With food costs skyrocketing, letting anything go to waste right now is not an option. Produce is no exception so knowing how to store lettuce and keep all your lettuce fresh longer can be a survival skill. If you've got a garden, you might find yourself with way too much lettuce, and it's also easy to overbuy at the store, especially if you're a big fan of salads or sandwiches. Lettuce can last a long time in the right conditions, but you have to make sure you give it those conditions first. Here's how to prepare, wash, and store lettuce so it will last a long time.
How To Wash Lettuce
Pre-washed bagged lettuce from the grocery store makes quick salad recipes and taco night even quicker. But should you wash lettuce even if it's been prewashed? Yes, it's actually a good idea to wash all lettuce, including prewashed.
Loose leaf lettuce is a magnet for sand and dirt buildup. A good wash can help prevent E. coli and other bacterias.
You can wash your salad greens before or after storing it in the refrigerator. But if you choose to wash before in a food prep frenzy, just make sure you dry the leaves well and place paper towels between the leaves for any excess moisture you missed. Store in a plastic bag to avoid wilted lettuce.
Wash all your types of lettuce like butter, endive, mesclun, arugula, romaine lettuce. The only lettuce leaves you should only wash just before serving is iceberg lettuce. Since iceberg is mainly made of water, you'll keep it crispy and avoid that brown discoloration.
Cuisinart Salad Spinner
Fill your sink or a big plastic tub with ice cold water. Inspect the outer leaves for damage and separate the lettuce leaves before tossing them into the water. Move the lettuce around gently to get any dirt off and drain in a colander. Then, in small batches, thoroughly dry in a salad spinner. If you don't have a salad spinner, there are some good-looking ones on Amazon. Plus, kids love using salad spinners.
How To Store Lettuce
Transfer your dry lettuce into a plastic container or Ziploc bag with extra paper towels inside. Lettuce can never be too dry when stored. But make sure there's still air circulation in the bag between the leaves.
Pro Tip: Storing your lettuce in the crisper drawer of the fridge is ideal. But keep it away from fruits that release ethylene gas like apples, bananas, apricots, and pears. The natural gas (especially in apples!) speeds up the ripening process.
A quick ice water bath, even for lettuce that has already been prewashed, may perk up the leaves if needed. But watch out for slime and excess moisture.
A Weird Pro Tip: Extend the shelf life of your stored lettuce by breathing into your storage bag of lettuce! That's right, blowing some of your personal carbon dioxide will slow down the rotting process.
You can keep shredded or cut lettuce for about a week in a storage container in the refrigerator if you follow all these tips we've discussed. A whole head of lettuce will last about three weeks.
READ: What Is Pink Lettuce?
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