The number-one question I get regarding vacuum-packing lettuce in Mason jars is “What Happens if I Vacuum-Seal Lettuce and Vegetables Together?” Although I have answered this question several times, in bits and pieces, I decided it was time to devote an entire post to the subject.
Let me explain the title “Salad in a Jar”…
In more recent years, most of you have seen “salad in a jar” come to mean layered salads inside of Mason jars. They usually include dressing, various types of lettuce, along with many and varied veggies.
However, when I first started this little blog in 2009, all my co-workers called my vacuum-sealed salads “Salad in a Jar.” The layered salads were not popular at the time. Unfortunately, I chose that title for my blog and this extremely useful kitchen hack for preserving lettuce.
In a nutshell, “Salad in a Jar (My Way)” goes like this:
First, add rinsed and chopped lettuce to a Mason jar. Second, vacuum-pack it so the leaves will stay fresh and not turn brown for the next 7-10 days.
It makes sense that many people would try adding other foods to a jar holding only chopped lettuce. After all, who eats lettuce alone and calls it a salad?
Most people who do layered salads do not vacuum-pack their salads, and that’s for the best.
The answer to the question…
“What happens if you vacuum-seal lettuce with veggies?”
Additional veggies limit the amount of time you can store the lettuce.
Some veggies will last several days, like carrots. On the other hand, more delicate vegetables, like cucumbers, become rather slimy and disgusting within two or three days. This can vary, depending on their freshness going into the jar.
More delicate types of lettuce also fall into the latter category, e.g. spring mix, spinach, and Boston lettuce.
Plain cut romaine lettuce, when packed alone, will nearly always be good for a week. However, it can last up to two weeks if it was very fresh when you packed it. Believe me, washed and cut lettuce that lasts that long can be SO VERY CONVENIENT.
What about vacuum-sealing other kinds of lettuce or spinach?
In my experience, Romaine lettuce, especially the hearts, give the best results. Radicchio also holds up well. Spinach, butter lettuce, mixed greens, and the like are too fragile to store for a week under vacuum pressure.
Why I don’t vacuum-seal vegetables, (or fruits, herbs, nuts, or dressing) with lettuce:
Including cleaned and cut veggies increases preparation time.
This is the number one reason I don’t do it. I’ve been vacuum-packing my lettuce for over 7 years, so occasionally, I weary of the whole vacuum-packing process. However, I have not tired of eating it or of the waist-preserving benefits, so I continue.
When 6:15 in the morning rolls around and I’m getting ready for work, I’m mighty happy I took 20 minutes out of my weekend to prepare 6-10 jars of lettuce so I only have to grab a jar from the fridge for my lunch bag.
Addendum: I’ve now been vacuum-packing lettuce for 11 or 12 years. See this post for a discussion about maintaining this habit.
Adding anything but lettuce makes the process and habit less sustainable.
When I first came up with this idea, I was looking to maintain my ideal weight in a way I could sustain for LIFE. It had to be simple and relatively easy.
Despite the pretty pictures, adding veggies, not to mention salad dressing in the bottom, makes the whole process more complex, and therefore less likely to become a part of your routine over the long haul.
One girl told me she took about 2-1/2 hours to cut up several types of lettuce and vegetables. I wasn’t surprised to hear she doesn’t do it anymore. Who wants to keep that up?
Lettuce-only jars mean I can add whatever I’m in the mood for on any particular day.
Part of my eating philosophy is to consume exactly what I’m craving at the moment.
This is my thought process...
How will I know what I really want in my salad a week ahead of time? Sometimes I use warmed-up leftovers that taste good with lettuce, such as Chinese food. No dressing needed.
More often than not, I add dried fruits or vegetables and toasted nuts. Some days, I like fruit, nuts and a sweet dressing or a bit of blue cheese. Other days, I go down the savory road. More than anything, I crave variety.
If you still want to add other ingredients to your jars of lettuce, go ahead and try it. Just don’t expect your lettuce to last as long as advertised in the original An Amazing Way To Make Chopped Lettuce Last Longer post. For some people, that doesn’t matter. You decide.
This post was originally published in 2010. Pictures and copy updated May 2019.
An Amazing Way To Make Chopped Lettuce Last Longer
Vacuum-packing fresh-cut or chopped romaine lettuce in Mason jars will keep it fresh up to 10 days. It's "salad in a jar" my way.