How to Keep Lettuce Fresh Longer

The Right Way to Store Salad Greens

Young woman washing lettuce at kitchen sink, close-up of hands
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Tired of having your lettuce go bad before you get around to using it? Learn how to store lettuce properly, so you have more time to eat it.

How to Store Your Lettuce to Keep It Fresh

For Loose Leaf Lettuce (and Greens):

  1. Wash your lettuce and remove any damaged leaves. Do this even if you bought bags of pre-washed lettuce. They're known to carry E. coli.
  2. Dry your lettuce thoroughly. You might want to use a salad spinner. It helps to remove the excess water, without bruising the lettuce.
  1. Gently pat the lettuce dry with a paper towel or dish towel.
  2. Then, wrap the lettuce in dry paper toweling, and place it in a plastic bag or storage container. You can even reuse the container it came in. Just be sure to wash it first.
  3. Store your lettuce in the refrigerator. The crisper drawer is the best place to keep lettuce. It'll maintain the proper temperature and moisture level.
  4. Replace the paper towel any time it feels especially wet. This is the key to keeping your lettuce from getting slimy.
  5. Check your lettuce every day or two, and remove any leaves that are beginning to go bad. This will keep the rest of the lettuce from spoiling.

For Heads of Lettuce:

Leave the heads intact and unwashed until you use them. Place them in the crisper drawer in your fridge with some paper towels. They'll absorb any excess moisture, so your lettuce doesn't spoil prematurely.

More Tips to Maximize the Fridge Life of Lettuce

  • Lettuce bruises easily, so be careful not to shove other foods up against it in the fridge. Using a storage container would be better than a bag that can end up squished against other items.
  • If it takes you a while to eat a head of lettuce, you may want to consider buying Romaine or Iceburg lettuce. They tend to stay fresh longer than other lettuce varieties.

How to Revive Wilted Lettuce

Don't sweat it, if your lettuce starts to wilt. You can restore its crispness by soaking it in ice water for a few minutes before you use it.

How Long Will Lettuce Keep?

In general, loose lettuce leaves should be used within 7-10 days. You probably won't have much luck storing them longer than that.

Heads of lettuce have a longer fridge life. Expect them to last one to three weeks, depending on the variety. Tight heads, such as Iceberg lettuce, will keep the longest. 

Don't toss the whole head just because the outer leaves are starting to look past their prime. If you peel them off, the rest of the head should be just fine.

Defer to your senses when it comes to deciding whether your lettuce is still okay to eat. If it smells bad, looks gross or feels slimy, toss it out (or compost it) and buy more. Your health is worth more than the couple bucks you spent on that lettuce.

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