What Keeps Cut Lettuce Fresh? Paper Towels vs. Vacuum-Sealing
Sneak Preview: What keeps cut lettuce fresh longer? This is the result of my paper towels vs. vacuum sealing experiment.
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So what is the best way to keep cut lettuce from going bad? Is it vacuum-sealing lettuce into a glass jar, or can you lay a paper towel inside it?
A reader left the following comment not long ago: “The food saver is expensive and a lot of effort. You can get the same result by placing half a paper napkin on top of your lettuce before you seal the jar. It absorbs the liquid, keeping the lettuce good for a solid week.”
I ran a simple test to determine if this reader was right. Keep reading to find out the results.
Can a paper towel replace vacuum-sealing lettuce into a glass jar?
The paper towel idea came from one of my first posts about vacuum-sealing cut lettuce. Preserving chopped romaine this way helps me avoid wasting money on lettuce-gone-bad.adthrive-in-post-video-player video-id=”gH8Iq0qE” upload-date=”Tue Jan 22 2019 00:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)” name=”How To Vacuum-Pack Chopped Lettuce To Prolong Freshness” description=”A tutorial showing how to vacuum-pack chopped lettuce into Mason Jars for prolonged storage up to 10 days. No brown edges or wilted leaves.”]
I’m used to these kinds of challenges from a select few commenters. I take them seriously.
You can read about two previous experiments. The first was a comparison of various attempts to keep lettuce fresh. The other was an experiment about cutting lettuce with a plastic knife.
How do I know when lettuce is going bad?
You can tell when lettuce is going bad when the edges turn brown. The leaves will become limp and thin as the lettuce dries out. The lettuce may take on an acrid odor.
The lettuce will stay fresh longer if you do not cut the leaves. Once you cut or chop the leaves, the edges will go bad quickly if not preserved. My answer to this problem is vacuum-sealing the chopped lettuce.
The deterioration process slows considerably when no oxygen is present in the Mason jar with the cut lettuce. With that in mind, let’s establish the rules for our little experiment.
Rules for comparing paper towels with vacuum sealing:
- Cut lettuce into small ready-to-eat pieces. That’s important. When I walk in the door, I want my lettuce salad ready for lunch in less than a minute. Easy-to-grab junk food is less tempting when I’m famished if I have a jar of chopped lettuce at hand.
- Store the jars in the same location in the same refrigerator. The jars are also filled with the same heads of lettuce, so the original freshness is the same.
In each picture, the paper towel jar is on the left, and the vacuum-sealed jar is on the right. As you can see in the first picture above, the cut romaine is equally fresh on Day 1.
Can you see that the paper towel sample is showing its age?
Which jar would you choose? (See random thought #4 below.)
- I can’t resist commenting on my reader’s assessment of the vacuum-sealing idea. Yes, vacuum-pack machines can be expensive. But I have written about two excellent alternatives that are much, much cheaper. See this post and this one, too. Reynolds Handi-Vac; Wide-Mouth Vacuum Attachment
- About the work involved: It may take an hour to prepare 5-6 jars the first time. But after a little practice, you should be able to reduce the time to 30 minutes or less.
- Consider the healthy eating habits you promote by making your salad easy to grab and eat.
- Eleven days is pushing it, even for vacuum-sealed lettuce. You may detect the slightest older-lettuce smell in a jar this old. But the smell is gone within a few seconds (when the oxygen hits it). You could always give the lettuce a quick rinse.
Warning: Always store vacuum-sealed cut romaine in the refrigerator. Make no mistake! Vacuum sealing is not a heat-processed canning procedure.
p.s. Thanks to the reader who left this comment. I always welcome new ideas and try as many as possible.
What would you like to read next about vacuum-sealing cut romaine into a Mason glass jar?
How To Keep Romaine Lettuce Fresh: Make it Easy to Eat More Salad
Yes, You Can Use a Handheld Vacuum-Pack Machine to Seal Lettuce Into a Jar
How To Vacuum-Pack Lettuce Into a Jar for Less Than $6 (Plus a Video)
Is a Plastic Knife a Substitute for Vacuum-Packing Lettuce?
Can I Add Other Foods to My Vacuum-Packed Jar of Lettuce?
If you have questions or suggestions, email me privately for a quick answer: Paula at saladinajar.com. Hope to see you again soon!
Paula Rhodes, author
I’m a retired home economist, wife, mother, grandmother, and creator of Saladinajar.com. I believe you don’t have to be a chef to find joy in creating homemade food worth sharing. Here you’ll find time-saving tips, troubleshooting advice, and confidence-inspiring recipes to make life in the kitchen more fun, appetizing, and satisfying.