November 7, 2009

Bionic Lettuce

I know this looks an awful lot like a Food Waste Friday photo, but it's not. Because if you look closely, that may not be the newest or freshest head of lettuce you've ever seen, but it's not ready to toss on the compost heap quite yet either.

My husband has been using this lettuce on his sandwiches for... more than a month! That's right, this lettuce is from a CSA delivery we received on October 5th (click here to see it in its delivery day glory) and I just took this photo this morning. According to the notes from our CSA, it was red leaf lettuce - fresh yes, but nothing advertised as "never wilting" or "lasts forever."

So why did this particular head of lettuce last over a month (and still going strong) in our refrigerator? Because of this fantastic TIP that I tried when it was wilting after the first few days: put it in WATER. It seems so simple, but it works wonders. I just put a bit of water in the bottom of the plastic bag, down where the root is, and the leaves perked up and this is the result all these weeks later. I just used maybe 1/4 cup of water at the most, and I freshened it every week or so.

I got this tip from the awesome Mrs. Green at the excellent My Zero Waste. Mrs. Green and her family of three are attempting to eliminate their waste, food and otherwise, and they tell others how to do it. Their website is a fantastic resource for recyling, reusing, and reducing waste. And it's fun! Being in Britain, I think they're a little ahead of the curve on this issue, so we can all be inspired and learn from them. For example, I just saw this post about recycling Tetra Paks. I can't wait until that happens here! We use so many products that come in Tetra Paks: soymilk, almond milk, chicken broth, and tomatoes.

Do you have any tips for keeping produce fresher, longer? Let us know in the Comments section. And thanks Mrs. Green!


Anonymous said...

Four Weeks?? That's crazy...I'm going to have to try that next time. I usually just make sure that I get it out of whatever original packaging it was in and let it breathe a little in the fridge. I can usually get most things to last a couple of weeks at least.

Love your blog, by the way...I subscribe to you on Google Reader:)

Isle Dance said...

LOVE that!

mrs green said...

Oh bless you - thank you for the lovely comments; I really appreciate them. SOmetimes blogging can be a lonely business and you wonder if people are enjoying the stuff you write.

one month on your lettuce is awesome! Well done you; glad the tip helped so much!

Angela said...

innermonologueofamadwoman- that's quite a moniker! Thanks so much for making a comment, and I'm so glad you enjoy the blog! yes, I think taking lettuce out of the original packaging helps a lot.

Isle Dance- Thanks for being a regular commenter, I appreciate it so much.

Mrs. Green- you're welcome. I am SO happy for that tip, and so glad it will help others who read this blog.

danahollis said...

Great idea! Seems so simple I can't believe I never thought of it. Thanks for sharing! :)

Carla said...

My daughter gave me this trick from Alton Brown which is apparently also pretty good. Rather than maybe tell you something wrong I googled for it and have pulled these drections right off I think it would also work well with a damp kitchen towel. I envision a non-terry towel but don't know that it would truly matter.

"Here’s a trick we picked up from Alton Brown: Cut (or better yet, tear) the romaine into bite-sized pieces. Rinse and briefly soak the lettuce pieces in cold water in a salad spinner, then lift up the basket and dump out the water. Replace the basket and spin the lettuce in the usual fashion. Put half of the spun lettuce in the salad bowl, and set aside. Roll out a length of paper towels on the countertop, and sprinkle the lettuce along its length, keeping a single layer as much as possible. When you’ve laid out all the lettuce, roll up the paper towels loosely, and slide the roll into a plastic produce bag. Put the bag gently into your crisper drawer, but do not close the bag.

It’s a pretty neat trick: The paper towel wicks moisture away from the lettuce, but keeps the bag relatively humid. I’m not saying the romaine will be as good as new a week later, but it sure beats the pants off of those overpriced, half-wilted “salad in a bag” thingies."

YearofBooks said...

The "water resuce" works for celery too. The snap comes right back to limp celery after a few hours in cold water in the refrigerator.

Angela said...

danahollis- Isn't it? (simple, I mean). Thanks for coming by and for leaving a comment.

Carla- I have done that before and it works really well, lasts a week or two. This water trick lasted longer, but I'll see if it can be repeated... Thanks for your comment, people can use that info.

YearofBooks- It seems to work for lettuce, celery, and broccoli, according to reader comments. I'll definitely try to think of it more often.

Thanks for all your comments!