Can You Vacuum-Seal Lettuce and Vegetables Together?

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Sneak Preview: Many people ask me, “Can you vacuum-seal lettuce and vegetables together? Sometimes, but there are caveats.

vacuum-sealed jars of lettuce with fresh veggies laying next to them

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What if you could vacuum-seal lettuce and vegetables together in a canister or jar? The idea sounds like a time-saver. It’s the number one question I get in regards to how to keep romaine lettuce fresh.

Yes, you can vacuum-seal lettuce. But what about adding vegetables to that lettuce? Keep reading.

When somebody mentions “salad in a jar,” what do you think of?

Most of you probably picture layered salads inside of Mason jars. They usually include dressing and various types of lettuce along with many and various veggies.

Where are the layers?

When I first started this website in 2009, all my co-workers called my vacuum-sealed salads “Salad in a Jar.” Unfortunately, the name stuck.

vacuum-sealing jars of cut lettuce

That was almost 12 years ago. Now, people ask me if they can vacuum-seal their layered salads with the dressing and vegetables added to the same jar of lettuce.

It’s a reasonable question. After all, who eats lettuce alone and calls it a salad?

vacuum-sealed jars of romaine and radicchio without added veggies or fruit
These jars contain chopped romaine and radicchio. The vacuum-sealing process works best with sturdy lettuce.

Most people who do layered salads do not vacuum-seal their salads, and that’s for the best. Here’s why.

What happens if you vacuum-seal lettuce with veggies?

Additional veggies limit the amount of time you can store the lettuce.

Carrots will last several days. However, delicate vegetables, like cucumbers, often become slimy and disgusting within two or three days.

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When packed by itself, plain cut romaine lettuce will usually keep for a week, even up to two weeks if it’s good and fresh.

Washed and cut lettuce that stays fresh for ten days can be VERY CONVENIENT.

What about vacuum-sealing other kinds of lettuce or spinach?

In my experience, romaine lettuce, especially the hearts, maintain their freshness the best when vacuum-sealed. Radicchio also holds up as well. On the other hand, spinach, butter lettuce, mixed greens, and the like are too fragile to store under vacuum pressure for more than a day or two.

3 reasons why I don’t vacuum-seal fruits or vegetables together with lettuce:

1. 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 eleven years, so occasionally, I get weary of the whole vacuum-packing process. However, I have not grown tired of eating it nor of the waist-preserving benefits. So I continue.

When lunchtime rolls around, and I’m starving for something “right now,” I’m mighty happy I took 20 minutes out of my weekend to prepare 6-10 jars of lettuce. Consequently, I only have to grab a jar from the fridge and dump it into a bowl.

2. 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 with habits I could sustain for LIFE.  So they 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?

3. 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 what I’m craving at the moment.

My thought process:

How will I know what I want in my salad a week ahead of time? Sometimes I use warmed-up leftovers that taste good with lettuce, such as Chinese take-out. No dressing is needed.

Here are some ideas for quick-to-add extras:

  • Dried fruits such as dried cranberries, raisins, or dried cherries
  • Fresh veggies like carrots, tomatoes or cucumbers
  • Dried veggies like sun-dried tomatoes
  • Toasted Nuts
  • Seeds like flax, sesame, or chia
  • Foil packages of tuna or salmon
  • Leftover chicken salad, ham salad or egg salad
  • Leftover beef roast, rosemary chicken, or pulled ham
  • Fresh grated Parmesan, blue cheese, or Gorgonzola

More than anything, I crave variety.

Summary:

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. But of course, for some people, that doesn’t matter. You decide.


Read more about vacuum-sealing lettuce into glass jars

If you have questions or suggestions, email me privately to Paula at saladinajar.com. Hope to see you again soon! Paula

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34 Comments

  1. The Café Sucré Farine says:

    You’re so smart Paula, you really have this whole thing down to a science, and an easy science at that!

    1. Chris,
      You are right–very easy.

      By the way, congratulations on your new grandson–in process. So exciting!!

