Crisp lettuce, juicy tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers, flavourful bacon bits, seasoned croutons, and tangy salad dressing. This salad sounds delicious and is an inexpensive way to stretch your lunch or dinner. Salads are enjoyable, but why not extend the life of the salad by preparing and storing it properly? If it isn’t prepared and stored properly, it won’t last very long and will end up stinky and nasty looking. Here are some tips for keeping your salad fresh longer.
First, you need to prepare the lettuce. Wash the lettuce under cold water. After washing the lettuce, you need to dry it. You can dry it more efficiently if you use a salad spinner. The salad spinner has a handle you pump, which causes the inside bowl to spin, removing excess water from the lettuce. Once it is washed and spun, you can either tear it up by hand or cut with a plastic knife. Cutting with a metal knife will cause the lettuce to brown more quickly.
Use only the amount of lettuce you need for the salad you are going to eat at this point. You do not want to store the lettuce with tomatoes, croutons, dressing, and other wet ingredients (i.e. your salad put together). These wet items will cause the lettuce to wilt and become stringy and slimy (not a pleasant sight for lettuce).
Store lettuce properly. Store your dried lettuce in a sealed plastic bag, lined with a paper towel. Be sure to squeeze out all excess air, sealing it tightly shut. You can also seal the lettuce in a plastic container. It is helpful to store the lettuce in a vegetable crisper in the refrigerator. Do not store the lettuce with cut-up tomatoes, cucumbers, croutons, olives, beans (i.e. garbanzo beans, kidney beans, black beans), or salad dressing. It is best to store the lettuce by itself. The moisture from these ingredients will cause the lettuce to become wilted and soggy. If using salad dressing, wait to apply to the salad until right before it is to be eaten.
Use a vacuum sealer machine and bags if one is available to you. With the vacuum seal, the excess air is sucked out and creates a freshness seal which will keep your lettuce lasting longer. However, do not store lettuce any longer than five days in the refrigerator, to prevent food poisoning. Most lettuces will last in the refrigerator for three to five days when storing them.
Store toppings in a sealed plastic container. When you get ready to serve leftover salad, add the toppings and dressing. The lettuce and toppings will be fresh and will maintain their own flavours.
When cutting with a knife, use a plastic knife instead of a metal knife, or tear the leaves by hand.
Store lettuce in the refrigerator for up to 5 days to avoid any chances of food poisoning.