Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Kitchen Tip: Keeping lettuce crisp longer

 Summertime is almost here, and what's better on hot summer days/evenings than a wonderfully crisp salad? However, if you're like me (and I'm not saying you are...) you're a lot more likely to have a salad if you don't have to wash and pick through your lettuce every time you want one. Also, sometimes I have the best of intentions and then the lettuce ends up going all wilty before I get to it. Every happen to you? If not, kudos to you! If so, this trick may help! 

First, you'll want to wash your lettuce off. I put all my lettuce, leaves separated into a sink full of water. Then I let it sit for a few minutes. Then I remove all the lettuce and see how junky the water is. I typically run a second bath (perhaps a third if the first batch of water looks really bad!) and let them soak for another few minutes.
 Then I take each leaf one at a time and place in a single layer on a flour sack towel. (Alternatively you can use paper towels, but I like it this way better... saves money! Plus I know that these towels aren't subjected to harsh chemicals, etc - just washed in my machine.)
 Once I have a layer, I fold the top of the towel down over the lettuce.
 Then I repeat with another layer of lettuce.
 I make sure to put a smaller piece on the outside... Because I then fold the very edge over, and roll up.
 I don't roll tightly... the lettuce just needs to have the layer of towel in between the leaves.
 Keep rolling until it is all rolled up.
 Then I set aside the first roll and repeat until all the leaves of lettuce are rolled up in a towel.
 I have about 2.5 heads of romaine in these 5 towels.
 Once all the lettuce is rolled up, I grab a kitchen towel (somewhat thicker) and spray it a bit with my sprayer to get it wet.
Then cover the rolls of lettuce in the towel. Typically for a bunch this big I would either separate it into 2 bunches or use 2 towels (but it is laundry time so I only had one...) Then I put it in the fridge. The key is to keep the outside towel damp so the lettuce stays crisp. Lettuce can be kept in the fridge this way for up to 2 weeks... depending on the lettuce and how fresh it was when you got it. I usually try to use it within a week or a week and a half, but I have had it stay good up to 2 weeks (making sure it stays damp!) 

It is best to do this the day you bring it home, but I have also waited a few days when I haven't had time the day of. This batch I had to remove a few of the outer leaves as they had started to wilt (after 4 days of sitting in my fridge!) You can also do this with fresh herbs such as cilantro and parsley... However that can be more of a pain since they are smaller leaves (I keep them on the stems when I do it!)

Then when you want to have a salad, you just have to unwrap a roll and tear up the lettuce.

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