How to Store Lettuce and Keep it Fresh

Sick of limp lettuce? You might be storing it wrong. For lettuce that stays crisp and fresh longer you need to let it do two things. It needs to be able to breathe and have access to moisture. Both of these things are easily accomplished with a salad bag. 

Bright green romaine lettuce in a white terrycloth salad bag sitting on a worn wood table.

 

I’m not going to complain about the heat.  I’m not going to do it.  We had the most winter-like spring ever and I vowed not to complain about the heat when it came.  Instead I will simply inform you that all of my organs have liquified and now slosh when I walk.

And summer gut sloshing means it’s salad season.  The trick to a great salad in the summer is to keep the lettuce crisp.  Very few things in this world are better when they’re limp and lettuce is no exception so I have two tips for you today.  One on how to bring sickly lettuce back to life and one on how to keep lettuce fresh longer.

How to revive limp lettuce.

If your lettuce isn’t “rusty” or slimy and is just sort of bending and sad looking, you can usually revive it by letting it soak in ice cold water for 15 minutes or so.

This works with leaf lettuce, iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce … allllll the heads of lettuce. Tear (don’t cut) the lettuce leaves away from the core and then just let them soak.

Romaine lettuce soaking in a white cast iron sink to revive it.

You can do it in your sink or in a large bowl with cold water.  

How do you keep lettuce fresh for a month?

After your dry the revived lettuce you have 2 good ways to store it:

In a plastic bag

At the risk of dissuading you from making a salad bag you do have another option for storing lettuce but it involves plastic.

Wash the lettuce, shake out the excess water and dry it. Put it into a Ziploc bag and press or suck all of the air out of the bag. This will keep your lettuce fresh for 3-4 weeks. Remember you have to return the unused lettuce to the plastic bag and resuck the air out every time you remove some.

Then dry the lettuce with a salad spinner (this is the salad spinner I use) and store it in a plastic bag with a couple of damp paper towels. The paper towels will absorb extra moisture when there’s too much and it will also keep the bag humid enough to keep the lettuce crisp.


In a salad sack

OR you can be one of the cool kids and use a Salad Bag which means you’ll never have limp lettuce again and you’ll NEVER have to dry salad greens again and you won’t be using any plastic.  It’s the kind of revelation that’ll make you question your entire existence.  Turn your liquid guts solid again.  I’m not kidding.

YOU WILL NEVER HAVE TO DRY LETTUCE AGAIN.  This is real people, this is happening.

This is where I disclose what most of you don’t want to hear.  You have to sew 4 straightish lines to make your Salad Bag.  On a sewing machine.  Sorry ’bout that but it’s true. I know there are some of you out there who are opposed to sewing but sometimes you’ve gotta suck it up and do what needs to be done.

If you already know there is absolutely no way in hell you’re going to sew a salad bag, you can buy a Salad Sac on Amazon.

 

How do you keep lettuce from turning brown?

When you buy one of those premixed salads in a bag or clamshell container, by day 3 or even 2 of using it, the lettuce has gone brown and gross.  Why is that?

That’s because of ethylene gas. Lettuce gives off a bit of ethylene gas, but vegetables give off a lot. So if you have a mixture of lettuce and chopped vegetables in that bagged salad, the lettuce is going to go brown much faster than if it was just a bag of lettuce.

To keep your lettuce from going brown don’t store it in the same container as other cut vegetables.

 

How to make a salad bag.

Materials

      • 1, Terry cloth hand towel
      • 2,  lengths of cord, rope or ribbon (approximately 40″ each)

 

      1. Lay out your hand towel right side up.

Inexpensive white terrycloth hand towel laid on a black table.

2. Fold the bottom up to meet the top.

Hand towel folded in half to make a square.

3.  Sew sides up leaving 1.5″ open at the top.

Edges of white terrycloth towel sewn together to form bag.

4. Turn down the top by 3/4 of an inch. The top hem of the towel will align with where your side stitching starts.

Terrycloth towel folded in half with the sides sewn and the top edge folded down to form salad bag.

5. Sew down folded portions with a very small seam allowance to create a channel.

White towel with sides sewn up and top rolled down to make a casing for string or ribbon.

