Are you looking to cut your food waste? Here are my top tried and tested plastic-free tips on how to store lettuce so that it romaines fresher for longer. Yes, this article contains lettuce puns of a similar calibre – you have been warned!
Did you know that here in the UK we throw away 40% of the bagged salad we buy every year? This works out to around 37,000 tonnes – the equivalent of 178 million bags – of lettuce being discarded year on year. According to research, this waste stems from the fact that shoppers do not always buy bagged salads with a specific meal in mind. This then, in many cases, leads to these bags of lettuce being forgotten about and then binned.
I’ve been blogging for years now about food waste. And for good reason. When food is wasted, the energy and water it takes to grow, harvest, transport, and package that food is wasted too. And if food isn’t composted, it goes to landfill. Here it produces methane – a greenhouse gas with 21 times more warming potential than carbon dioxide.
I think that the Government and supermarkets have the biggest responsibility when it comes to tackling food waste. However, that’s not to say that we as individuals shouldn’t take responsibility for our own food waste. Reducing our food waste also saves money too, so it’s very much a win-win. Luckily, there are lots of tips and techniques on proper food storage that can prolong the life of our food. Like lettuce leaves, for example. Lettuce take a look!
How To Store Lettuce To Keep It Fresher for Longer
Let’s chat through the three main ways to store lettuce, to keep it fresher for longer. For extra eco brownie points, all of these methods are plastic-free.
The Tea Towel Method
One of the first ways to make your lettuce last longer is what I refer to as the tea towel method.
First, pick out any slimy leaves and compost them. Then give the remaining leaves a good wash. You don’t have to wash the leaves, but I find it a hundred times more convenient knowing that the lettuce leaves are ready to be used straight away.
Next, dry the leaves off as best as you can, either with a salad spinner or a tea towel. I know some people use kitchen roll for this purpose, but a clean tea towel works really well.
Now, get another clean dry tea towel and spread your lettuce greens out on it. Then gently roll up the towel, like you would roll a Swiss Roll, and store the lettuce (towel and all) in the bottom drawer of your fridge. This method works because the towel absorbs any excess moisture, keeping the lettuce fresher for longer. I found lettuce stores for around a week using this method. You can also store bagged salad using this method.
The Jar Method
Another great way that I’ve found to store lettuce is to store it in a jar in your fridge.
Take a large clean and dry lidded jar, and again, pick out and compost any slimy leaves from your lettuce.
Next, wash the remaining lettuce, and dry it using a salad spinner or tea towel to remove as much water as possible. Then chop or tear the lettuce leaves up into whatever size you prefer. Finally, pop the dry leaves in the jar. Pop the lid on, and place it in your fridge. Your lettuce should keep for a week. Again, bagged salad can also be stored using this method.
There is a bit of a lettuce myth going around. Some people say a torn lettuce leaf lasts longer in the fridge, compared to a cut lettuce leaf. The rationale behind this is that, when you tear a lettuce, it tears along the natural seams of the lettuce. This damages fewer cells, limiting their exposure to oxygen. In theory, cutting the leaves damages more cells, increases their oxygen exposure, and makes the leaves brown quicker. I personally don’t find tearing or chopping makes a difference – but proper storage definitely does.
The Cup of Water Method for Storing Lettuce
If you have a whole head of lettuce, then much like storing spring onions, it’s a good idea to store a whole head of lettuce in a cup or bowl of water to keep your lettuce fresher for longer.
Simply slice a tiny amount off the end of the lettuce, and then pop the lettuce into a cup of water (end side down) until you are ready to use the lettuce. Not only will your lettuce stay fresh, but it may also continue to grow. Store it in the fridge or on your countertop – wherever you have the most space. Don’t forget to change the water when it goes cloudy, or top up the water when needed.
How to Revive Limp Lettuce
You’ve followed all the tips on storing lettuce, but you accidentally forgot about your lettuce, and now the leaves have gone limp? It’s ok, it happens! If the leaves haven’t gone slimy, and are just a little wilted, then it’s really easy to revive limp lettuce.
Simply get a bowl of icy cold water, and submerge your lettuce leaves. Leave them in there for up to around 20 minutes to rehydrate. Next, remove the leaves from the water and allow them to drain. Alternatively, spin the leaves in a salad spinner to remove excess water. Then serve or store as above.
PS: as an additional tip, did you know that you can regrow lettuce? Kitchen wizardry at its finest!