Keeping Lettuce for Two Weeks

The alternate title for this kitchen tip is “The World’s Largest Salad Spinner.”

In the summertime, I’m all about salads.  I love them year round, but there is something so refreshing about cold, crisp lettuce in the heat of summer.  I’ll often make one dish meals centered around a huge bowl of salad, and just top it with chicken of the grilled, teriyaki, blackened or fried variety.

All that to say, I got real tired of washing lettuce every night.  And my family also got real tired of me making them wash lettuce every night.  So I came up with this idea, and it works like a charm.  It seriously will keep my clean, washed lettuce dry and fresh for two weeks.

First, fill your clean sink with cold water.  Then tear the ends off of your lettuce.  I prefer leaf lettuce, but any kind will do here.  Just get the core gone, and spread the leaves out in a sink full of cold water.

Let them soak for about 15-20 minutes or more.  Swish the lettuce leaves around gently a few times to loosen any dirt, and then just let them sit.

The dirt is heavy, so it will fall to the bottom of the sink.  I’m always amazed at how much grit comes off of lettuce that looked clean to start with.

this is dirt…in the bottom of my sink.

 Now the key to keeping lettuce fresh is that it needs to be dry.  Not freakishly bone dry like the bagged salads (don’t even get me started)…but there shouldn’t be droplets of water on the leaves, or they’ll rot and get all slimy.

This is my own hairbrained idea, based on an old fashioned Southern trick for washing collard greens in the washing machine.  I figured, if you can turn your washing machine into a giant sink, then why not utilize the spin cycle as a giant salad spinner?

All you’ll need for this trick is a larger size mesh zipper bag…the kind that you’d buy to dry ‘delicates’ in.  Lettuce is delicate, right?  Right?!!!

Now, you wanna pick up handfuls of the drippy wet lettuce…don’t squeeze it or anything.It’s delicate.

Just stuff it into your mesh bag.  I try not to stir up the water too much, so the dirt stays put on the bottom.  Once you get all the lettuce into the bag, you can drain your sink.

Zip your lettuce into the washing bag.  Then I hold a towel under my wet drippy bag-o-lettuce and head to the washing machine.

Pop your bag-o-greens into the washing machine and select the spin cycle.  The machine I have now sprays water out at the very beginning of the spin cycle, so I have to set it about halfway past the spin and then close the lid.

And that’s it!  It spins the ever-lovin’ daylights out of your lettuce, and it emerges from the bag just perfect for long term fridge storage.

I like to store mine in 2 gallon bags (approximately one 2 gallon bag per head of lettuce) with a double layer of paper towel on both sides of the bag.  Any moisture still on the lettuce will collect on the paper towels. This will keep it just moist enough to stay hydrated and crisp, but prevents the lettuce from browning.

I don’t tear or cut the leaves until I’m making the salad, which takes all of about 30 seconds.  Plus, that gives me the option of having whole lettuce leaves for sandwiches, lettuce wraps, etc.

Now, just slip in a double layer of paper towels, and refrigerate.

And that my friends is how I make my own convenient bagged lettuce!

Free bonus tip: be sure your ‘second rinse’ cycle option is turned off.  Unless you enjoy your lettuce in minute beaten shreds that you have to pick out of the washing machine one by one.  Thank you.

If you enjoy kitchen tips, check out Tammy’s Recipes on Tuesdays.  Here is her tip on washing and tearing up Romaine lettuce: Kitchen Tip Tuesday: Preparing Lettuce


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  1. Violet says

    I put a couple of paper towels in the bag with vegetables and fruits to absorb moisture. That will make them las longer. They don’t have to be prepared for use. After making a salad just lay a paper towel on top before sealing with plastic wrap.

  2. Deborah McCollum says

    I know you mean well, and at first glance it SEEMS like a great idea! But do you know how many and what kinds of germs and bacteria are in a washing machine! You may want to do some research!?! I’m pretty sure you’ll discover that this isn’t such a HEALTHY idea!! I’m just sayin’! Thanks!