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Everything You Need to Know About Washing Lettuce

Everything You Need to Know About Washing Lettuce

Words Diana Levey

Fresh, crisp greens are the goal of every salad-maker. Find out how to wash and dry your lettuce to be sure it’s safe, healthy—and tasty, too.

You know leafy greens are good for your body—they add nutrients to your diet as well as fiber that can help you feel fuller longer. But washing salad greens can feel like a real chore, and storing them properly to keep your salad fresh longer is tricky.

Pre-washed lettuce can be a great option when you’re in a time crunch, but if you’ve ever wondered whether the bagged variety is truly clean or if you should wash it again, you’re not alone. The answer: It’s probably fine, but to be safe, wash (or re-wash) all lettuce before using it in your salad, whether it’s straight from the garden or the supermarket shelf.

OXO salad spinner

Don’t worry, washing and drying lettuce doesn’t take as long as you might think if you have the right tools in place. Using a salad spinner will give you a major head start, since it skips the hassle of leaf-by-leaf handwashing, and also seriously improves the efficiency of drying. It’s faster, takes up less counter space than the paper towel-blotting method and removes more water, too. (Soggy salads don’t just lose their crunchy appeal, they also can’t hold their dressing as well.)

Follow these easy steps to make sure your bowl of greens is fresh, clean and dry.

Step 1: Cut off the “core” or stem from lettuce types such as iceberg. Inspect the outer leaves and remove ones that look tough. Then check out the head itself and pull out any leaves that are wilted or full of holes in the case of spinach. For greens such as kale or chard, chop or tear large leaves into smaller pieces.

Step 2: Put the torn leaves into the colander of your salad spinner. Run cool water over the produce to wash it thoroughly. Toss the leaves with your hands if you’d like. Shake out the excess water.

adding water to salad spinner

Step 3: Place colander inside the salad spinner bowl. Fill the bowl with cold water and allow leaves to sit in the water for a few minutes more to loosen any remaining dirt particles. Remove basket and shake out water. Rinse out spinner bowl.

pumping salad spinner

Step 4: Place colander back in spinner bowl and top with the pump lid. Press down on the pump a few times so the salad spins dry. Our favorite part: The spinner not only saves counter space, it can be operated with just one hand.

Step 5: Push the button to stop the spinning. Remove your clean, dry lettuce from the colander. Rinse out the leftover dirty water in the bowl.

Step 6: Add clean greens to a bowl. We like to use the Salad Chopper and Bowl, which lets you easily chop a salad directly in the bowl.

Step 7: Once the salad spinner is washed and dried (yes, it’s safe for your dishwasher), press down on the pump and lock it into place, allowing you to store it flat.

Keep It Crisp!

Leafy greens are delicate: Some, like butter lettuce and red leaf lettuce, last just three to five days after their date of purchase. Other varieties, such as romaine and iceberg, can last 10 days, while hardier greens like kale may last up to two weeks if properly stored. Here’s how to keep them fresh for as long as possible:

  • Keep your fridge at 35-38.
  • Place lettuce in the vegetable drawer or a GreenSaver container, which uses a carbon filter to trap ethylene gas and slow the aging process, and includes vents for maintaining optimal humidity levels.
  • After washing and drying lettuce, you can store it in the fridge for up to 36 hours.
  • Save time and space by re-using the bowl from the personal-size little salad spinner to store greens in your fridge. 

Now that you know how to properly store lettuce, how about the rest of your produce? Learn how to store your fruits and vegetables to get the most out of them and help them stay fresh longer.

Wondering what to make with your crisp, clean lettuce? Check out this delicious Chicken Caesar Salad recipe on our site.

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