Keeping Lettuce Fresh for an Extended Period of Time in Storage

Are you sick of wilting lettuce? If you take the time to properly prepare your lettuce when you first bring it home, it will keep for days, if not weeks.

Half of the lettuce I purchased previously went to waste instead of into my salad bowl. When I was a little less sluggish and learned how to properly prepare lettuce for storage, I discovered that it lasted much longer—in some cases, up to several weeks!

Here’s how to do it yourself, filling your stomach rather than your garbage can.

Potential enemies of lettuce

Lettuce rots for a couple of main reasons: oxygen and too much moisture. If you remove as much moisture as possible from your lettuce and properly seal the container, you may be pleasantly surprised by how long it keeps without spoiling.

Buy Fresh Lettuce

Buy only crisp, recently harvested lettuce. If the lettuce looks weary and discolored or has slimy areas, it’s not fresh and you shouldn’t buy it. If you buy lettuce in a bag or container, check the bottom as well because that’s where the leaves tend to go slimy first.

Loose heads of lettuce at supermarket stores get sprayed down with water every so often. It’s not uncommon to select a head and find that it’s drenched with water. Wrap the lettuce in several layers of paper towels if available at your grocery shop. Farmer’s market lettuce is typically much crisper and drier than supermarket lettuce.

Prep Lettuce for Storage

Keep lettuce dry and it will keep for days. You need to take care of the lettuce as soon as you arrive home from the store if you want this to work. Avoid the urge to store your lettuce directly from the grocery bag to the crisper drawer.

When you get it home, separate the leaves and remove any twist ties or rubber bands that could damage the lettuce. Lettuce should be wrapped in paper towels or thin kitchen towels. (Flour sack towels are perfect for this!) To keep the lettuce fresh for longer, place it in a dry plastic bag, squeeze out as much air as possible, and seal the bag. Reduced oxygen levels hasten the decaying process. Try using reusable cloth produce bags as an alternative to disposable plastic ones.

Pre-packaged lettuce in a plastic container or bag eliminates the need for most preparation. These sealed packages help prevent spoilage since they contain inert gas.

Store Lettuce in the Fridge

Lettuce should be stored in a crisper drawer, ideally one with a higher humidity setting.

Apples, peaches, melons, and tomatoes all emit ethylene, hastening their own maturity at the expense of the lettuce in the garden. If you can help it, don’t put your fruit in the same drawer as your lettuce.

How to Refresh Wilted Lettuce

When lettuce is stored for an extended period of time, it can lose moisture and wilt. If it’s worn out but not slimy, a dip in cold water or ice water will do the trick.

Pick off any leaves that seem wilted. Put the lettuce in water for at least half an hour, and up to an hour. Ensure proper drainage and drying.

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