How to preserve lettuce

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “how to preserve lettuce” and discuss the different methods of preserving lettuce.

How to preserve lettuce

Lettuce can be preserved by :

  • Refrigerating
  • Freezing

Lettuce is a very common left green used in many salads. Lettuce is very susceptible to spoilage through wilting, bruising and yellowing.

How to clean lettuce for preservation

Lettuce grows close to the ground so there are a lot of contaminants such as soil, insects. Therefore, fresh lettuce must be properly cleaned and washed before storage. 

Fresh lettuce must be cleaned as soon as possible after purchase. There are also cleaned, packaged and pre-cut lettuce available in convenience stores. It is not necessary to wash packaged lettuce unless specified by the seller.

To clean lettuce :

  • Remove any yellow, wilted and bruised leaves. Mostly the outer leaves will be damaged, so remove those. Also, keep a lookout for insects hiding in between the layers of leaves. 
  • Wash the lettuce in cold running water. If you observe insects among the leaves, it is better to immerse the lettuce in cold water with a teaspoon of salt added. This will help to remove the insects.
  • Use a paper towel or a salad spinner to remove the water.

How to preserve lettuce by refrigerating

Refrigerating is the easiest way to preserve lettuce. Cleaned lettuce can be refrigerated as follows:

  • Place the lettuce in a clean container or a plastic bag. 
  • You can refrigerate either the whole head of lettuce or individual leaves. 

The lettuce head can be wrapped in a damp paper towel. This provides enough moisture to prevent the leaves from wilting. If individual leaves are refrigerated, it is better to arrange the leaves in a container to prevent bruising.

  • Place the container or bag with the lettuce in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.

Lettuce can also be washed in vinegar before refrigerating.

To wash lettuce in vinegar solution :

  • Clean and remove the lettuce leaves from the head.
  • Place the lettuce leaves in a bowl.
  • Add one cup of vinegar to the bowl.
  • Add water to fill up the rest of the bowl.
  • Mix the lettuce leaves in the vinegar solution and let them soak for a few minutes.
  • Drain the solution, rinse and dry the lettuce leaves using a paper towel.
  • Place the lettuce leaves in an airtight bag and freeze them until needed.

Ethylene is a gas produced by certain fruits and vegetables as they ripen. Ethylene will cause the ethylene sensitive fruits and vegetables to ripen and rot prematurely.

Lettuce is sensitive to ethylene. It is important not to store ethylene producing fruits and vegetables such as apples, bananas, and tomatoes in the same refrigerator drawer as lettuce.

How to preserve lettuce by freezing

Lettuce can also be preserved by freezing. Freezing preserves lettuce for longer than refrigerating. However frozen lettuce is more likely to wilt and lose its crispiness. This is caused by the formation of ice crystals within the plant cells which ruptures the cell walls. 

If you are planning to preserve lettuce for a dish where texture is important such as a salad, it is better to refrigerate the lettuce than freeze.

Lettuce can be either frozen as whole leaves or puree. More about freezing lettuce can be found here.

To freeze lettuce leaves:

  • Clean, wash and dry lettuce leaves using a paper towel.
  • Place the leaves in an airtight bag.
  • Freeze the leaves until needed.

Frozen whole lettuce leaves must be thawed in the refrigerator overnight before being used. Whole frozen leaves can be added to casseroles, quiches and can also be used as wraps.

To freeze lettuce puree :

  • Clean, wash and dry lettuce leaves using a paper towel.
  • Puree the lettuce leaves.
  • Pour the puree into a clean container or ice cube trays.
  • Freeze the puree until needed.

Frozen lettuce puree can be added to juices and smoothies.

Shelf-life of preserved lettuce

  • Refrigerating: If a whole head of lettuce is refrigerated, it will last for about 2 weeks. Individual lettuce leaves can be refrigerated for a maximum of 10 days.
  • Freezing: Frozen lettuce must be used within 6 months for the best flavor and quality.

How to freshen up wilted lettuce

Since lettuce is very susceptible to wilting and bruising, it is common to observe some wilting no matter the preservation technique. Slightly wilted lettuce can be easily freshened up by immersing in ice water for a few minutes. This will bring back crispiness to the leaves.

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the question “how to preserve lettuce” and discussed the different methods used to preserve lettuce. We also looked at the shelf-lives of lettuce preserved in different ways and how to freshen up wilted lettuce.

If you have any comments, please let us know.

References

https://www.momables.com/how-to-store-lettuce-in-fridge/
https://www.hgtv.com/outdoors/gardens/garden-to-table/can-you-freeze-lettuce

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.