6. You now have a tube to run your ribbon or rope through for closing the bag.

A few of the casing at the top of a salad bag for running a string or ribbon through.

7. Turn your bag right side out and using a safety pin run an approximately 40″ length of ribbon through the entire top of the bag.  Repeat this step but starting from the other side of the bag.

Yellow grosgrain ribbon being fed through the top of a salad bag casing with a safety pin.

8.  You now have to pull strings on either side of your bag.

A completed DIY salad bag laying on a black background with yellow ribbon for closure.

9. Soak your bag in water.

Salad bag being soaked in water in white sink.

10. Wring out as much water as possible. You want the bag to be damp not wet.

Water being wrung out of a wet salad bag.

11.  Fill the bag with wet lettuce!

Filling a damp salad bag with wet lettuce.

(if the lettuce is reallyyyyy wet you can put it in a dry bag as opposed to a damp one)

A wet white salad bag filled with romaine lettuce sits on a wood table.

12. Pull the drawstrings closed and keep the bag in the fridge.

Make a Salad Bag

Make a Salad Bag

Yield: 1 salad bag
Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy(ish)
Estimated Cost: $2

Keeps your lettuce fresh and crisp. It's how all the cool kids store their lettuce.

Materials

  • Terry cloth hand towel
  • lengths of cord, rope or ribbon (approximately 40″ each)

Instructions

      1. Lay out your hand towel right side up.
      2. Fold the bottom up to meet the top
      3. Sew sides up leaving 1.5″ open at the top.
      4. Turn down the top by 3/4 of an inch. The top hem of the towel will align with where your side stitching starts.
      5. Sew down folded portions with a very small seam allowance to create a channel.
      6. You now have a tube to run your ribbon or rope through for closing the bag.
      7. Turn your bag right side out and using a safety pin run an approximately 40″ length of ribbon through the entire top of the bag.  Repeat this step but starting from the other side of the bag.
      8. You now have to pull strings on either side of your bag.
      9. Soak your bag in water.
      10. Wring out as much water as possible. You want the bag to be damp not wet.
      11. Fill the bag with lettuce.
      12. Pull the drawstrings closed and keep the bag in the fridge.
      13. Re-dampen the bag when you notice it starting to dry out.

Notes

If your lettuce is wilted, revive it before putting it in the bag by soaking it in ice cold water for 15 minutes.

If your lettuce is very wet you can put it in a dry bag as opposed to a damp one.

Recommended Products

I'm an Amazon affiliate some I get a few cents when you buy something I've linked to.


The only pain of this system is you really have to make sure your bag stays damp. THAT’S the key to keeping your lettuce crisp and fresh.  If you can manage that, your  lettuce will stay fresh for an astonishingly long time.If your bag starts to dry out re-dampen it and return it to the fridge.  Lettuce, especially heartier lettuces like romaine, will last for well over a week, perfectly fresh, stored like this.


Bright green romaine lettuce sticking out of a white terry towel salad bag on a wood table.

 

If you’re still completely opposed to sewing 4 straight lines and making your own bag for a total cost of about $2, you can buy a Salad Sac on Amazon


Cheater Tip

You can also forego the sewing by wrapping your lettuce up in a damp terrycloth towel. 


 

Now if you’ll excuse me my pancreas is dripping on the floor and I need to wipe it up. 

 

→Follow me on Instagram where I often make a fool of myself←

 

How to Store Lettuce and Keep it Fresh

77 Comments

  1. Nora says:

    Here is another way to keep lettuce fresh that is easy. I trim a thin slice off the stem end of my leaf lettuce and stand it up in a container with a couple inches of water in it, place a plastic bag loosely over it and stick it in the fridge. Lettuce keeps a long time this way. Good to replace the water once in a while. It is important that the leaf veins are intact.

  2. Jan in Waterdown says:

    Best lettuce spinner ever? Roll the lettuce leaves in a big bath towel and chuck it in the last spin cycle of your top loading (not front loading!!) washing machine. It does a big batch and spins waaaay faster than one of those plastic jobs!

  3. Linda says:

    I read somewhere that to rejuvenate limp greens – soak in lukewarm water first as the leaves absorb warm water better. Then in cold water to crisp them up. I have been doing this for years and find it very successful.

