Have you ever been ready to make a salad only to find your lettuce is wet and soggy? Storing lettuce correctly allows the vegetable to stay fresh and green for several days longer. Lettuce is the most widely planted salad vegetable and comes in five different types: leaf, romaine, crisphead, butterhead and stem. Lettuce is high in fiber and has other nutritional benefits. Lettuce makes a simple light meal or addition to a sandwich. Lettuce is primarily made up water—94.9 percent. The vegetable is best if eaten fresh as it doesn’t freeze or preserve well. Take a few extra steps to storing lettuce properly and all your salads will be fresh and crunchy.
Pick lettuce directly from the garden when ready to use it. Peel apart the leaves and rinse under cool running water. Avoid cutting with a knife, unless you are getting ready to serve it. Lettuce cut with a knife releases ascorbic acid oxidase. The chemical destroys vitamin C.
Place leaves in a cool bowl of water for additional cleansing. Swish the leaves in the water for about 30 seconds, suggests Start Cooking, a food and cooking website. Sand, dirt and debris will begin to float to the bottom of the bowl. Remove the leaves from the water. Blot the lettuce leaves dry with paper towels. The lettuce is now ready to pack for storage.
Roll leaves in paper towels loosely to store. Do not overlap leaves; one layer of leaves is fine. Place leaves in a large plastic bag. Recycled grocery bags also work well. Seal the bag well so air cannot enter the bag.
Set refrigerator at approximately 32 degrees with high humidity. Do not store near apples, bananas or pears, suggests the University of Illinois Horticulture Department. These fruits emit ethylene gas, which will rapidly decay the lettuce and turn the leaves brown. Keep lettuce on the top shelf, toward the back of the refrigerator. Lettuce will remain fresh for about five to six days when properly cleaned and stored.