How long does lettuce last?

Lettuce is the main ingredients of many salads, including the popular and delicious caesar salad. For people who want to get some veggies in their diet, without spending time on making salads, it can be added on top of pretty much any sandwich. In this article we go through storage, shelf life and signs of spoilage of the most popular kinds of lettuce: leaf, iceberg, romaine and butter.

Lettuce mix fresh from the garden
Photo by Stacy Spensley on Flickr.

How to store lettuce?

While all types of lettuce are often sold in the not-refrigerated section of the store, you should keep it in the fridge after buying. Unless, of course, you plan to use the whole thing in a day or two. If that’s the case, storing it in room temperature shouldn’t do much harm to the green veggie. When in the fridge, keep lettuce in a loosely closed plastic bag (it often comes in one). Wash it only before eating or using in a dish.

Can you freeze lettuce?

Since lettuce is very high in water content, freezing is generally not recommended. For the same reason we usually don’t freeze salads. If you, however, use shredded lettuce in a cooked dish, it should freeze just fine, provided the dish itself is freezer-friendly.

How long does lettuce last?

Lettuce lasts for a few days up to over a week, depending on the type of lettuce we’re talking about. Iceberg and romaine lettuce last the longest, between 7 to 10 days. Leaf (or looseleaf) lettuce is next and lasts for up to a week. From the most popular types of lettuce, butter lettuce lasts the shortest: about 5 days.

Please note that the numbers above are only an approximation and a general guideline. The actual number of days the lettuce will be fine to eat depends on when it was harvested, how long it sad on the shelf and how was it stored before you’ve bought it. Because of that, it’s really important to choose the best looking lettuce when buying. That will ensure it lasts quite a few days and you’ll use all of it even if you eat a few leaves a day.

Fresh greens at an outdoor market
Photo by Peter Feghali on Unsplash.

How to tell lettuce is bad?

Each head of lettuce will likely have some leaves with bruises or color changes. Just discard those leaves when preparing the veggie.

When lettuce sits for too long in the fridge it slowly starts to become slimy and mushy. When that’s happening, throw it out. If anything is wrong in how it looks (besides bruises and slight discolorations), discard it too. Finally, if it smells funny, get rid of it. Generally speaking, if the green veggie was in the fridge for over 2 weeks, it’s safe to assume it’s far past its prime and should go to the dumpster.

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