Crisp, crunchy lettuce every time? Yes, it’s possible!
Soggy, slimy and wilted leaves don’t have to be part of your lettuce experience. Here are a few tips on how to keep your lettuce crispy and delicious for a week, or longer.
Bacteria, bugs, dirt and pesticides are just a few of the things that can be found on lettuce leaves. The best way to remove these is by washing them right off.
It’s best to wash lettuce right when you get home from the store so you don’t forget. To wash lettuce, start with picking through the bag and removing leaves that are damaged, wilted, damp or slimy. For head lettuce, remove outer leaves that look damaged. This limits moisture that may be left behind, extending the life of the rest of the leaves. Then, lightly rinse under water, and gently pad with a towel, or ideally use a salad spinner to remove excess water from the leaves.
Should you wash pre-washed lettuce? To be on the safe side, yes. Even if lettuce is pre-washed, it doesn’t mean it’s 100% germ or dirt-free every time.
Lettuce needs moisture and airflow to stay crisp, but too much can cause sad, wilted leaves. Storing lettuce as a full head or individual leaves depends on how long you’d like to store it.
Keeping a full head of lettuce is as simple as wrapping it in a damp paper towel and placing this inside a plastic bag, in the fridge.
To store individual lettuce leaves, spin these dry after washing and place them in a lettuce keeper in the fridge. A container is best as it avoids bruising and bacteria buildup. A plastic bag also works so long as you keep a corner open for airflow, or the leaves can be kept stemless and wrapped in a wet paper towel in the crisper drawer. Make sure to add a few paper towels to absorb excess moisture and replace the paper towels every few days if they get too damp.
Even if everything is done right, lettuce may still wilt a bit. If so, crisp it up by soaking in ice water for a few minutes. Then, spin dry as you normally would. This works well for slightly wilted lettuce.
Keep lettuce away from ethylene fruits (like pears, avocados, apples and tomatoes) because they release gas as they ripen, which causes other close-by produce to age prematurely.
Can lettuce last long?
How long lettuce lasts depends on how it’s stored and which type of lettuce it is. Loose leaf lettuce can last seven to ten days when properly stored, and head lettuce can last much longer – left intact and unwashed, from one to three weeks in the fridge. In comparison to other leafy greens, lettuce is the shelf life champion.
If you’re looking to keep your lettuce for even longer, consider freezing it. Yes, you can freeze lettuce.
Freezing thicker lettuces is best, like romaine or butterhead. When frozen though, lettuce does tend to lose some of its crispness and flavour, so it’s best to freeze lettuce for smoothies, soups and stews. Keep fresh leaves for recipes like salads. The same goes for other leafy greens like spinach and kale.
Full lettuces can be frozen by separating and rinsing off the leaves and dabbing excess water off with a paper towel. Then, place these in an air-tight freezer bag.
For liquid recipes like smoothies and soups, purée the leaves and freeze these in ice cube trays.
Lettuce can be frozen for up to 6 months.