  4. Linfy says:

    Dear Goddess of the Sublime and the Inane,
    What a treat you are for this world worried heart sore woman and hag will also do, I have my moments.
    On the subject of food bags I went hunting through your posts and if it is there I obviously did not go back far enough and I now expect you to do my work for me. Quite the little Princess, bwahahahaha. Do I recall correctly that you use a cloth bag of some sort to keep our Cover-19 pounds increasing by keeping our bread in said ‘bag’ for freshness?
    One is always musing upon anything written in a meadow in the middle of the woods when she has not seen another soul for actual social time drinking and conversation at the same table…coffee, tea, wine, beer whatever the fancy of the moment would be. I tend to alcohol but apparently isopropyl is not for human consumption…who knew.
    If you ever quit blogging I will hunt you down with massive rocket launchers that we see so casually carried on the streets and in government buildings that our beleaguered American cousins do not even notice when the man carrying one has his young child and they are inside ordering a sub…not submarine but I wouldn’t put those carriers past wanting to.
    warmest of regards,
    Linfy
    my oh my, I will always be a wordy bugger I see.

    • Sue says:

      bread bag did you say? I need that pattern for my new bread making adventure, please!

      • Linda says:

        Hello Sue,
        We shall be on it the moment Karen notices. That woman gets things done! Lucky for us, bwahahahaha.

      • Linda says:

        Hello Sue!
        Karen replied and I had remember incorrectly. Happening quite frequently now which makes such hunts as these a little more fun and I stick by that.
        Karen has the link for us to find the linen bread loaf bag I was speaking of and chasing after. The full link is there and yes, very beautiful. Do enjoy if you treat yourself to one!!
        Regards, Linfy

    • Karen says:

      Hmm. I”m not sure, lol. I have linen bread bags from Rough Linen that I have featured? https://www.roughlinen.com/collections/kitchen-table-linen-collection/products/orkney-linen-bread-bag?variant=12247055958117 ~ karen!

      • Linda says:

        Thank you Karen,
        No wonder I could not find the pattern, bwahahaha. I see that her linens are just gorgeous and out of budget range. So very beautiful linen is. I can never figure out why people insist that their linen be pressed within an inch of it’s life and kept that way by standing like a robot and never even considering sitting!! I am not suggesting it gets tied into a soaking wet tight ball and left to dry to wear it, but I love seeing linen showing the living going on the days it is worn. Very beautiful material that should be a goal to own a piece of at least once in one’s life. Thanks Karen!! Warm regards, Linfy

  5. Martha Blair Murphy says:

    I love this idea, thanks! I have been washing individual leaves of lettuce, laying them out on a dishtowel, rolling up the dishtowel, then sticking the roll into a plastic bag that the newspaper comes in. I have crisp greens for 2 weeks!

  6. Lisa says:

    OMG! LYLAS!

  7. Beth L Bilous says:

    Hey hey i can sew one but would rather have the one from Amazon, but they are all sold out. Any other source you know of to get one of these please? Its too damn cute.

    • Karen says:

      You can try to search Amazon for just a salad bag and see what comes up. A lot of name brand stuff is sold out now (as you know). It’ll either be back in stock after this craziness is over or like I say, you might be able to find one that’s another brand. ~ karen!

  8. Clare McK. says:

    Good idea! I wonder if it would be easier to sew the drawstring hems before you do the side seams. Then you can catch the edge of the fold over in the side seam for strength.
    Just a thought.
    The other way to dry leaves is to put the damp ones in a tea towel, hold all four corners and swing around your head. Best done outdoors!

  9. Irene says:

    I plonk my lettuce, stalk first, in a jar or vase of water. Stays perky for at LEAST a week, and makes a really pretty “flower” arrangement!

  10. Lisa says:

    I will definitely try this but must disagree with your salad spinner choice – the Zyliss spinner with the pull cord is a vastly superior product 🙂. I’m

  11. Annette says:

    Hi Karen,
    Nice idea. I am not into plastic bags as a rule (never use the ones in the produce. aisle), but I have bought green plastic bags that I wash and reuse for months/years that keep my lettuce fresh forever!

