The Secret to Keeping Lettuce Crisp (for up to 3 weeks)!

cover IILet me tell you a story.  There was once a girl who lived in Dallas and LOVED salad.  Almost any kind of salad, but her favorites were caesar salad (with or without chicken) or a fried or grilled chicken salad (with ranch dressing, cheddar cheese and croutons).  OK, so maybe these salads weren’t the healthiest of salads, but still – it made this girl feel good and healthy when she got to eat a salad for a meal.  At least she was getting some vegetables, and let’s be serious – any kind of salad is better than a burger or pizza.

So, this girl then moved to Costa Rica…  and was startled to find there are no caesar salads here, nor any kind of bagged lettuce you can by in the grocery stores, no good tasting ranch dressing, and absolutely no caesar dressing.  There was lettuce – sure.  But every time this girl would buy a head or bunch of lettuce, it would start wilting before she even got home!  She’d wash it immediately, dry it, put paper towels around it and put it in zip locked bags – but STILL it was always pretty wilted.  She was dismayed and gave up on making and eating salads in Costa Rica.

Until…  her friend Cheryl told her about storing lettuce in tin foil.

SAY WHAT?

I know, that’s what I said (yes, I am said girl, duh)!  

But YOU GUYS.  I’ve tried this.  Several times, now.  And it works!  My lettuce stays fresh and crisp for up to – get this – 3 weeks.  Even if it’s already started to wilt when I get home from the store, it seems to come back to life and “crisp up” again.  

Unbelievable.  I know.  But try it.  I’m not lying to you.

So here’s my step-by-step directions, which are REALLY super easy.

1. Buy a bunch of lettuce (any kind – I usually like to stick with Romaine or Leaf Lettuce).

2. As soon as you get home, take it apart at the stalk (do NOT cut stalk/root off).  Example – for a bunch of leaf lettuce, I would divide into 3 or 4 separate stalk-sections.  Here is one stalk-section:
stalk

3. Wrap each stalk-section tightly in tin foil (I wrap the ends of the tin foil over the bottom and top parts, then wrap tightly length-wise).  IMPORTANT – DO NOT WASH or WET the lettuce before  you do this!
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4. Store in fridge (for up to 2-3 weeks).

5. When ready to eat, take tin foil out of fridge, tear your lettuce up into pieces (however small you want).  Wash thoroughly, and spin dry if possible.  I love this salad spinner (takes virtually ALL of the water out):

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Click HERE to check out this awesome salad spinner.

See how crisp my over-2-weeks-old lettuce looks??

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6. Put in a bowl, add whatever else you want to it, and – SERVE!  Voilà!  Your lettuce will be crisp, clean, cold and SOOO WONDERFUL.  Your friends will think you picked this up at the farmer’s market SAME DAY, I guarantee you.  Look at this, this is 2.5 weeks old lettuce, with my homemade ranch and croutons and a bit of shredded mozzarella:

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Here’s the recipe for my homemade croutons:

Baked Croutons
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Ingredients
  1. ▪ 3 cups day-old bread – cut up
  2. ▪ 1/4 cup olive oil
  3. ▪ 3 tablespoons parmesan cheese
  4. ▪ 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  5. ▪ 1/8 teaspoon salt
  6. ▪ 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  7. ▪ 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375º F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the bread and all remaining ingredients. Toss well. Spread bread cubes out on a cookie sheet with a silicone matt or parchment paper.
  3. Bake the bread cubes for about 10 minutes, or until slightly golden brown and crisp.
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman
Costa Rica Chica http://costaricachica.com/

I think the secret might be in storing with no water, and not exposing to air in any way – but what do I know?  Who cares!  All I know is this gives me long lasting and easy to care for lettuce, and this girl is one happy salad-eating camper!

You’re welcome & happy salad making!!
PS – MANY THANKS (100 times over!) to my friend Cheryl, for sharing this secret with me!! 

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Jen

I quit my job in my early 40’s, sold everything and retired early to live a simple life in Costa Rica!

Check out my book: "Costa Rica Chica" - the book.

Check out my Arm Candy: Costa Rica Chica Arm Candy.

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37 Responses to The Secret to Keeping Lettuce Crisp (for up to 3 weeks)!

  1. Thanks for the tip. I can’t wait to try it. Can’t tell you how much lettuce I’ve thrown out because it ruined before I could eat it.

      • Thank you for that great tip.the closest thing I have found is to wash it and wrap it in a Terry cloth towel. And refrigerate. But does not last for more than 1 week. Great idea!
        We folks from Florida love salads too. Recipe for you Ranch dressing?

        • Awesome, glad to help! Here’s my ranch:

          2 TB dried parsley
          2 tsp dried dill
          1 tsp garlic powder
          1 tsp onion powder
          1/2 tsp black pepper
          1/2 tsp dried chives
          pinch of salt

          FOR DRESSING: 1 cup milk + 1 cup mayo + 3-4 TB of above Ranch seasoning mix. ENJOY! 🙂

    • Yes, I learned that too – thanks! After my friend told me about the lettuce, I was google searching for specific instructions, and all I found was how to preserve celery in tin foil (almost nada about lettuce), so I just kinda did the same thing except for lettuce and I’m so amazed with how great it works!!

    • Hey, I keep celery fresher for a longer time when I cut the bottoms and store in a big plastic cup of water with a plastic bag on top. I freshen the cut (like a flower) if needed. Stays really crispy!

  2. OMG!! Of all the WONDERFUL things you’ve written, THIS THIS THIS … is … I have no words but THANK YOU … and thanks to Aliisa for the celery addtion!! I was just whining (again) the other day about the lettuce problem — I have been able to reconstitute somewhat limp lettuce (i.e. after about a day in the fridge) in a bucket of ice water, but 3 freakin’ weeks!! I’m doing a happy lettuce dance. Abrazos!

    • OH YAY!!! This made me so happy, to make you so happy!! I thought there had to be others out there who had never heard of this (especially when google came up pretty blank for me). Woot! 🙂

  3. OK, so I have to admit that I read the title of this in my email and said to myself, “I can’t believe I have a close friend who actually is writing about how to keep lettuce crisp.” And a day passed. And then I read what you had to say. Shame on me! That is the coolest thing and I’ll use it here in the states too! Thank you and, again, shame on me!

  4. Hey there!! I am absolutely thrilled about this trick and can’t wait to do it! My question is, how do you keep from bruising or otherwise smushing the leaves as you tightly wrap them in foil? Whether or not I am trying to prolong lettuce leaves, I’m always afraid to handle them too roughly for fear of the bruising and wilting them. Folded foil seems like it would do that…?

  5. I am very excited to try this. I love salad as well-but am very picky-it has to be fresh and crisp. This sounds like you found the answer to my problem-Thanks Jen

  6. I will certainly try your simple and great tip, Jen. We too frequently have wilted lettuce that ends up being tossed. Thank you!

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