Buying in bulk: lettuce

Chef Cheapo

Some of you may say, "Are you nuts? Lettuce can’t be kept for more than a couple days in the fridge!" Well, perhaps you are correct, if you don’t know the secret to keeping it long term. This is an industry secret I learned while working in a very fine restaurant in NJ. Many large restaurants buy lettuce by the case, which will contain anywhere from 18- 32 heads. Sometimes they will get used right away and other times because of the sheer quantity of usage, these cases must be stored. What I have done is tone down this to the average homemakers use. Remove the lettuce from the produce bag and do your best to shake off any excess water that may have been sprayed on by the grocer. DO NOT WASH the lettuce yet. Gently wrap the head in 2-3 paper towels (I usually use romaine lettuce, so this is rather easy to do) or clean, cotton dish towels and then you can either loosely put back in the bag or put right into the veggie drawer. What will happen is the paper towel will absorb any excess moisture from the head. Moisture is the enemy here. Too much moisture will cause the head to rot. The towel will absorb the excess, but remain just moist enough to keep the head from drying out.
I have used this buying a 6 head pack of romaine at Sam’s and have actually forgot I had it in the spare fridge downstairs for 2 weeks. The lettuce was still fresh and quite usable. This same trick can be used for scallions and all other leafy veggies.

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  • luv2cook

    I am a chef also – and you are absolutely right.

  • grannygigi

    Hmmm, very interesting! I do not buy much lettuce because I live along but will have to try this idea! Thanks

  • Old 'N' Still Cookin'
    Old 'N' Still Cookin'

    As a professional I agree! However, for the average amount of lettuce used in the average home a simpler method is available. For many years now I have been using Green Bags which were available at Trader Joe's Markets but now are available in most large food markets everywhere. I initially bought them tongue in cheek but after a time they proved to be very good and saved me a lot of produce. I grow leaf lettuce all of my gardening season, and as most know it must be used quickly. I can keep it from 7-10 days easily! These bags can be used over and over again. (with reasonable care). I never wash lettuce until I am ready to use it. These bags are great for most fruits and vege's.

  • Carrie

    Thanks so much for sharing this! I have done this method with green onions for ages but never thought about it for lettuce!

  • BigShotsMom

    I do this with romaine, but never thought of doing it with anything else. I do remove all produce from the plastic bags before it goes in the crisper. Thanks for the idea!

  • luv2cook

    I noticed that you like to make kid friendly snacks – what are some of your favorites?

  • Mamaw1

    Years ago,(in 50's) my mom was a member of a Homemakers Club. They learned lots of good tips. This concept was one of them, for any produce purchase. I love your blogs. They are always educational and informative. Thank you.

  • petey

    Living 4 hours from town, we have had our share of shortages of 'fresh' anything. I found that I can cut up my lettuce, put it in a half gallon canning jar and seal it with a food saver. Keeps for a month, doesn't brown, doesn't wilt! Best part for me is, its all ready to go!

  • missability

    You are absolutely right on!…I am not sure where along the way I heard or even started doing this but it works like a charm. I have even bought the shredded taco lettuce, opened the packaging, patted it dry with a paper towel, then rolled it loosely into 2 clean paper towels and placed it in a lock and lock bowl…and have had it stay useable for as long as 18 days.

  • MissMarin

    Certainly appreciate all the tips, Chef C and others! Petey, what exactly is a food-saver?

  • petey

    a food-saver is one of those machines you can vacuum package your foods in. There are different brands, I think one is called Seal-A-Meal. I bought a jar sealer attachment from Amazon and we do all our lettuce like this now

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