  2. I haven’t done any *salad in a jar* yet but this is a great post to bookmark should I decided to one day.

  3. Such good advice for the newcomers, Paula. For me, adding other ingredients just cuts down on shelf life. I make 8-10 quarts of lettuce at a time, and a week later, it’s as fresh as the day I made it. In the beginning I tried adding onions, red peppers, and the results were NOT good. The shelf life was compromised and the lettuce took on the flavors of the other ingredients and did not taste fresh! Great advice for those just getting started. I’ve been doing this six months now, every single week, and I love, love LOVE it!!!

    You’re the BEST!!!!

    1. Thanks for the confirmation Jan. Glad to hear you are still enjoying it.

  4. I love your salad in a jar method. And I like the way a little radicchio brightens the green color of the romaine. It stores in the jars as long as the romaine does. You won’t need much radicchio. I usually just peel off and shred or chop 2 to 4 leaves from a head of radicchio for each head of romaine and wash them together in my salad spinner so they’ll mix evenly with the romaine. I do often trim out the all-white parts, but it’s not necessary. When I’m feeling lazy, I just slice off some shreds right from the head and call it a day. The leftover radicchio head keeps a long time in the refrigerator, wrapped in a damp paper towel. I’d encourage you to give radicchio a try. It gives the salad so much eye appeal and those dark red leaves add extra nutritional value as well.

    1. Rita,
      I’m so glad you wrote. I have not tried radicchio. If it keeps as long as the Romaine, I’m in! Going to try it this week.

  5. HI, MY NAME IS VIOLETTA, I AM ITALIAN AND I FOUND YOU ON PINTEREST. I APPECIATED A LOT YOUR SALAD IN A JAR, THAT I WHANT ABSOLUTELY FOLLOW YOU IN THIS ACTION. THANKS A LOT FOR SHARING IT.

  6. Grace Sevilly says:

    I agree that adding other veggies to a lettuce jar significantly reduces the storage time, especially adding tomatoes. Tomatoes really spoil quickly.

  7. Stephanie says:

    Hi! I finally got my wide-mouth sealer in and am just starting my first batch of salad-in-a-jar. I have a stupid question. We tried getting one of the lids off so my son could actually eat it, and couldn’t get it off. Finally, I just barely used an old bottle opener, but can’t do that anymore because it left a dent and is going to bend the edge all up. How do you “just pop off” the lid??? I can’t wait to make use of this wonderful idea, but we need to be able to get in the jars. 🙂

    1. Stephanie,

      The lids are most difficult to pop off right after you prepare the jars. I just use my fingernails but I use to use a bottle opener. A new bottle opener, the larger type with a rounded end, might help. You’ll get the hang of it with a little practice.

      1. Mrs. Baum says:

        Hi,
        Just like any canning lid. Just use a bottle opener gently on the lid and pops off. I do a quite a bit of home canning. My husband even found a way to just use the band to get the lid off with no damage to the lid. I can’t quite get that one down. Just be gentle and you can reuse the lid for this kind of application. Make sure to mark your lid so you don’t try to use it in a “real” canning-preserving method.

    2. I also nicked the lid with a can opener and was worried about it then nicking the interior of the FS wide mouth jar sealer.

      About a month later I stumbled upon this YouTube video using the flat end of a bamboo chopstick to break the vacuum seal. This fellow learned the tip from a Yahoo FoodSaver group. I’ve been using my “to go” chopstick successfully. No dings or nicks!
      The video is here: http://youtu.be/EWvze7gIuzE

      1. A chopstick? How cool is that!

  8. An FYI…I just purchased the Foodsaver and in the user’s manual it says the following should NEVER be vacuumed packed: fresh mushrooms, onions, garlic and soft cheeses (such as brie) due to the risk of anaerobic bacteria. I was going to put red onion in with the romaine…but think I’ll pass on that!

  9. what other stuff can be packed like this in a jar? you stated strawberries and squash. we Rv for about a week at a time and this would take up less room than the heads of lettuce.l can you use other lettuces.
    thank you
    Gail miller

    1. Hi Gail,
      There are many things you can vacuum-pack but some, definitely not. The only lettuce I vacuum-pack is romaine and raddichio. Iceberg may work but I’m not a fan so I don’t buy it. Spring mix and spinach have not worked well for me. Besides googling, I can only recommend that you experiment.

