Preserving Lettuce

Preserving lettuce can be a frustrating thing. It starts going bad the minute you cut it up, if not the minute it was cut from the ground. You can buy “special” knives that are supposed to prevent the cut edges from turning brown. Sometimes you end up throwing over half a head away because the outer leaves have wilted. Or my personal favorite-when parts of it have just started to rot and turn into a black slime. Ugh.

When I got my FoodSaver I also bought the wide mouth jar attachment. I buy a lot of things in bulk and I thought it would be a great solution to store dry goods. At about the same time “Mason Jar Salads” were becoming the thing to do. The idea of putting everything in a jar and letting it sit for up to five days for perfect office lunches was not appealing to me. When I did work in an office every day I’d prepare my salad the night before and still leave many ingredients to be combined at lunch the following day. But what if you could prep your lettuce a week beforehand? So I gave it a go, and you know what? It works. Below you’ll read the steps to preserving lettuce.

First you wash and cut up all your lettuce. I normally do a mix of romaine varieties and/sometimes spring mix. Cut it up the way you like it. I prefer more of a “chopped” salad with pieces no bigger than 1.5″x1.5″. If you wash it make sure to dry it well using a salad spinner, towel, or let it air dry.

After the lettuce has been prepped, you want to fill your jars. You can pack them pretty full as long as you don’t crush the leaves.

Be sure that there is no lettuce on the rim of the jars and that they are dry, then place normal canning lids on the jars and process with the FoodSaver according to the manufacturer’s directions. One of the neat things about this is that a new pack of lids is going to last you quite awhile-unlike traditional canning you can reuse the lids until the edges get too bent out of shape from opening them.

The following pictures show a progression of 12 days and how the lettuce held up compared to traditional, plastic food storage. I was traveling for work, so there are some missing days. I didn’t open either container until the last day.

Day One: Everything is fresh and looks great!

Day Three: Everything still looks pretty good. There’s some moisture forming in both containers.

Day Four: Not a lot of change. There’s the barest hint of brown starting form on the edges of the lettuce in the plastic container.

Day Six: The edges of the lettuce in the plastic container are definitely looking brown. Other than some condensation in the glass jar, it still looks completely fresh.

Day Eight: The lettuce in the plastic container is definitely looking worse for wear. At this point I probably wouldn’t eat it. The lettuce in the glass jar still looks fine.

Day 12: On the left is the salad from the FoodSaver. It’s a little wilted, but definitely still edible and didn’t have a bad smell. The lettuce on the right is from the plastic container. It didn’t have a good smell, was very brown on the edges, and some of it had turned into the infamous black sludge. I’ll pass.

Close-up of lettuce from plastic container:

Close-up of lettuce from FoodSaver Glass Jar:

The verdict on preserving lettuce with the FoodSaver? It totally works. Normally I wouldn’t keep either past 7-10 days. By 12 days, even the lettuce from the glass jar was starting to wilt and it had quite a bit of moisture in it.

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