Tender heads of Little Gem and loose-leaf mixes are available year-round in Australian supermarkets and farmers' markets but spring feels like the most fitting time to enjoy them in fresh and vibrant salads.
Look for fresh, crisp leaves free of blemishes, yellowed spots or tiny insect holes. Do not buy greens if they are wilted or dried out. Small, young leaves will have a milder flavour, and more and more greens are now available as tender "baby" leaves. Look for greens tied in bunches or washed, chopped and sealed in plastic bags. Baby greens are sold in bulk or in plastic bags.
Store greens unwashed in plastic bags. Although best if eaten the day of purchase, soft-leaved greens will keep for up to 4 days in a plastic bag in the crisper of the refrigerator.
Immerse greens in a large bowl or sink filled with cool water. Discard any wilted or yellowed leaves. Gently lift out the greens and repeat the washing until the water is clear. A salad spinner is ideal for drying greens, but shaking them gently in a clean tea towel will also absorb excess moisture. Be sure to dry the greens as much as possible, especially if using them for salad, as excess water will dilute the dressing and prevent it from coating the leaves. If you have time, put the washed greens in the refrigerator to crisp.