cooking and eatingIf there is one vegetable that is difficult to store, it is lettuce. Nothing is sadder than a wilted lettuce leaf with your plate, and throwing it away is also a shame. But how do you make sure your leaves stay green and firm? And can you also freeze lettuce to keep it fresh longer?
Lettuce is not the easiest vegetable to keep for as long as possible. “If you buy lettuce and you don’t want to eat it right away, wait until you wash it,” says food scientist Nathalie Bernart, a fruit and vegetable researcher at the Belgian ILVO Institute of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. There is a layer on the leaves that helps the plant protect itself. The longer that layer is on the lettuce, the better. Once the lettuce is washed, it is best to dry it well if you still want to store it.”
Bernaert explains that water is a source of microorganisms. “The less water available, the less it will grow. That is why people often say that lettuce is best stored in a plastic bag under the refrigerator with a piece of kitchen paper inside. This advice actually follows the same logic: Kitchen paper will absorb moisture, so that no puddle forms.” of water at the bottom of the bag. This pool of water is a breeding ground for spoilage, just like the drops on the edge of the bag.”
There is a layer on the leaves that helps the plant protect itself. The longer that layer is on the lettuce, the better.
The less oxygen, the better
A head of lettuce or a bag of canned lettuce: which one can we keep the longest? At first glance, packaged lettuce will spoil faster, because it’s already been sliced,” Bernaert believes. “When the lettuce is cut, enzymes are released from the vegetable cells. They will oxidize with the oxygen, causing the lettuce to turn brown. However, lettuce is usually in bags filled with nitrogen and carbon dioxide. As long as the bag remains closed, the lettuce will not be affected by the oxygen. Normally found in normal air. Once the bag is opened, this feature disappears and the lettuce spoils faster.”
Does it make sense to store lettuce in a bag and inflate it yourself, so that ordinary air does not enter, but carbon dioxide from your breath does? “I doubt it,” says the nutritionist. There may be other bacteria in your breath. You do not know what effect it will have on the lettuce. I think it’s best to close the bag as quickly as possible and keep it as airtight as possible, so that as little oxygen as possible can get in.”
Lettuce with or without root ball?
You can buy a classic head of lettuce with the root ball still attached. This is more difficult in the kitchen, because the soil is still attached, but clumps can provide advantages over a “natural” crop, says Bernayrt. The fewer procedures the lettuce undergoes, the better it is stored. With the lettuce still on the root ball, there is still no cutting surface through which the head can lose moisture. So you keep the plant active for a little longer.”
If you have a crop with a cutting edge, then according to a nutritionist, there’s a clever hack to get around that. ,, You can make a cross at the bottom of the crop and put it in a bowl of water in the refrigerator. This is a way to keep the crop fresh for a longer time. This way he can absorb fresh water and continue feeding his leaves. This can help preserve the lettuce for longer than a few days.”
Do not freeze fresh lettuce leaves. During freezing, water crystals are formed that break the lettuce cells
In the fridge or freezer?
All types of lettuce stay fresh when kept cold. “A refrigerator temperature of around 4 degrees is ideal. Most fruits and vegetables are best stored at a slightly lower temperature. This certainly applies to vegetables with a high content of moisture, such as lettuce.”
And what if the lettuce is no longer fresh? “If you have a large quantity of lettuce that is no longer fresh enough for a salad, you can make soup out of it to freeze. Freezing fresh lettuce leaves is not a good idea. During freezing, water crystals form that break down the lettuce cells. When you thaw the lettuce afterward, water flows out of Those broken cells. With lettuce you will then be left with a loose cloth. You won’t have this problem with soup, because the cells have already mixed into pieces.”
9 tips to keep lettuce fresh for as long as possible
1. Buy lettuce as fresh as possible
2. It is preferable to choose lettuce with the root ball attached
3. Instead of buying a fresh head of lettuce from the lettuce from the bag
4. Wash the lettuce immediately before using it
5. Always spin thoroughly washed lettuce
6. Store lettuce at 4°C
7. Put a piece of household paper in the bag or box where you keep the lettuce
8. Extend the life of lettuce by making a cross at the bottom and storing it in a bowl of water in the refrigerator
9. Is your lettuce at risk of limp? Make it a soup so you don’t waste vegetables
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