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You love mastering new recipes, but do you still wonder how to prevent lettuce from turning brown? How often have you tossed out fresh produce that wilted before its time? If you’re like most home chefs, figuring out how to keep lettuce fresh is a constant kitchen challenge.
The leafy vegetable definitely earns its place at the table. It’s a versatile ingredient in salads, sides and entrees. It’s crisp and delicious and puts plenty of healthy nutrition on the plate. Let’s look at ways to keep lettuce fresher longer.
10 Tips on How to Keep Lettuce Fresh in the Fridge
There’s more than one way to preserve fresh, crisp lettuce, and that’s good news for the home kitchen. Some methods work for all types of leafy vegetables while others are specific to one variety. There are a few general produce rules to follow too. We offer this overview as your guide to keeping lettuce fresh and ready for favorite recipes.
1. All Lettuce Belongs in the Fridge
The chill inside your refrigerator slows down the natural processes that ripen vegetables. The enclosed environment also reduces the growth of microorganisms that can damage fresh produce. Always put lettuce in the fridge as soon as it comes home from the store.
2. Crisper Drawers Are Best
This handy fridge drawer earns its name by maintaining ideal moisture levels for vegetables. Most modern refrigerators feature crisper drawers with adjustable humidity settings. Keep it high for lettuce, and don’t crowd the produce. Leafy greens need room to breathe.
3. Wash or Don’t Wash Romaine Lettuce
If you’re in a hurry, fresh romaine can be stored unwashed in a loosely closed plastic bag. If you prefer to wash it before putting it away, separate leaves from the heart. After a gentle rinse, pat the romaine dry, tightly seal in a plastic bag, and store in the crisper drawer.
4. Don’t Wash Iceberg Lettuce
Whether it’s butterhead or baby iceberg, don’t wash this type of leafy lettuce before storing it in the fridge. Its high water content keeps it crisp, but external moisture can make leaves wilt. Baby iceberg lettuce keeps for up to a week in a perforated plastic bag.
5. Let Bagged Greens Breathe
Bagged lettuce, spinach and chard salads are a good example of crispy combinations with a high water content. These pre-mixed salad greens and bagged shredded lettuce last longer if you cut the top off the product’s packaging and leave it open in the crisper drawer.
6. Keep Produce Fresh by Puffing
Extend lettuce life with a simple version of a preservation technique used in the produce industry. Open the lettuce bag, blow into it until it’s puffed up, and then twist and secure the top with a rubber band. The carbon dioxide in your breath slows down the ripening process.
7. Protect Tender Greens With Plastic
Salad storage containers are ideal for mesclun mixes because they help protect tender endive, watercress and arugula in the crisper drawer. Keep delicate greens from bruising and drying out by layering their leaves between paper towels nested in plastic storage containers.
8. Wrap Up Shredded Lettuce
How long is shredded lettuce good for your best tacos and quesadillas? It keeps for two or three days if you dry it and wrap it up. Spread freshly chopped or shredded lettuce over a clean kitchen towel, roll it up, and secure your homemade package with rubber bands.
9. Pack Lettuce in Paper Towels
Grab a few paper towels, and you’re ready for another easy trick that preserves lettuce for a long time. Lay out clean, dried leaves on paper towels. Carefully fold and roll, and place in a plastic bag. Press out any air, seal tight, and store in the crisper drawer for a week to 10 days.
10. Separate Fruits and Veggies
It’s best to keep lettuce and fruits in separate drawers. Most harvested fruits release ethylene gas that causes leafy greens to ripen too quickly. Keep papayas, peaches and cantaloupes away from fresh lettuce, and don’t forget the tomatoes. The round, red beauties really are fruits, not veggies.
Proud to Do Our Part
From topping grilled burgers and crafting perfect Caesar salads to wrapping classic Asian hand rolls, lettuce serves up all kinds of fresh goodness. Use our tips to preserve your leafy greens’ peak flavors and textures, and enjoy them in favorite recipes year-round.
Whether you’re cooking for two at the house or running a busy commercial kitchen, you can count on the nation’s produce growers to keep your pantries, walk-ins and refrigerators stocked with the best. Here at Hitchcock Farms, we’re proud to do our part.