  12. Lyn says:

    Hey Karen, I just use my old tea towels, wetted & well wrung out, for all my veg — well, not onions or potatoes of course, but pretty much everything else & keep the bundles in the crisper/vegetable drawers. As long as your crisper closes completely, they will stay damp & fresh. And the bonus is that I get to re-use those beloved old linen or cotton tea towels that still have some beauty but are no longer fit for regular kitchen duty. . . well, yes, now that you mention it, I do have a little issue with hoarding, but it’s the creative & functional kind ;-)

  13. Cortney says:

    Is there a reason why you use terry cloth specifically? Or any towel will do?

    • Karen says:

      Well, most towels are terry cloth, but yes use terry cloth if you can. It holds a good amount of moisture which is what keeps the greens hydrated and crisp. :) ~ karen!

      • Cortney says:

        That makes sense. Thank you. I cringe reading other posts saying to use papertowels and plastic bags to store. Because most likely those plastic bags wont be reused more than once or a few times at most

        • Patty Hane says:

          Whenever I use paper towels to dry veggies I lay them over something to dry and they can be reused.

      • g Sharon Jones says:

        Well I will complain about the heat. 7:30 am here in N. California today & it’s 80° with a heat index of 83°!! Which is cool compared to what 5PM will bring 108° to 112° degrees Fahrenheit. Uggggg Top that off with a nice hot flash & my family runs! They know heat+hot flash=bitchy woman. Lol There should be a song. Cute idea. I don’t sew so I went to Amazon for the Salad Sack sad to say they are not available at this time. So sad. So I will take my towels across the street & beg my very good neighbor who sews like a dream & has a machine but not until this heat wave passes or I’m afraid I will solar flare crossing that street. Here’s to icecubes & bathtubs & cool drinks.

        • Jacquie Gariano says:

          I have a Vejibag that I got on line. I’m not sure if I got it from Amazon or direct from the company. You try contacting the company for the bags. There were two sizes and I got the smaller one and it works great for lettuce and other vegs.

        • Karen says:

          Yeah, there’s a lot of stuff that isn’t available right now, lol. Hope your neighbour was able to help! ~ karen

  14. Anne Marie says:

    We just plant variegated salad leaves every 6 weeks or so. That gives enough leaves to pick while the next lot mature and so on. Just pick what you need each day. I never store them. Just chuck out the few leaves left and pick fresh ones tomorrow.

  15. Kelly says:

    I would worry about mold.

  16. Laura Withers says:

    Does anyone have any tips on keeping broccoli fresh? Thanks in advance

    • Sally Foulds says:

      Yes! Cut a thin slice from the stem (where it was cut to harvest it) and stand it in a cup of water so the cut end is in the water. Keep it in the fridge – I’ve kept broccoli fresh for over a week this way…..magic!

  17. billy sharpstick says:

    Great idea. But I never remove the leaves until I’m ready to use them. I think that romaine stays fresher leaving the head intact. Then I rinse the outer leaves and dry with a spinner. The inner leaves aren’t dirty, so they just go right into the salad after ripping into pieces.

    • billy sharpstick says:

      I’ve also found that buying whole heads of romaine is cheaper than bags of cut up salad, even when they are “buy one get one free”!

  18. Rebecca says:

    Love this! I’m going to make a dozen or so to sell at my thrift shoppe’s Garden Event next month. Thank you for the inspiration!

  19. Do what Rebekah says. It works. Roll the lettuce in a tea towel, then put the lettuce, rolled up towel and all, into a plastic bag. No sewing, and the towel doesn’t dry out.
    P.S. Butter lettuce is crispiest and crunchiest of all.

  20. Sarah Jackson says:

    What is a washer?

  21. Alex says:

    This is a great idea! Just make sure to wash the bag before you use it since its been treated with chemicals and you don’t know what it’s been through.

  22. Angeal says:

    Guess I’m the only one who seldom washes my lettuce! I’ll try to do better in the future!
    Angela

  23. SusanR says:

    Just finished making mine. Took about 10 minutes, mostly because I couldn’t find my bodkin right off the bat. Looking forward to having lettuce more frequently this summer! Thank you!

  24. Jan in Waterdown says:

    Here’s a nifty idea that I stole from a Canadian Living mag back in the dark ages before the Interweb was invented. If you need to dry a large batch of lettuce, spread it out on a big bath or beach towel, roll it up gently to avoid crushing the leaves and making sure all is tucked inside. Then pop the whole thing in the last spin cycle of your TOP loading washing machine. It works brilliantly to spin all the water off the lettuce and into the towel. Do not use a front load one or you’ll have tossed salad!

