Storing Lettuce for a Week (or Three)

Hands up. Who's been tossing lettuce because the edges turn brown and it starts getting slimy? Spoiled food is never easy on the heart or the pocketbook.

Learn my sure-fire method of storing lettuce and other greens for the long haul. It also works with herbs.

First off, start with a clean tea towel. My preference is to use a flour sack towel which is much larger with a bit looser weave than the standard kitchen tea towel.

Wet the towel completely and then wring out as much water as possible. Really twist and turn squeezing out all the excess. Spread it out flat on the counter. No worries if the towel drapes over the edge a few inches. Grab your lettuce and give that a good wash, as well.

Ideally, start with fresh lettuce; however, even lettuce that's starting to age can be saved for a few more meals.

Chop or tear lettuce into bite-size pieces. Spread evenly over towel, leaving four to five inches around all sides. Adjust the towel if draped off the counter too far.

Don't pile the lettuce too high. In this photo, it's probably two inches thick. Here's the key: layer it thin enough that all pieces of lettuce touch the towel - or as many as possible. They can touch on the bottom or the top. Don't get too technical with it. Read on and you'll figure it out.

Let's get this package rolled and ready for the fridge.

Fold in the sides. Start with the long sides and then pull up one of the ends. Either end. It doesn't matter. Both should have a few inches of open space with no lettuce. Now we start rolling.

Form a firm roll without being too tight or too loose. Too tight and the lettuce is crunched which leads to brown spots which leads to slime and decay (defeating the entire exercise). Too loose and the towel can't do it's job. As you roll, adjust the long side so it stays straight. In this photo, you'll notice the left side starting to buckle. I'll just tuck it underneath the roll in the center and carry on.

Finished! Store in the crisper drawer for fresh lettuce anytime. You'll have to fold it to fit the drawer, but that won't hurt anything. My rolls are usually nested along one side of the drawer and then turned along the back. Don't try to fold it in half. The size of the roll probably won't let you, but it will also damage lettuce at the fold. A gentle 90 degree fold works fine. It consumes 1/4 to 1/3 of the drawer leaving room for other items.

Try leaving lettuce pieces whole for sandwiches.

Spread out in a single layer. Fold and roll as directed. Store in the crisper.

When I arrange the pieces, I try to align them on side of the towel so that the inner most ends are straight. This give me a natural place to fold the towel in the drawer, if necessary, without damaging the lettuce. Note the pieces on the far left, inside edge. It's not perfect, but it works.

Every time you need a salad, unroll part of the bundle and pull out what you need. Straighten edges of the towel, re-roll and place back in the fridge.

The best part? The towel stays moist & the lettuce crisp. Enjoy lettuce for at least two weeks - sometimes three!

Share your experiences with this trick. Let me know if you try it with other greens & herbs, too.