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The Best Way to Wash and Store Greens So They Will Be Ready and Waiting For A Salad Every Day

Debra Redalia


Well washed and wrapped in a clean cotton towel, lettuce stays cool and crisp for up to a week in my refrigerator

Over the years one of the things I have discovered is that it is much easier to make meals and recipes from fresh ingredients if those fresh ingredients are prepped in advance and ready to go into a pot or pan or on a plate.

For the past couple of months, I have been making a point for Larry and I to each green salad each day, as many days as it is possible, given our busy schedule. Even though we miss some days each week, overall, we have both seen an improvement in our health and energy and our blood sugar is falling even though we are not strictly on our Rice Diet Revival diet. As a result of this Larry has had to lower the amount of insulin he is taking because he wakes up with his blood sugar too low.

The dietary recommendation is four to six cups of greens per person per day. We’re averaging about four cups on the days we have our salad. I have a big bowl that holds about 8 cups and I just fill it with greens, add whatever other vegetables are available that day, and add a bit of half-and-half honey and vinegar mixed together. Some days it’s just lettuce and dressing and chopped green onions. Larry likes it if I add a tablespoon of raisins. Just whatever. The important part is the greens.

I also chiffonade a bit of dino kale and add that too for texture, flavor, nutrients, and variety.

I call this our “tea time salad” because we eat it in the late afternoon before dinner. This also gives me a snack before preparing dinner. We really love doing this. Good quality lettuce makes it delicious. We’re not eating iceberg lettuce from the supermarket or salad that comes in a bag.

What makes this possible is washing the lettuce in advance and storing it properly so it stays fresh until the following Saturday when we next go to the farmer’s market to buy more lettuce. We always buy a variety, though we have our favorites that come and go with the seasons.

After many years of trial-and-error, here is the method that works best for me.

1. RINSE. Pull each leaf from the head of lettuce and rinse it thoroughly. Farmer’s market lettuce often still has bits of dirt or mud that need to be removed. Shake each leaf to remove drops of water and put it in a calendar. When the calendar is full, shake it to remove more water.

2. LAY OUT A COTTON OR LINEN TOWEL ON A FLAT SURFACE. I use both cotton and linen towels. Linen is more absorbent and durable for a towel. The important thing is to use a natural fiber towel and not one with synthetic fibers, which are not very absorbent.

3. BLOT AND WRAP. Put the lettuce on the towel in a single layer, then wrap the edges of the towel around to blot the water off the lettuce. It doesn’t have to be perfectly dry. You can add more lettuce and blot again. The important part is to lay the lettuce out in layers and not in a pile, so you can blot each layer. After you have blotted a few layers of lettuce, wrap the long edges of the towel around the lettuce and then wrap the short edges toward the middle to make a packet. Then turn it over so the open end is on the bottle. The top will probably be wet and this is OK.

4. STORE IN THE CRISPER BIN OF YOUR REFRIGERATOR. Holding the packets of lettuce from the bottom, put them in the crisper with the open side down. Over time, the water in the towel will evaporate and continue to keep the lettuce moist without making it soggy. When you are ready to make your salad, remove the packets carefully, holding them from the bottom, then turn them over to remove the lettuce. My recommendation is to make packets of mixed lettuces for two, of about eight cups lettuce each. This way all you have to do is open the packet and dump it in the bowl. I store my lettuces whole and then rip up the lettuce leaves at serving time because whole leave stay fresher.

By planning in advance and keeping your lettuce fresh, you can have a green salad at your fingertips any day of the week.