  25. Mary W says:

    How do you take the most normal, mundane things we do and turn them into really cool ideas, gifts, useful items that we actually need and will use? Tell Betty I said Hi and she did something very cool when raising you. Wonder what it was?

  26. shannon says:

    This is brilliant. Even though I will have to drag out my sewing machine and have my husband remind me how to use it (for real), I’m gonna do this. I’m also guessing it would work well for fresh herbs.

    • Jan in Waterdown says:

      Hi Shannon, I like to put fresh herbs in a glass of water (like an herb bouquet) then put that in a plastic bag and tie the top loosely and the whole thing goes in the fridge. It works very well for parsley and cilantro, anything with stems but make sure to strip off any leaves below the water line or you’ll have a green slime science project!

  27. SueSchneid22 says:

    This is such a great idea!! I, too, am a plastic bag/paper towel kind of salad maker. Thank you for such a useful idea that is delightfully simple. It will have to wait until I am home as I am on vaca in the mountains of NC where it is delightfully cool and breezy, but I left the MidAtlantic area when it was in the 90’s, so I hear you on that score. Not rubbing it in or anything… ;)

    Thank you! I love your blog.

  28. Alena says:

    I am willing to give it a try but for a different reason – I eat a huge amount of veggies every day and I find that if I don’t pre-chop everything ahead of time I am very likely to reach for something less healthy in order to escape the prep work.

    I will let you know how it worked out.
    Now if somebody could come up with an idea how to keep spinach fresh. I prefer spinach to romaine lettuce (although my salads are usually a mixture of spinach, romaine and dandelion and/or black kale when it’s available). I buy the bundled spinach because the spinach leaves sold in bags start going limp the second day.

    • Martina says:

      I bought a food safe container, line the bottom with paper towel, place half the spinach in, separate with another paper towel, throw the rest of the spinach in and top with another paper towel. My spinach stays fresh for up to two weeks. I also alternate placing the container upside down in the fridge and then right side up the next day as I take it out. I know it sounds time consuming, but it really isn’t and you don’t waste your spinach!
      Hope that helps!

  29. Flash says:

    I don’t grow enough that there is ever enough to store.

  30. Monique says:

    I want to make one now:)I have been the paper towel girl..FINI!

  31. Dawn says:

    Wow! Thank you for the quick and easy tutorial! Beats the way I have been doing things.
    I’m going to make a few for gifts!
    So people can chill the flip out! (and keep their lettuce cool and fresh too)

  32. Amy says:

    I buy a package with three Romaine hearts in one bag. I’m wondering whether I couldn’t just dampen a face cloth and put it inside the plastic bag, because I’m concerned that the wet bag in my crisper drawer would cause some of my other veggies to rot.

    • Karen says:

      No, it doesn’t affect the other vegetables. Most like to have humidity, which is the purpose of the crisper drawer. The bag isn’t wet, it’s damp which just creates humidity around anything near it. ~ karen!

  33. Joanne says:

    What a great idea! I think I even have the same hand towel (Costco, bulk purchase?)–and my sewing machine is out, ready to go, with white thread in it. Will this work for those baby greens that turn to mush overnight?

    • Karen says:

      The baby greens are more difficult to keep fresh, you’re right. I find it’s touch and go with the baby greens. The odd one still goes gross. And mine towels are from Dollarama. :) ~ karen!

      • Joanne says:

        Love Dollarama! I have to research how to grow greens. I know nothing about gardening.

        • Lisa says:

          I get baby greens (spinach etc) from the markets each week. The market stall sells them in plastic bags with air holes – they last for up to 10 days – perfect. Or, if they have run out of the “holey” bags I store them in the good old mushroom paper bag, but put holes in the bag – they need the air to circulate or slime fest central.

        • Martina says:

          Hmmm…you haven’t been here long then…lol

  34. Heather MacDonald says:

    What a useful internet pal you are! Thanks!

  35. jaine kunst says:

    I’ve been putting my lettuce in a very large casserole dish with a damp paper towel on the bottom and covering with a glass lid. Seems to last about 10 days. But I will try the towel method.

