We have heard just about every rumor, theory, and technique out there that claims to be the best way to wash, prep and store lettuce. Some are basic, and some are…creative (case in point: drying your lettuce in a pillowcase). This little guide will dispel the mystery and craziness about storing full heads and pre-packaged greens.
Here at Loveleaf we’re not into complicated methods (or have time for cleaning green-tinted water off the ceiling, as one commenter noted), which is why we’d like to take a quick how-to detour to make a case for the good old fashioned salad spinner.
Just Cuz It Ain’t Fancy Doesn’t Mean It Doesn’t Work
A salad spinner seems like a unitasker that just. takes. up. space. And truthfully we didn’t really use ours either until we started making salads every day.
But a salad spinner is an essential tool in the Loveleaf kitchen because dry lettuce is the ultimate key to prepping salad greens that will stay fresh all week. Moisture = slimy, wilted lettuce = gross = I am grabbing a panini and chips.
The more we’ve used our salad spinner, the more we find it is an under-utilized and much maligned utensil, because it can do more than just spin:
- Use the exterior bowl as a large mixing bowl and the interior bowl as a colander.
- Store your washed and dried lettuce directly in the salad spinner in the refrigerator.
We have also found that while we love the convenience of pre-washed salad mixes, a salad spinner will save you money and encourage you to try different types of greens.
Have we convinced you on the spinner? Then you might want to check out our favorite here.
Before You Buy Your Greens
Salad greens are sold in several ways: full heads, bunches, prewashed in bags, prewashed in clamshells (aka plastic boxes) and loose in bulk bins. (Don’t know what to buy? Our Guide to Greens can help). Full heads or bunches will save you money, but if you’re short on time or don’t have a salad spinner (yet), a 1lb clamshell of spring mix is a perfectly good option. They come pre-washed and have the perfect amount of greens for a week of lunches.
Steer clear of boxes with any condensation, an indication that the leaves will wilt soon, and note the expiration date. Avoid any heads or bunches that are discolored or wilted; the greens should look crisp and fresh.
We like to use about 2 cups of loosely packed greens per salad. For five days of lunch salads, that’s about 10 cups of loosely packed greens.
Now, onto the washing, prepping, storing (and eating!).
How to Wash and Store: Full Heads
First, wash and dry your greens using a salad spinner.
- Fill your salad spinner with cold, clean water from the sink.
- Pull the leaves apart and submerge them into the salad spinner filled with water.
- Gently swish around the leaves with your hands and wait a few minutes for the dirt and grit to settle. If your greens are really dirty, you might want to repeat this step.
- Then, drain the water, gently tear any large leaves, and spin until very dry. And we mean dry. So spin your little (Romaine) hearts out.
After the greens have been washed and dried, here is best way to store greens:
- Line a plastic or glass storage container (or your salad spinner!) with paper towels (we like this airtight bowl).
- Add the greens on top, without packing them down.
- Gently place another layer of paper towels on top of the lettuce.
- Lock down the lid, making sure it’s airtight.
Voila! Your greens are crisp, clean, and ready to go!
How to Store: Pre-Washed Greens
If your pre-washed greens are in a bag, you’ll want to remove them from the bag (discarding any leaves that are starting to brown or wilt) and follow the storage instructions above. There is no need to wash pre-washed greens again.
If you’ve purchased pre-washed greens in a clamshell (a.k.a. a plastic box like photo above), you’re almost set. You’ll want to add a layer of paper towels on top of the lettuce and make sure the plastic box is fully shut after you open it. Storing the box upside down in the fridge (so the paper towel layer is on the bottom) will help drain out the moisture so that the leaves don’t get dark and slimy.