Fresh produce is an important part of many of our diets, with leafy greens being no exception. We use greens in an abundance of dishes, for everything from salads to sandwiches. Sometimes there’s nothing more delicious than fresh lettuce, like the lush hydronic lettuce grown in our greenhouse adjacent to our Belleville Country Store. This lettuce can stay fresh for up to two weeks if kept in a bowl of fresh water!
Sometimes though, you don’t get to use all of your lettuce before it starts to wilt or go bad, especially if it’s standard lettuce bought at a grocery store. But does it have to go bad so quickly? You can absolutely extend lettuce’s lifespan and enjoy it for a bit more time. Here’s how to keep your lettuce fresh, longer.
Why Does Lettuce Go Bad?
In order to understand how to keep lettuce fresh, first we need to answer why lettuce goes bad in the first place. Lettuce, spinach, kale and other leafy greens (including a lot of herbs as well) are very good at attracting moisture, and while the mist at the grocery store might help those greens from drying out when you find them in an aisle, the same isn’t true for your refrigerator. Because of the seal on your refrigerator door, there is less air circulation, allowing for condensation and additional moisture to form on your greens.
This moisture attracts bacteria and other contaminants throughout their life cycle, and bacteria love damp environments, allowing them to thrive in your fridge. This means that one answer for how to keep your romaine lettuce fresh – or whatever variety you have – is to simply make sure that it’s dry when you place it in the fridge.
How to Keep Your Lettuce Dry
While you might be familiar with fancier methods of drying out your greens (like salad spinners, for example), not all of us have one of those on hand. Fortunately, there are plenty of methods for keeping your lettuce dry that only rely on a couple easy-to-find things – most of all, paper towel. Here are some easy ways to keep moisture off of your greens.
1. Dry your lettuce before placing it in the fridge. Before you store your lettuce, dry it off completely to avoid moisture from condensing in the fridge to begin with. This can be done by rolling out a section of paper towel and placing your greens on top, ideally in a single layer. Using another piece of paper towel, pat the lettuce dry and allow it to sit for 10 minutes to dry off any remaining moisture.
- If you store your lettuce in a plastic container, add a piece of paper towel to the bottom before placing it in the fridge. This is also true for store-bought clamshells – you can add a piece of paper towel to the top of the container, flip it and store it with ease.
- If you store your lettuce without plastic, consider storing it in an additional paper towel. Ideally, this paper towel should be slightly damp to not allow the greens to dry out too much. This can be achieved by spritzing a piece of paper towel with a spray bottle. Wrap your greens in the paper towel and store them in the crisper drawer.
With these methods, you can hopefully keep your lettuce looking green and healthy for longer than usual. Enjoy your salads, sandwiches and other dishes with lettuce whenever you want them, at any time of year.