  10. Can you tell me where I can get the dohickey that goes over the jar and the hand held sealer? I’ve looked at local websites (Wal-mart, Bed/Bath) and came up empty. Much appreciated!!

    1. You can find them on Amazon last time I looked.

  11. Hi, Paula–Found your website on Pinterest and think your salad in a jar is truly inspired. I’m retired, so the lunch time application is limited–but I live in a family who thinks salad must be served with each supper. The quart size jars didn’t fit the bill–just not big enough–but I can. The mason quart sized jar is not the largest canning jar out there. I buy 1/2 gallon size jars at Hobby Lobby to pack my salad. I usually make enough to last 3 or 4 days but it’s still a real time saver. Two–I like to mix my greens and 3 or 4 day limit is perfect to make sure it’s pristine when opened.

  12. Hi Paula,
    I found your site via Pinterest, and never thought learning how to store lettuce could be so interesting!

    My main job in the kitchen when I was growing up was making the salad – and I hated it! Always have since then. I’ve often thought about preparing the lettuce ahead of time, but you know how that works out!

    Now, with your help, I can do that. Prepare it once and I’m done, while knowing it will stay fresh. Thank you so much. I’m off to dig my half-gallon jars out of the attic….

  13. Wendy Hampton says:

    At last a way to prepare salad and have it ready when i want it! I used my glass jars the lettuce, cut up celery and carrots etc. It didn’t brown, it isn’t mush, it’s crisp and fresh. Thanks so much for sharing this tip.

  14. Nidhi Bhansali says:

    Hi Paula
    Loved ur idea of vaccum packing salads in advance. I luv salads but d idea of chopping n packing each time is just so upsetting that i instead chose to be without it. But the way u do it seems pretty convenient n I hope to try this soon. I would like to know how you vaccum pack d dressing. May I request u to plz make a video on d same.
    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Nidhi,
      I don’t vacuum pack my salad dressing. No need to. It will stay fresh without being vacuum-packed.

  15. I recently experimented by shredding cabbage, sealing it in a half-gallon Mason jar, and storing it in the refrigerator. The cabbage retained its fresh flavor, and was quick to combine with the dressing a few minutes before serving the meal.

    1. Oops … forgot to mention this was for making cole slaw.

  16. Oops again … It stayed fresh 3 whole days for this experiment. In the future, I plan to test filling the jar, sealing it, taking out small portions, then resealing the jar. Our family eats cole slaw 2-3 times every week and, while I don’t mind the shredding, I would prefer to spend less time cleaning up.

  17. Lewis Britton says:

    I have been purchasing the mixed bagged salad at the grocers. I have been vacuum sealing it with great results. I put a half sheet of paper towel under and on top of the salad. Testing shows I get 14 days before any changes. I just read that you shouldn’t vacuum seal cabbage. My salads contain cabbage. Should I switch to cabbage free ? Also I vacuum seal red onions and cucumbers the same way and they stay fresh for 10 days. Do you think this is unsafe?

    1. Unsafe? If the veggies don’t smell bad or turn mushy, I think you are safe. I am surprised the cucumbers don’t go bad on you under vacuum-seal. Maybe it depends on the variety and original freshness. At any rate, sounds like you have found a system that works for you. High Five!!

  18. Matthew Barrett Marshall says:

    I’ve been vacuum sealing my salads in a jar for many years now. I usually get about 3 weeks of freshness that way. What really helps to get extra time before it all goes bad is to put a cracker in the jar before sealing. It helps to soak up the moisture which is what seems to make the lettuce spoil.

    1. Hi Matthew,

      A cracker? I have never thought or heard of this before. Question: Are you slicing the lettuce or putting it into the jar uncut? Does it matter what kind of crackers? I will give this a try. Thanks for writing.

  19. Do the jar lids need to be replaced after each use?

    1. No, they only have to be replaced if you use them to heat seal or they get rusty.

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