Intro: STORING LETTUCE & KEEPING IT FRESH!
No matter how pretty it looks when you bring it home, how long have you been able to keep a head of lettuce before the leaves wilted and turned an ugly, slimy, brown or black, and you had to throw it out? Especially if you are living alone or cooking for one (me) like I usually do. I love fresh, crispy, green lettuce and ripe red tomatoes, but a head of lettuce almost always spoiled before I could use it up - UNTIL NOW! I have finally found a way to keep lettuce fresh! Using the method that I am about to picture & describe here, I kept the last head of lettuce that i bought on March 26 (a head of Romaine) fresh for 32 days! I only had to discard the last two big leaves that were in the bottom of the storage unit.
Step 1: ITEMS NEEDED
The items needed are so simple that I am almost embarrassed to describe them here, but all you really need is:
- 1 storage pan with lid (I use an old beat up *8"x 10" aluminum pan with a slightly cracked plastic lid).
- 1 roll of quality paper towels.
- 1 sharp knife.
- 1 head of lettuce (your choice; it doesn't really matter - Bibb, Boston, Green Leaf, Red Leaf, Romaine, whatever).
(And, of course, a good refrigerator! I try to keep mine under 40 degrees F - usually around 38)
- Do not wash or rinse your lettuce. I repeat DO NOT!
- Trim off and discard the end piece (the stalk) from the head of lettuce and set the lettuce head aside.
- Line the bottom of the pan with a double sheet of paper towels (2 sheets, not separated - like 1 large sheet).
- Separate the** lettuce leaves and layer them on top of the paper towel.
- Cover the top of the lettuce leaves with another double sheet of paper towels.
- Snap the lid on tight and refrigerate until ready to use.
You're obviously not going to use all of the lettuce leaves in that container at one time. When you want a lettuce leaf (or a few), remove them from the pan; rinse them thoroughly, and use as desired. Recover the remaining leaves with the double paper towel, cover the pan and return to the refrigerator. (If the top paper towel is extremely damp, as it often will be since it absorbs moisture from the lettuce leaves, replace it with a new fresh double sheet. Check the bottom of the pan; if that sheet is very damp, replace it too)!
- *NOTE: My old aluminum pan does measure 8"x 10" at the bottom; slightly larger at the top. However, a double sheet of paper towels measures about 11"x 12", so you might want to use a slightly larger pan. I like mine because I can even wrap some of the paper towel around the sides and ends of the pile of lettuce leaves keeping them from touching the metal sides of the pan as much as possible. Having a tight-fitting lid is most important.
- **NOTE: If the lettuce is already wet when you bring it home from the store, pat the leaves dry before inserting them into the storage pan.