How to Store Lettuce: after cutting, whole, packaged

Lettuce could be considered one of the most consumed vegetables in the world, whether in salads, sandwiches, burgers, and more, but the important thing today is to answer, how is lettuce preserved?

Because they have a high percentage of water, you should store the lettuce in the fridge after washing it for 1 or 2 weeks if it is whole, or 5 or 7 days if it is separated into leaves. 

If you want to know how you should store lettuce, continue reading.

How to preserve lettuce?

One of the things you should keep in mind when buying vegetables is that you should always choose those that look their best so that they last you as long as you estimate until the next purchase.

And this is especially important with lettuce; never buy with many withered leaves or a completely darkened stem. Otherwise, they will not last more than a couple of days, no matter how well you store them.

Keep whole lettuce in the fridge

This is the preferred method when thinking about how to preserve lettuce. The refrigerator offers a suitable environment for the lettuce to maintain its perfect color and texture. In addition, lettuce is best kept when it remains whole.   

Here is what you should do to store lettuce in the fridge correctly:

  • Step 1: Wash the lettuce.

Wash them with plenty of cold water, preferably under tap water. 

  • Step 2: Remove the excess water.

Shake it a little and leave it on a rack or food colander for several minutes to drain. If you have a salad spinner, you can use it. 

You can also dry the lettuce with paper towels: you have to place them between the leaves of the lettuce to absorb moisture well.

  • Step 3: Put the lettuce in a bag.

Put the lettuce inside a standard plastic bag, and do not close it, as the lettuce needs to be ventilated.

  • Step 4: Label the bag.

Write the lettuce storage date on the bag or stick a label containing this information.

  • Step 5: Store the lettuce in the fridge.

Be sure to place lettuce away from apples, pears, tomatoes, bananas, or any other food that emits ethylene gas or will cause it to wilt much faster (You can check the storage guide of those products clicking the link). 

The ideal would be to store it inside the drawer. This way, whole lettuce can be refrigerated for 1 or 2 weeks. [1]

How to store lettuce leaves

If you want to separate each lettuce leave to maximize space in the fridge, you can do it. However, It will reduce its shelf life.

To preserve lettuce cut into leaves, do what I tell you below:

  • Step 1: Separate the leaves with your hands.

Get rid of the bad leaves and keep the good ones. Please do not use a metal knife because it will rust quickly in a few hours from the metal. Although you can use a plastic knife, it will not be necessary as your hands are enough.

  • Step 2: Wash the lettuce leaves.

With plenty of cold water, wash the lettuce leaves. You should not let the leaves soak in a bowl unless you want to rehydrate them if they look dehydrated before eating them. 

  • Step 3: Remove the excess water.

Use paper towels, a colander, or a salad spinner; just make sure you remove as much water as possible.

  • Step 4: Place the lettuce leaves in an airtight bag.

Place the lettuce leaves inside a bag or airtight container. As an extra, you can put a paper towel between the sheets to extend its shelf life a little more.

  • Step 5: Store in the fridge.

Place the bag or container with the lettuce leaves in the less cold part of the refrigerator, such as the vegetable drawer, and away from foods that emit ethylene gas.

 This way, you can keep the leaves of the lettuce in good condition in the fridge for between 5 and 7 days. [2]

How to store chopped lettuce in the refrigerator

Sometimes it happens that we do not calculate well the amount we need of some ingredient for a recipe, and we end up chopping more lettuce than required for a salad. How can I keep the chopped lettuce fresh in the refrigerator

Lettuces are highly delicate and will begin to oxidize when you chop them. But to keep the lettuce chopped a little longer, you can do the following:

  • Step 1: Dry the chopped lettuce.

You must remove the excess water if you feel the lettuce is super wet.

  • Step 2: Transfer to an airtight container or bag. 

The airtight container will prevent the lettuce from quickly oxidizing.

  • Step 3: Store the chopped lettuce in the refrigerator.

The chopped lettuce can be two days in the fridge. However, it may not be as crispy as the first day.

Preserving packaged lettuce

In supermarkets, it is common to find packaged lettuce ready to eat, and you may wonder how you can keep it.

