Preview: Which method works better to keep cut lettuce fresh–Vacuum-sealing or plastic bags? Read the results of my test.
Not long ago, I wanted to see how long cut lettuce would last after being vacuum-packed in a Mason jar compared to other methods for preserving cut lettuce. So I experimented in my own lab kitchen. This is the result–with pictures. I hope you enjoy the read.
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In anticipation of post-Superbowl guilt and regret regarding food choices and excess, I’m revisiting the whole idea of vacuum-packing lettuce this week.
Several commenters on the first post published on this blog, An Amazing Way To Make Chopped Lettuce Last Longer, have asked questions about using other methods to preserve lettuce.
Remember, you can’t be sure how fresh the lettuce in the store is, and I realize this fact could be a factor. Nevertheless, I pretty much ignored that fact since it is out of my control. I always try to buy the latest date I can find–as I’m sure you do, too.
Setting up the experiment
On Sunday, January 17, I cleaned, chopped, and vacuum-packed Romaine lettuce fresh from the store. I always use a regular knife–no plastic knife or hand tearing for me. Unfortunately, I don’t have time or patience for that.
In addition to the vacuum-packed lettuce, I prepared a plastic bag full of lettuce with a paper towel to absorb moisture. I also packed lettuce in quart jars but did not vacuum pack it. Instead, I just screwed the lid on.
Want to know the best part?
As you can see, there are no brown edges on the right sample like the plastic bag lettuce and lettuce from the unsealed jar because there is no oxygen inside a vacuum-packed jar.
Let me reiterate that I stored all lettuce in the refrigerator for the entire two weeks.
Romaine was the only lettuce tested. I would expect results with other types of lettuce to vary.
Observations from this experiment:
1. Up until the fourth day, there doesn’t appear to be much difference in the brownness of the edges. However, the vacuum-packed lettuce is crisper and moister compared to the others.
2. Unsealed chopped lettuce goes downhill after four days.
3. If you do not cut the lettuce, the results may be different. However, my whole reason for vacuum-packing lettuce is to make a grab-and-go salad that requires absolutely no preparation on a busy workday morning. This means I have NO EXCUSE for not taking a healthy lunch–every single day.
What should I look for when purchasing a vacuum-pack machine?
1. If you want to pack lettuce, as I have shown, you ABSOLUTELY MUST have a wide-mouth lid attachment. You cannot pack lettuce in plastic bags.
You may also use plastic canisters sold with some systems, but my experience with them is bad. They crack. Quickly. Don’t waste your money. Besides, the glass quart jars are cheap, and you’ll want several of them.
2. Do you regularly shop at warehouse stores? If so, you can use it to freeze smaller portions. (Remember the plastic bags are expensive to buy.) Vacuum-sealed food does not turn icy as it does in plastic wrap or regular plastic bags.
3. Do you like to seal your flour, sugar, cornmeal, pasta, rice, etc.? Quart and half-gallon canning jars work well. Again you will need the wide-mouth lid attachment.
4. Do you like to keep your leftovers? If so, this is a great way to store them in the freezer while maintaining maximum freshness.
The meaning of all this…
If you don’t cook much, don’t buy much food, don’t think more than one day ahead about what you will eat, and/or have no interest in storing lettuce or fresh produce longer than 3-4 days, I would not recommend a vacuum-pack machine.
On the other hand, if you cook a lot, buy in quantity, or want to get serious about eating right, think about buying this Food Saver vacuum-pack machine.
Why not try it?
Vacuum-packing chopped lettuce in a Mason jar has made my life easier. Hoping it will do the same for you.
Posts related to vacuum-sealing cut lettuce
Yes, You Can Use a Handheld Vacuum-Pack Machine to Seal Lettuce Inside a JarHow 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 to Paula at saladinajar.com. Hope to see you again soon! Paula