my fridge doesn't keep lettuce crisp. Help!!
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Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.
I find that washing and throughly drying lettuce leaves, and then putting them into a ziploc bag with some paper towels before you put them in the fridge helps keep them crisp.
While Peter no longer works for Food52 he still thinks up ways to make the website better.
I know it's a *very* expensive solution, but when I moved some years back the house had a Sub-Zero fridge and I have to say, I've never seen produce stay fresh so long in my life. A bouquet of fresh herbs standing in a glass of water on a shelf looks brand new 2 weeks later. A head of lettuce stay crisp for at least 10 days.
Maybe it's not the answer now, but if you ever move or renovate or need a new fridge, consider splurging.
I have a solution midway between Peter & Merrill's: Tupperware Fridgesmart Containers. Seriously, these things are like magic. We wash & chop all our vegetables, including lettuce & greens, on grocery day, put them in these containers & they stay fresh for up to 2 weeks: http://tinyurl.com/krqcft
I use the same technique as Merrill for sturdy lettuce like romaine, but for more delicate leaves (especially ones that come on small or tight heads), I often leave the head intact, and stick a couple paper towels in the bag with the whole head of lettuce. Sometimes I leave the bag cracked open, which seems to help.
What Merrill and Rivka said are great guidelines. And actually, leaving the bag open has been key for crisp lettuce. I line a large ziploc bag with paper towels and put the lettuce in, and then only partially zip the bag closed. It lets the lettuce breathe to stay fresh a bit longer.
True story: I have 30-year-old Tupperware (Iceberg) lettuce and celery keepers. They are older than two of my sons. They work. I have a feeling that any container with a tight-fitting lid would also work.
First and foremost, purchase the freshest lettuce available. Whether looseleaf or head luttuce, look at the stem--the cut end should be be white or beige, not brown or rust-colored. If it's brown, it's already a week old. Beware--some grocers make a fresh cut every day, so you also need to look for signs of wilting or spotting on the leaves.
I go through a lot of lettuce, too much for a gallon zipper bag. When I come home from the grocery, the greens go into a sink full of cold water. As each type is removed from the water, I shake it gently and pull apart the leaves, picking them over as I go along. The leaves are placed on paper toweling and get placed in a clean grocery bag, which is loosely twisted shut.
For Iceberg (head) lettuce, remove the core (I cut it out with a knife, but I've been known to slam the stem end squarely on the counter a time or two to loosen the core). Fill the lettuce with cold tap water, then turn it upside-down to drain. Wrap in plastic or place it in a bowl with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate at the bottom of the refrigerator. (If your vegetable drawer is positioned in the middle of your refrigerator, keep the lettuce on the bottom shelf where it's colder.) You can probably get it to last a week or 10 days, but why? Eat as much of it as you can while it's at its freshest, before the nutrients begin to deteriorate.
Anita is a vegan pastry chef & founder of Electric Blue Baking Co. in Brooklyn.
I am not big on product placement OR gadgets, but years ago, I bought a salad globe at Bed, Bath & Beyond. It is a plastic globe that has ridges in the bottom. You just chop the bottom off the lettuce, rinse the leaves, and put them in the globe with the leaves sticking up as if the bunch was still intact.
All the water drips down below the ridges, so the leaves stay dry but have the reserve of water at the bottom to keep them fresh. I am not kidding, my lettuce can last up to a week and be good as the day I bought it.
I love that dang thing! Even blogged about it a while ago, along with some tips about keeping other types of produce fresher longer:
Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking
I 'm pretty interested to learn what Peter Steinberg has to say. I've never paid big bucks for a refrigerator, and I'd always wondered what made Sub Zero so popular.
I can go him one better on spending money to have fresh vegetables though--my "advice" would be to move to California. While I'm not seriously advocating it, when I moved west, I was astonished by how much longer vegetables kept in a land that didn't include coast-to-coast transport. There's no need for gadgets there.