The number-one question I get regarding vacuum-packing lettuce in Mason jars is “What Happens If I Add Extras to My Jars of Lettuce??” Although I have answered this question many times, in bits and pieces here and there, I decided it was time to devote an entire post to the subject.
Let me explain…
For many people, the concept of “salad in a jar” is salad dressing on the bottom of a Mason jar, then layers of lettuce and veggies on top. Seal it by screwing on a lid.
However, my original use of the term “Salad in a Jar” when I first started this little blog in 2009 was a little more basic.
“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.
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 many and varied veggies, too.
It makes sense that many people would try adding other foods to a basic jar of chopped lettuce. Most people who do this do not vacuum-pack their salads.
Without vacuum-packing, the jars of mixed content usually won’t store longer than 2-3 days. Exactly how long depends on the specific vegetables and varieties of lettuce used. If they do vacuum-pack, long-term freshness is compromised by the added ingredients because various ingredients last longer than others.
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.
As a result of all the questions I received, I started experimenting. The conclusions that follow are more philosophical than scientific.
You might be wondering…
“What Actually Happens If I Add Extras (like dressing and veggies) to My Jars of Lettuce?”
1. 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.
2. 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.
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 can keep that up?
3. Adding anything but lettuce significantly complicates things.
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.
4. 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 in the moment. So, 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.
Conclusion? 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.
Why the Lettuce Experiment Will Make Your Life EasierContinue Reading
How To Vacuum-Pack Lettuce for LessContinue Reading
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.Get the Recipe