Anyone who's ever bought lettuce, whether whole or chopped, knows that it's very perishable in the refrigerator. Fortunately, detecting lettuce that has gone rotten is very easy. The appearance of brown spots, wilted leaves, and a sour aroma are some of its characteristics. Remove rotten leaves as soon as possible so they don't spread all over the lettuce. Store leftover lettuce properly in the refrigerator to make it last longer.
Method 1 of 2: Recognizing Lettuce Starting To Rot
Step 1. Look for brown or black leaves that indicate decay
Discoloration is a very clear sign. Normal lettuce is usually light green or yellow in color, although varieties like Red Coral have purple leaves. When black spots appear on the lettuce surface, the vegetable is rotten. Lettuce that has faded in color is usually sticky and smells bad.
Brown spots on lettuce are usually harmless if consumed. You can also remove the area if the rest of the lettuce is still fresh
Step 2. Throw away any sour-smelling lettuce
The fresh lettuce has almost no smell at all. You can smell the soil that was used to grow it. The lettuce that smelled bad was rotten. The scent is so strong that it's easy to spot.
The smell is so foul that you won't want to eat the lettuce, and this is accompanied by discoloration and mucus on the leaves
Step 3. Examine the lettuce leaves for shape
Fresh lettuce has a stiff and crunchy texture. Over time, the lettuce will turn soft, runny, and curly. You can recognize these changes just by looking at or touching the leaves. The leaves may not be wet, but the lettuce has started to rot as the leaves curl.
- The lettuce will curl before it turns brown. You should throw it away or use it as soon as possible.
- Lettuce that curls is safe to eat if it is not rotten. You can try soaking them in ice water for 30 minutes to restore their crispness.
Step 4. Touch the lettuce leaves to make sure they are not wet
If the leaves don't look rotten, pay attention to their texture. You may be able to see or touch the liquid on the leaves. A sticky or slippery liquid will come out of the old lettuce and indicate that it is mushy or rotten.
Even though the wet leaves may still be safe to eat, they don't taste as delicious. The leaves will feel mushy when they are curled
Step 5. Discard any bags of lettuce that look bloated or wet
You can't smell or touch the lettuce before opening the bag, but you can see some signs of spoilage. The bag will swell due to the liquid that comes out of the leaves. You may see puddles of water gathering in the bag.
- Water creates an ideal breeding ground for bacteria and fungi. So, don't eat the lettuce.
- You may be able to see brown spots in the bag of rotten lettuce. You can also try opening the pouch. Lettuce will smell bad and disgusting when it's spoiled.
Step 6. Taste the lettuce to make sure it is not sour
Find the part of the lettuce that looks safe to eat and take a small bite. You know the fresh, juicy taste of lettuce that is still good. Lettuce that has been spoiled will taste like rotten lettuce. The taste is so strong, sour, and pungent that it makes you want to throw up.
Don't eat lettuce that has gone sour. Throw away the vegetables as soon as possible
Method 2 of 2: Storing Lettuce Properly
Step 1. Store the lettuce whole without cutting it
Whole lettuce tends to last longer than cut lettuce. You don't have to do anything to save it. Leave the vegetables whole, then store in a cool, dry place in the refrigerator. Whole lettuce can last up to 10 days this way.
- The vegetable rack is a good place to store whole lettuce, but not all refrigerator models have it.
- You can also wrap the lettuce in a paper towel to absorb water which can cause spoilage.
- Keep lettuce away from fruits that produce ethylene, such as bananas and tomatoes.
Step 2. Place the chopped lettuce in a plastic container lined with paper towels
Place 2 or 3 sheets of kitchen paper in the bottom of the plastic container. If you don't have a plastic container, you can use a sandwich bag. Place the lettuce leaves on a paper towel, then cover with another sheet of paper towels. The tissue will absorb the liquid and keep the lettuce crispy for a long time.
- Close the storage container tightly when finished. This will help prevent the build-up of water and gas. However, even unwrapped lettuce will stay fresh if stored on a vegetable rack.
- You can also use this method for cut lettuce sold in bags. The liquid doesn't come out of the sealed bag so the lettuce can rot faster.
Step 3. Store the lettuce in a cool, dry place in the refrigerator
Make sure the area is well ventilated to prevent liquid from building up on the lettuce. The vegetable rack is the best place. If you don't have one, store the lettuce on the front of the shelf and away from fruits that contain ethylene, such as bananas and tomatoes. Leaf lettuce usually lasts up to 5 days, but it can take longer if stored properly.
- Be careful when storing lettuce in the back of the refrigerator. In addition to making lettuce difficult to find, cold winds in the refrigerator can also damage the vegetables.
- You can also transfer the lettuce container to the freezer. Because lettuce contains a lot of water, it's not always crunchy, but it can still be used for cooking.
Step 4. Change the paper towels used to store the lettuce every day
The kitchen towels will turn damp as they absorb water from the lettuce surface. You can change it when it's wet, but it's best to change it every day. You may be able to keep the lettuce fresh longer this way.
When changing kitchen paper towels, remove any curled or rotting leaves so they don't damage the entire lettuce
Step 5. Wash lettuce before use
Wash lettuce by filling a sink with tap water, then stirring the vegetables in the water by hand for a few minutes. This method can remove the soil stuck to the lettuce. Wash the lettuce as needed to keep the remaining lettuce from getting too wet.
- Water can cause the lettuce to soften and rot. So, avoid it as much as possible.
- You can wash lettuce under running water, but keep in mind that lettuce is very fragile and can scratch easily. Scratched or damaged lettuce leaves can cause them to rot more quickly.
Step 6. Dry the lettuce thoroughly before storing it
If any lettuce remains, it should be drained before storing. The easiest way to do this is to lay the lettuce on top of a salad spinner. Rotate the tool until the lettuce dries.
You can also pat the lettuce with a paper towel or wrap it in a towel so you can gently knead it until the water is gone
- Whole lettuce generally lasts longer than chopped lettuce, but proper storage can make it last longer.
- Lettuce placed in the freezer will curl due to the high water content. However, you can still use lettuce for cooking and seasoning food.
- Lettuce is very sensitive to an invisible decay gas called ethylene produced by some types of fruit, including peaches and pears.