February 28th, 2008

On storing lettuce


Maybe I’m the only one having this problem. In the past two weeks, I’ve gotten lettuce in my CSA box. Last week, it was romaine, the week before I can’t remember. My lettuce arrives bright, green, crisp and full of dirt (which I personally don’t mind since to me it’s an indicator of freshness). But a few days in my refrigerator’s crisper and the poor thing wilts. So I asked Margie of Bee Heaven Farm for a few tips and thought I’d share them in case there are a few others struggling to keep their lettuce fresh. Here’s what she said:

“Regarding keeping lettuce crisp –

If it’s starting to wilt a bit, cut off a slice of the bottom stem. Take a paper towel and fold it several times into a small, thick square. Wet it thoroughly (dripping), and put it on the bottom of the cut stem. Put the lettuce in a plastic bag, taking care that the towel stays in contact with the cut stem.

Always store lettuce in a closed plastic bag, and don’t wash it until you’re ready to use it.”

So there.

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7 Responses to “On storing lettuce”

  1. I use a method which keeps my lettuce good for at least a week. I normally buy romaine lettuce, and as soon as I get home from the store I break the lettuce into pieces in the salad spinner, let it soak for a few minutes in VERY COLD water, and then spin it dry. When it’s very dry I put it into a large ziploc storage bag, squeeze out all the air (very important) and seal the bag. This method has worked for me for years.

    I could never manage if I had to wash the lettuce right when I’m using it. I’m often using it to pack for lunch at 7:00 A.M. and I’d never manage to wash the lettuce at that time!

  2. Thanks for the tip. I agree, washing it on the spot is a lot of work, especially when it’s early in the morning.

  3. One more two cents worth: I have noticed that my refrigerator tends to be too cold, and if I don’t put produce in a certain drawer, it begins to freeze, which does all sorts of things to delicate leaves. Check it, that might be part of the problem. It should keep at least for a week especially if it is fresh without a lot of other hocus-pocus. Good luck :)

  4. I use a method similar to Kalyn, but I add in a step of wrapping the washed lettuce in a clean kitchen towel before I put it in a plastic bag. I even do this with unwashed lettuce from the groc – I think it soaks up just enough of the water to keep the lettuce moist but not soggy.

  5. You can also try soaking certain lettuces in ice water briefly before serving. This really helps to crisp up the lettuce.

  6. I’ve been keeping my lettuce in a ziplock bag with a sheet of paper towel and all of the air sucked out. I have to do the soak and spin before using it (which means I never actually do), but it does keep well for over a week.

  7. I just buy spinach instead. Good for you and it keeps MUCH longer than lettuce. If I buy lettuce, its usually more like mixed greens which I eat asap to avoid having them go bad. That can be tough when you a single guy who travels a lot, another reason I stick with spinach. Plus, if spinach starts to get old you can always saute it in some olive oil.

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