The Best Ways To Keep Lettuce Fresh

Sometimes it seems like salads made in restaurants are just so much better than the ones made at home. But if you have tried your best to recreate your favorite salad order and find that your own is still falling short, it might be because of limp or bruised lettuce. To have deliciously crisp, cold lettuce, you need to store it properly before dressing it. After all, there's probably reason why your lettuce is turning red or it's going bad too quickly.

Though there are several methods that will keep lettuce fresh for longer, there are a few tips to always keep in mind. Lettuces generally need enough air and moisture to stay fresh, but some also store better after being rinsed. According to Hitchcock Farms, romaine can be rinsed or not without causing much trouble either way, but iceberg lettuce should never be washed before it is stored. Otherwise, you can follow several different techniques to keep your lettuce as fresh as possible for as long as possible.

Original packaging

If you're not trying to save lettuces that you've grown yourself, then storing them can actually be very easy. Because lettuce and other kinds of salad mixes need enough moisture and air to stay fresh, all you really need to do is use the original packaging or bag that the lettuce came in (via Hitchcock Farms). And by using two simple techniques, you can avoid the dreaded slimy brown leaves of lettuce that have turned sour.

To store lettuce in the original packaging, the primary thing you need to do is just open the top of the bag. This will retain enough moisture for the lettuce as well as give it some airflow to keep the produce good. Another helpful tip for keeping lettuce fresh inside its bag is to blow on it. According to Hitchcock Farms, the carbon dioxide you breathe out will slow the process of ripening in lettuce. While it might sound unusual, it's a tip worth trying. Don't forget to store the bagged lettuce in your crisper drawer. too.

Refrigerated on a plate

Another way to keep lettuce fresh without risking low airflow is prepping it and storing it on a plate in the fridge. Whether you are storing lettuces you grew yourself or you have bunches of romaine or iceberg heads from the grocery store, this method will keep them as fresh as possible. According to The Spruce Eats, lettuce will easily stay fresh and crisp for up to a week using this method. It does, however, require slightly more work.

To store lettuce this way, start by trimming the stem off and separating the leaves if using a whole head. Otherwise, go ahead and wash the lettuce and dry it very well before placing it in the fridge. Use a plate or a colander to ensure plenty of air can get to the lettuce leaves. Keep in mind that a bowl will not give the lettuce the airflow it needs. But avoid crowding the leaves to really give the lettuce the airflow it requires to stay crisp.

Stored in a resealable container

If you have delicate salad greens or lettuces such as arugula, spinach, or even a baby spring mix, they might need more coverage to prevent getting damaged or too dry in the fridge, according to Hitchcock Farms. Those who love to keep buttercrunch lettuce or small bunches of young artisan lettuces can also benefit from this storage method. But if you store them correctly, these tender lettuces and leaves can stay fresh for longer.

To store lettuces that are more susceptible to bruising, start by layering the loose leaves between layers of paper towels (via The Kitchn). Once they have been dispersed between cushioning and insulating paper towels, the produce should be placed in a resealable container that will shield it well. That means something with more structure is better than a flexible bag. Once again, the lettuces should be kept in the crisper drawer in the fridge for the best air and humidity control.

Wrapped in paper towels

To keep lettuces good for up to 10 days, turn to paper towels. According to Hitchcock Farms, providing lettuce with extra protection should help them stay fresh for this longer stretch of time. However, you might need to try to revive or liven up the lettuce leaves again once you are ready to use them for a cold, crisp crunch that makes lettuce so good.

To store lettuce for a longer period, start with clean, dry leaves and roll them up as tightly as possible in paper towels without crushing or pinching the leaves, per The Kitchn. Next, place the paper towel-covered lettuce inside a resealable bag. Proceed to press as much air out of the bag as possible. Store it in the crisper drawer. Though it might sound counterintuitive to the other methods, this technique should help extend the shelf life of your lettuce.

Whichever method best suits your needs and abilities, remember to keep lettuce in the crisper drawer and away from fruits that give off ethylene gas, such as apples or bananas (via Eat This, Not That!). The gas will cause lettuce to ripen more quickly, so give the lettuce plenty of room to breathe. All of these tips will help to prevent serving wilted greens.