The Best Way To Store Lettuces & Other Greens (A Controversial Method)

September  8, 2015

If you can make room in your heart (and your fridge) for this method, your salad greens will last weeks (!) longer than they do now.

Are you the kind of person who gets to the market on time, washes your greens on time, dries and stores them neatly, and then uses them all up in beautiful salads before their time runs out? If yes, proceed to another article. Or go to the beach, because you don't need articles.

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Or are you like me, buying greens with good intentions, then getting too rushed or distracted or tired to care for them (or eat them), leaving some portion to always, always get thrown out? There’s hope for us!

More: The natural life spans of your fruits and vegetables.

I probably spotted this tip in a comment or Hotline thread on Food52 and it probably came from AntoniaJames: Wash and spin your lettuces, then stick the whole contraption in the fridge, lid and all. You can wash your greens right in the spinner by filling the cavity with water, swishing the leaves around to shake off stubborn grit, then lifting out the basket to drain off the sooty water. Repeat if it's really sooty, until the water comes out as clean as you want it to. 

This method might sound silly and space-hogging, but is the single best way to keep delicate greens living well past their natural lives. There's enough moisture left pooled in the bottom of the spinner to keep the leaves hydrated and prevent them from withering, but not enough to sit on their surface and inspire rot. 

There are only two problems: The spinner takes up a big portion of your fridge, and your salad spinner is out of commission if you need it for something else. But you'll be happier if your fridge isn't packed to the gills anyway, and, once this method becomes habit, you can buy a backup salad spinner for $20. Also, if you are a person like me (see above), this is all worth it.

This hyperbaric chamber of sorts has kept my spinaches and arugulas and lettuces—greens that might normally wilt in as soon as a day—resilient and delicious for up to a month. Should I be confessing that I've left spinach uneaten in my fridge that long? Probably not. Are there good reasons to go through greens so slowly? No. Will you thank me every time you open that container and scoop out a handful of clean, sprightly, ready-to-eat leaves to stir into salads or soups or frittatas or stir-fries anytime you dream it so? Yes. 

Photos by Bobbi Lin

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Carol Wrobleski
    Carol Wrobleski
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  • Dawn DiGangi
    Dawn DiGangi
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  • Your Other Mom
    Your Other Mom
I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."


Carol W. August 23, 2021
I've been doing this for years — works incredibly well for kale as well as softer greens. I have the smaller version of XO's fantastic salad spinner, so even with my pint-sized fridge, I still can squeeze it in. Well worth it!
Deanna November 25, 2020
Oh my goodness - genius. Thank you ever so much.
Dawn D. July 16, 2017
Who knew? Thanks for sharing this tip...will try it today!
PattiWho July 14, 2017
Roll washed lettuce up tight in paper towels then put in plastic bag! Stays great for a long time and space saving too!
Mary H. February 14, 2021
I also use this method, only with more eco-friendly thin flour-sack tea towels. I place the individual washed and spun leaves on a towel, then place another towel over them, then gently roll up the towels and put them in a large ziplock bag. Separating the leaves from each other is important to maintain freshness. The towels dampen naturally and to just the right degree from the leftover water from the greens. I have dozens of towels and use them for everything from greens storage to squeezing liquid from grated potatoes and onions for making latkes. Indispensable!
Ellen G. August 30, 2021
I use linen or cotton rags/towels too. It's VERY important to use unscented laundry detergent though or else the lettuce tastes like detergent and is unusable. Never fabric softener either!!
Your O. June 11, 2016
I have a Progressive Salad Keeper. I wash/spin my greens, then store them in the Keeper. Frees up my spinner. It takes up a bit of space, but it's oblong with a flat top. I've carved out a permanent berth for it on one of the fridge shelves, as I use it all year long. I change the water out periodically, so greens keep for a few weeks Have saved lots of green...both leafy and moolah! PS: I also recommend an herb keeper...works on the same principle. Again, it takes up space, as it's the size of a pitcher; but it, too, has it's own parking space. Dill, parsley, cilantro, tarragon...they all keep beautifuully...after washing in my always available spinner! Teehee!
Maggie September 19, 2015
I've always done this
beejay45 September 18, 2015
I guess Antonia grew up in California as I did because we've been doing this since salad spinners came along. And actually, my mom learned this trick from a transplanted Brit friend. If you eat as much salad as we always have here in California, the fridge space is not an issue...and salad spinners do come in various sizes...and work better than the Tupperware mentioned. ;)
beejay45 July 14, 2017
Since I made this comment I have been reminded that before we had salad spinners, we had those funky wire baskets that collapse to lie flat. My mom would open hers up, add lettuce and swirl back and forth through a soup pot full of water. Then came the fun part -- if we weren't pressed for time, I got to take the basket out to the yard and swing it back and forth to get rid of the excess water. What we didn't use for the meal went back into the basket, now lined with a flour sack towel and into the fridge. I think those baskets cost about fifty cents when I was a little kid, but they were very forward thinking actually.
Kristen C. September 16, 2015
Tu tu! I have a KristenCobb.TowerGarden.com And have fresh produce daily!
Sharon September 17, 2015
But you still have to wash your lettuce!
Sue R. September 16, 2015
I wash my greens and dry, then I put them into a zip lock type bag with a moistened paper towel. Again they stay crisp at least three weeks. Fortunately, I have chickens so I never waste any produce! :)
Maggie September 19, 2015
I have tired this and the leaves will still get slimy
Kate S. September 20, 2015
I do this as well, and the greens can last for weeks. The key is to really spin them as dry as possible, and make sure the paper towel isn't soaking wet. I've also swapped the paper towel out over time, and removed any wilted or browned leaves to insure the rest last longer. I don't have room for the spinner in my fridge, but with this method, I can stack three sacks of greens and keep them all fresh.
Wallis P. November 23, 2015
Sue left out a step, to prevent slimy leaves, store them upright. Meaning the stem down with the moist towel, so the leaves can breath. You will also see some new growth. With spinach, put into large zip locks, don't pack,leave very loose and turn and rearrange the leaves in the bag, every couple days, so they can breath. Spinich will last for weeks and be crisp. Yummy.
Jeanette E. September 14, 2015
I keep my unwashed greens in potato chip bags (with foil coating) and they are fresh for more than a week.
Monica B. September 14, 2015
My fridge is way too packed to hold a container of lettuce and air. Debbie Meyer Green bags do the trick for me.
Brocka September 13, 2015
As soon as any lettuce starts to wilt, you can easily toss into the sauté pan too with oo or butter. And again, doesn't need to be consumed then. Partially wilted by negligence can become leftovers further delayed. No sense in wasting ever. Most dark green, colored lettuces are better assimilated nutritional when heated, not raw. Like fat soluble vitamins need to be eaten with fat (olive oil, coconut oil)
Sharon September 13, 2015
I just happen to have a spinner of lettuce in the fridge right now. I discovered this by accident a few years ago when I ran out of counter space and stuck the washed & spun lettuce and container in the fridge. I left it there and grabbed lettuce out only as needed. I was amazed at how crisp and fresh it stayed for well over a week. Only con is how much room it takes up, but I can always manage.
Heidihelm September 13, 2015
Progressive makes a lettuce keeper that works exactly the same way and keeps your spinner out of the fridge - it's oval with a snap on rubber lid and bottom - there's a compartment for water in the base. It fits a little better in the fridge and works beautifully.
Cecile September 13, 2015
Terrific info. Thx!