  36. Kathryn says:

    We’ve been just wrapping up the washed greens in a towel and sticking the whole thing in the crisper drawer, so when we want salad we just grab a handful. I get a farm box of veggies every Tuesday, and use the last ones for Tuesday lunch, so I know they last for a week nicely.

    But I like the idea of the bag.

  37. Ann says:

    I find I have great luck if I wash and prep the greens, letting them almost go dry in a colander. Then I put a folded up paper towel down in the bottom of a half gallon glass jar, fill it with the greens and vacuum seal. Which means you have to have a vacuum sealer with a jar adapter. But this way my salad stays pristine, usually for a full week.

  38. Leticia says:

    I’m not a big fan of lettuce, I prefer meaner greens, with more flavor. What I have been doing lately, since it’s winter and I am in no mood for cold salads, is to soak the leaves in the sink, swish them around to dislodge the dirt, dry in the salad spinner, chop and freeze in portions.

    This way I can add collard greens or broccoli leaves and stems quickly and easily to my cooking food. Just drop them in at the last minute. Defrosted means done.

    I will save this idea for summer. In the region of Brazil where I live we have a lot of a wide leaf endive, we call escarola. It’s very much like lettuce, but hardier and with flavor. It’s also very good cooked.

  39. TucsonPatty says:

    This is pretty genius! You could sew by hand, too, if you don’t want to get the sewing maching out of storage. If I put my purchased salad-in-a-bag into the salad bag, will it all stay crisp? I keep not getting to eat the last of the bag of shredded cabbage or all of the ready made salad I’ve taken to purchasing. Don’t judge me, please…lately it seems to be to only way I can get my greens on! The Amazon link also leads to only of these made of a microfiber cloth – is that as good? Stay damp the same or better? Do you get credit for anything we purchase, if we get there from your site? (I’m looking for new capris.)

    • Karen says:

      Hi Patty. Yes, I do get credit if you buy anything from my site as long as you go to Amazon from any one of my links, thanks. :) Yes this works with salad in a bag salads too. The only trick is making sure the bag is damp and stays damp. ~ karen!

      • judy says:

        wow! I wish you would have mentioned this long ago. Due to Husbands illness I have had to purchase a hospital bed,wheelchair,gait belts-diaper pants-soaps creams pads moving thingys etc. I could have popped over and grabbed a link. Will do so from now on. thanks for all the wonderful,chuckles giggles and downright guffaws. sorely needed and greatly appreciated. people who can make us laugh are a priceless treasure,also people who can sing.

  40. Stay Calm & Let-tuce never have leafy casualties again. Awesome idea Karen!

  41. Melissa Stinson says:

    Sold!! I’m on It! Do I really need to drag out the sewing machine?? Ugh

    • Rebekah says:

      No – actually, in my family we just wrap the washed lettuce in a clean tea towel, and then stow the roll in a plastic bag in the fridge. Clean, crisp, stays fresh for days – and no sewing or worrying about keeping a salad bag moist involved.

      • Janie says:

        Just what I was going to say. I buy Romain hearts in packages of 6 at Sams Club. I wash them, cut off the stem end and roll each one in a clean cotton towel. These go into a plastic bag. Easy to take one out at a time and they will last for 2 or 3 weeks for me. The plastic bag keeps the towel from becoming too dry.

  42. Nicole says:

    Using a crochet hook to pull the ribbon through is easier than a safety pin.

    Would you use this *after* using the salad spinner, or instead of?

    Doesn’t the bag leave a wet splotch in the fridge? I’ve just finished un-sticky-ifying the crisper drawer (no idea what the heck that gunk was) and I don’t want to ever do it again. Or at least not for a really long time. Like decades.

    • Gillian says:

      I put a dry washer in the bottom of my crisper drawer. If anything leaks I just swap the washer for a fresh one. Seems to keep things fresher too.

    • Karen says:

      No wet splotches that I’ve ever noticed. The bag is damp, not wet. The beauty of it is you don’t need to use a salad spinner to dry the lettuce unless you want to use the lettuce right away. The terrycloth of the towel absorbs the excess moisture of the lettuce (unless they’re absolutely sopping wet). ~ karen!

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