Fresh and crispy lettuce tastes great in salads, sandwiches and wraps, but it seems that no matter how fresh salad greens look when you buy them, they never last more than a few days at home. The good news is that with a few simple storage tips you’ll be able to keep your lettuce crisp and delicious for a week or more. Read on to learn how you can store salad greens so they last longer.
The moment you’re home, remove any outer leaves that look damaged. For loose-leaf lettuce (and greens), pick through the bag and remove any leaves that are wilted, damp or slimy. This will help the greens stay fresh.
If you’re not using the whole lettuce up at once, save the washing and chopping for later and only pluck off the outer leaves as you need them. Head lettuce, like cos or iceberg, will last one to three weeks in the fridge if left intact and unwashed. A good tip is to store the lettuce in the crisper drawer in your fridge with some paper towels (they’ll absorb any excess moisture).
Unlike head lettuce, loose lettuce leaves only last seven to 10 days in the fridge when properly stored. First things first, wash your lettuce and remove any damaged leaves. Then dry your lettuce thoroughly — a salad spinner works great for this. If you don’t have one, gently pat the lettuce dry with a paper towel. Wrap the lettuce in a dry paper towel and place it in a plastic bag.
An alternative option includes lining a plastic container with paper towels, dumping the lettuce in an even layer on top, and covering it with another layer of paper towels before locking down the lid. Check your lettuce every day or two, and remove any leaves that are starting to wilt. It’s also worth replacing the paper towel anytime it feels especially wet.
Any fruit that has high ethylene, think pears, avocados, and apples, will cause your lettuce to wilt. Ethylene is a natural plant hormone released in the form of gas which triggers the ripening process in most fruits. The gas will cause other produce, like lettuce, to age prematurely.
If your lettuce starts to wilt, crisp it up by soaking it in ice water for a few minutes. Then gently remove from the ice bath and pat dry as you normally would.