the silicone bags I bought last month that turned out to be a pain in the butt to clean and ended up breaking after a few uses. I’ll probably make one or two more in different sizes for some of our other vegetables.
Make Your Own Greens Muslin Bag
Making a greens muslin bag is really easy. You’ll need a piece of unbleached muslin. Since the fabric is going to be kept constantly damp you want to use 100% cotton that isn’t dyed to make sure it doesn’t bleed onto your produce. You can go the extra mile and buy organic cotton. However, if you are trying to be as sustainable as possible, look through your fabric stash first. Just like “shopping the pantry” is a way to keep your grocery bill small, you don’t always need to go out and buy fabric if you have something you can already use.
You’ll also need some cording to close the bag. Again, go for 100% cotton if you can. Although in a pinch, an extra long shoe lace would do. You want your cording to measure two times the width of your bag plus 10″.
- Cut your fabric into a rectangle large enough that when it is folded into a square it will fit your produce. Mine was about 15″ x 30″. I used my serger to serge all the ends, but it’s not necessary. You could just as easily zigzag stitch or use pinking shears on the edges to stop any fraying.
- Fold in each short edge 1/2″ and press. Then fold the short edges in another 1/2″ and press. Sew a seam on the outside of each short edge near the first fold. This will be your drawstring channel.
- Fold the fabric in half, right sides together. Sew from the bottom of the channel down the side of the square to the bottom fold. Back stitch at both the start and end of the seam. Repeat on the other side.
- Turn the bag right side out. Use a safety pin to thread your cording through the drawstring channel. Knot the cording together.
Make it Magickal
Because you want to keep the fabric of your bag unmarked so it won’t affect your produce, you might think you can’t add a splash of magick to your greens muslin bag. It’s true that using pens, colored thread or colored fabric might cause issues, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get your kitchen witch on.
Use lemon juice to write sigils on the fabric to add magickal protection to your lettuce. You can also put a sprig of fresh rosemary in with your greens to achieve the same goal. You can even charge the water you use to spritz the bag with whatever magickal intentions you desire. There are lots of possibilities within the limitations, you just have to use your imagination.
Want more magickal kitchen crafts? Check out my tutorial on Fabric Twine Trivets.