Windischgirl September 13, 2015
I use my salad spinner to wash all produce...I'll spin if I'm washing greens or fresh herbs, drip dry if it's something else. It's convenient for me to have a large bowl in which to soak those muddy potatoes, for example, and then have a colander to hold the freshly scrubbed ones. If I'm making soup, stew, ratatouille, etc., I can pile all the veggies in there in one go. I don't like washing my produce in a dishpan (soap residue?) or the sink (all sorts of gunk)...my salad spinner is produce only.
Colleen J. September 13, 2015
I must be living in a parallel universe.....my XOXO salad spinner came with a flat top lid and I just switch lids after cleaning my lettuce and take a 'first portion' of leaves for the salad I'm making and storing the rest of the head on a couple of paper towels inside the spin bin. This keep my lettuce for a week or more. If I need to use the spinner, I just lift the paper towel 'sling' out and after using the spinner - put the lettuce back. Easy-peasey. (And the friend of a lazy but good cook),
booglix September 13, 2015
This doesn't seem very controversial to me - anyone who has stored greens knows that you need to keep moisture in and airflow out!

If you find yourself using a plastic bag for any reason (don't have a salad spinner free, need to store more in the fridge, etc.), just blow air into the bag to make it as puffy as you can. The blow trick works by providing extra carbon dioxide for the greens to breathe, and you can do it with ziplock or loose bags (though ziplock are easier). Use a straw if you need to, and make sure the greens are slightly moist but not soggy. (I get the slightly 'ew' reaction, but our food comes into contact with our hands, our surfaces, and the air we breathe even before getting to the fridge. It's really not a big deal!)
marsha_finney September 13, 2015
Do you actually spin the lettuce dry before storing, or just lift the basket out of water and pour out water in bowl, leaving leaves wetter?
cook4fun September 13, 2015
spin the lettuce dry
cook4fun September 13, 2015
My favorite way to store lettuces as well. When I have too many to fit in the spinner, I rinse and dry and wrap the rest in towels and store in a plastic bag like Jennifer suggests. Love having crisp lettuce on demand for hummus wraps with a slice of avocado and perhaps a dab of pesto.
Jacques D. September 13, 2015
sticking your whole head of lettuce in a container with a few inches of water to cover the root and with a veggie bag over top and your lettuce will keep more than three weeks.