Fresh lettuce may come out of the ground crisp and ready to eat, but with a nearly 95 percent water content, it can wilt in a matter of a few days without proper storage. If you have loose-leaf lettuce, you can pick healthy leaves and rinse them prior to using. However, if you are harvesting a whole head of mature, loose-leaf lettuce or are growing head lettuce, such as butterhead, romaine or iceberg, there are ways to maximize the freshness of lettuce.
Things You'll Need
Harvest the outer leaves of the loose-leaf lettuce or separate the leaves of the head lettuce you plan on storing.
Discard any leaves with wilt or rot on them.
Soak the leaves in an ice bath in a clean sink for five to 15 minutes.
Drain sink and rinse off each leaf under cold water to remove clinging dirt.
Dry the leaves in a salad spinner, making sure not to pack them too tightly.
Lay a 2-foot sheet of plastic wrap or two connected paper towels on counter. Place dried lettuce leaves on top and then wrap the plastic or paper towels around the leaves.
Put the wrapped leaves in a gallon-sized plastic bag.
Squeeze out any air left in the bag and then seal.
Place the plastic bag of lettuce leaves in the coldest part of your refrigerator. This is usually on the top shelf, against the rear wall.
If you have any limp lettuce leaves, you can leave them in the ice bath for an additional 15 minutes. The cold water will make them crisper.
If you don’t have a salad spinner, you can drain and toss the leaves in a colander and then dry between cloth towels.
The darker the green of the lettuce, the richer in beta carotene and fiber it is. Beta carotene converts to vitamin A in the body.
References and ResourcesUniversity of Illinois Extension: Watch Your Garden Grow , Lettuce
University of Nebraska - Lincoln: Growing and Preparing Looseleaf Lettuce; Alice Henneman