We know what a disappointment it is to have lettuce go bad before you can use it. That’s why we’re sharing our best tips for how to store lettuce so it lasts.
Lettuce is a core ingredient for everything from salads to sandwiches – just check out all the delicious head lettuce recipes we’re sharing. But it has a notoriously short shelf life when compared with other leafy vegetables.
That begs the question, what should you do when you’re trying to get the most life out of your head of lettuce? What are some of the best ways to store lettuce and keep it fresh for the maximum amount of time?
There are many easy and useful steps that you can take to keep your lettuce around for longer and we’re sharing our top five.
Store Head Lettuce In Plastic
Large zip-top bags are perfect for storing lettuce. You never want to just pop your lettuce into the fridge uncovered. Plastic makes a perfect shield for lettuce. That’s why so many varieties now come in resealable packages.
Bags aren’t the only safe plastic to store lettuce in, but I’ve found them to be the most convenient. You can also use a hard plastic container or even a salad spinner. But if you’re going to be using a bag, make sure you press out most of the air before sealing it. However, it’s important to remember that while you’re doing this, you should be careful not to bruise the leaves.
Remember, air is the enemy of freshness but it’s not without its use. A completely airless environment may negatively impact the lettuce’s flavor, so keep a little bit of air in there.
Remove The Core Before Storing
You know the hard white core at the base of romaine or iceberg lettuce? You don’t need that and the lettuce will actually last a lot longer without it. Lop it off with a knife or just pound it against a cutting board firmly and twist it off by hand.
If you’re using butter lettuce or any kind of tender loose leaf variety, skip this step. You don’t want to remove the stem from those.
Exhale Some CO2
Ok, go with me here… If you breathe into a bag of stored cut lettuce you can actually increase its shelf life.
When we exhale, we push out carbon dioxide, which is a plant’s oxygen. Being bombarded with CO2 is one of the best ways to reduce leaf browning in lettuce. This won’t work for whole heads of lettuce but it’s effective for loose cut leaves.
Of course, don’t go breathing into communal lettuce you’re making for the entire family. Do this only for lettuce that you’re personally eating. Don’t be gross.
Wrap Lettuce in Paper Towels
Placing lettuce between two paper towels is a great way to keep it fresh for a longer period of time.
Why, you ask?
The paper towels absorb some of the lettuce’s excess water, keeping it in the sweet spot for moisture.
If you notice that the lettuce is very wet, squeeze it out a bit without bruising the leaves. Alternatively, if the lettuce is bone dry, moisten the towels slightly.
My favorite way to do this paper-towel-lettuce thing is to get one of the clear plastic boxes that lettuce is sometimes sold in and line the bottom with paper towel. Then I add in the lettuce and put more paper towel on top before attaching the lid. The lettuce keeps so much longer than normal!
Use The Crisper Drawer!
The crisper drawer is the coldest section of your refrigerator, and you can usually keep lettuce fresh in there for up to a week or longer. However, make sure it’s not squeezed in with other foods that can bruise the leaves.
Also, keep your lettuce away from tomatoes, pears, and apples. These fruits release ethylene gas which can spoil lettuce faster.
How do you keep your lettuce fresh?
What’s your favorite method of keeping lettuce fresh? How long does it typically last in your refrigerator? Sound off in the comment section and let us know.
This post originally appeared in May 2019 and was revised and republished in January 2023.