How to keep lettuce fresh longer: guide for heads or loose leaves

how to keep lettuce fresh longer

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Outlines the best strategies for how to keep lettuce fresh longer, as a head or loose leaves, including what fruit and vegetables you should not let it be near!

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Limp leaf lettuce in the refrigerator is really annoying. And all too often the salad ends up in the bin instead of on the plate. That doesn’t have to be the case. 

How to pick lettuce in the shop

The shelf life of the lettuce starts with the purchase. You should always buy it fresh and as needed, as it not only wilts quickly, but also breaks down a high proportion of its valuable ingredients within a very short time. In addition, if possible, you should prefer seasonal and regional lettuce, as this has shorter transport routes behind it and therefore there is less loss of nutrients.

When buying the lettuce, you should make sure that the stalk of the head looks as bright and fresh as possible. If the cut surface has already turned brown, the lettuce is by no means spoiled, but it is probably a bit older. It should ideally be used immediately afterwards and no longer stored. He may already have been transported for a long time.

With seasonal salads from the region, the distances from the field to the supermarket to the kitchen are the shortest. With regard to the different types of lettuce, the following applies: the firmer the leaves, the longer the vegetables can be stored. Iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, frillice and radicchio keep for a relatively long time, while types of lettuce with soft leaves should be consumed as quickly as possible.

Keep your eyes peeled when shopping: Salads should not be lying next to vegetables and fruits that produce a lot of ripening gas. These include apple, pear, apricot, banana, mango, avocado, and tomato. Salads react to the ripening gas ethylene by yellowing, brown rust spots and withered leaves.

How to keep lettuce fresh longer

How to keep lettuce fresh in fridge

Store the salad in plastic packaging in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator. A head of lettuce can be kept for several days, and lettuce that has already been cut can be kept for two days.

Before you store the lettuce in the refrigerator, make sure the leaves are dry and remove any brown or rotten spots. Already washed lettuce should therefore be carefully drained or dried with a salad spinner before storage.

Use a ventilated bag or box

Put it in a ventilated plastic bag to protect the leaves from drying out. If you have already purchased the lettuce in plastic packaging with air holes, you can also store it in it.

How to keep bagged lettuce fresh

If you want to store prepared lettuce, you should wash it and spin dry. Then the salad is placed in a sealable plastic container without dressing and placed in the vegetable drawer. Prepared salad stays fresh in the refrigerator for two to three days.

For fresh bagged lettuce it also helps to put the loose leaves in a foil bag with small holes or in plastic boxes in the refrigerator. But be careful: once the lettuce leaves have been washed, they won’t hold up as well. Then it is best to put them in a plastic box while they are still wet. They usually keep in the refrigerator for a few days.

Be careful with tightly sealed plastic bags

Tightly sealed plastic bags can literally suffocate the salad because they lock in the moisture: This creates a good development climate for microorganisms that can spoil the salad within a short time. For this reason, welded ready-made salads are particularly sensitive and should always be washed before eating. Cooling without interruption is the top priority here, as germs multiply quickly when the leaves warm up. Once the printed use-by date has expired, ready-made salads should no longer be consumed.

The damp cloth method

First of all, it helps to wrap the lettuce in a damp cloth. This will keep it fresh for about a day or two longer.  Leaf lettuce particularly stays fresh longer when it’s moist. To do this, wrap the lettuce in a damp cloth. 

Add vinegar or lemon juuice

But it lasts even longer with a second ingredient in the water. To slow down the ripening process, you can sprinkle a few drops of lemon juice or vinegar on a damp cloth, or soak a cloth in water with a dash of vinegar or lemon juice diluted in. If the lettuce is wrapped in it, this prevents withering and loss of nutrients.

Paper towel method

You can prevent lettuce going limp (if you have not washed it) by adding a piece of kitchen paper towel: Simply put the kitchen paper in the salad bowl or in the bag. The lettuce should lie on the kitchen paper. If moisture collects on the salad over the course of the hours and days, most of it will be absorbed by the kitchen paper. The salad stays fresh longer.

How to store different types

Ready-made (welded) mixed salads

The large surface and the many cut surfaces make ready-made mixed salads a real magnet for bacteria. In short, ready-made salads are extremely sensitive. Our advice on storage (and consumption):

  • Permanent cooling
  • only store for a short time
  • Adhere to the use-by date
  • wash before consuming
Iceberg lettuce

Iceberg lettuce is made up of strong leaves that are less sensitive. We recommend the following:

  • wrap in a damp cloth
  • Place in the vegetable drawer in the refrigerator

This way the salad stays fresh for several days. The same applies to romaine, chicory and frillice.

Other lettuce types

Optimal storage for lettuce looks like this:

  • Cut the roots crosswise
  • put in a small bowl of water
  • Cover with foil (perforated)
  • place in the vegetable drawer
Romaine lettuce

Romaine lettuce and radicchio last for a week if you store them correctly:

  • Wrap in perforated foil or paper towel
  • Place in the vegetable drawer

Don’t ever store near ripening fruit or vegetables

In general, lettuce should always be stored in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator – whether as a whole head or just the cut leaves.

Under no circumstances should lettuce be stored in the immediate vicinity of ripening fruits such as apple, pear, apricot, banana, mango, avocado, and tomato. As we mentioned in the shopping section, they give off the ripening gas ethylene, which makes the lettuce leaves spoil faster.

Root ball lettuce

Salad with root balls is also increasingly being offered. In comparison, these lettuce plants last longer and should not be stored in the dark, i.e. not in the refrigerator, as they are living plants. The balled heads of lettuce can be harvested whole or gradually leaf by leaf and used fresh in the salad, as required. Make sure that the soil around the bales retains a slight amount of moisture to keep the salad fresh.