The best thing you can do to keep packaged lettuce in good condition is not to break the cold chain, so take it from the refrigerated section until just before you pay. 

The second thing you should remember is not to uncover the package if you do not plan to eat it because the package is sealed to extend its shelf life, which is estimated to be between 2 to 3 weeks. 

Remember not to put lettuce near foods that emit ethylene gas, such as bananas, and away from the bottom of the fridge. 

If you have some leftovers, you can transfer them to another airtight bag.

After opening, you can refrigerate packaged lettuce for up to 3 days.

How to store lettuce in mason jars with water

If you want to use a mason jar to store the lettuce, I have the guidelines for you, which are the followings:

  • Step 1: Sterilize the bottles.

In a pot, place the jars with their respective lids (thread or airtight), add water, and boil for 15 minutes. After that, remove the jars using tweezers and put them on racks to drain and dry thoroughly.

  • Step 2: Separate and wash the lettuce.

Separate the head of the lettuce into leaves, get rid of bad ones, and proceed to clean with enough water. Then, drain them well.

  • Step 3: Put the leaves inside the jar.

Place the leaves of the lettuce, taking care you do not break them, although you can fold it to put as many as you can.

  • Step 4: Cover with water.

After this, add drinking water until completely covered.

  • Step 5: Close the lid.

You can close the lid and change the water every three days.

  • Step 6: Label the container.

Attach a label with the storage date of the lettuce.

  • Step 7: Store the jar with the lettuce in the fridge.

This way, your lettuce will stay fresh for 30 days in the refrigerator.

How to freeze lettuce

Can lettuce be frozen? Not if you can avoid it. What happens is that lettuce is composed of a large amount of water, which produces ice crystals that break the structure of the lettuce when you freeze it.

However, you could freeze some types of lettuce with thick leaves, such as romaine or cos lettuce, but they will not be the same as if they were fresh.

To freeze lettuce in the right way, you have to follow these instructions:

  • Step 1: Separate the lettuce into leaves.

I do not recommend freezing the head of whole lettuce. For this reason, use your hands and separate each leave, eliminating the bad ones.

  • Step 2: Clean the leaves.

Wash the lettuce leaves with plenty of cold water.

  • Step 3: Dry the lettuce.

Shake them a little, or use a spin container, and then finish drying them with paper towels.

  • Step 4: Bag the leaves.

Place the lettuce leaves inside an airtight bag (e.g., ziploc) to prevent frosty burns.

  • Step 5: Label the bag.

Write the date of storage of the lettuce on the bag.

  • Step 6: Store the lettuce in the freezer.

In this way, you can freeze the lettuce for three months. To defrost it, pass it a day before to the fridge. However, you should remember its consistency will not be the same but will be a little soft.

How to know if the lettuce is bad?

If you want to know if the lettuce is in poor condition, it must have any of these characteristics:

  • Most leaves wilted.
  • Mold (black or white spots or lint).
  • Bad smell and/or taste.
  • Viscosity.

Why does lettuce spoil?

Lettuce is a plant, so the natural decomposition process begins as soon as you harvest

Oxidation will begin, so its leaves will wither and turn brown. In addition, lettuce is mainly composed of water, which leads to mold development.

It can also attract animals and insects by spending a lot of time outdoors and could devour or contaminate them. Filling it with more bacteria and microorganisms won’t do it any good.

What makes lettuce turn brown?

If you make some mistakes when preserving lettuce, chances are that the lettuce will start to turn brown. However, it is possible to prevent this by harvesting fresh lettuce the right way and storing it where there are no chemicals that can cause browning.

Here’s what makes lettuce turn brown:

Ethylene gas damage

Lettuce, like other plants, produces ethylene gas. This gas is commonly produced in large quantities when apples start to go wrong, for example.

This gas causes fresh lettuce to turn brown, even in small amounts. For example, if you place lettuce near ripened fruits or on the way to getting worse, you will find that the leaves react to the gas and turn rusty brown.


If you mishandle lettuce and many other tender vegetables, they end up with bruising easily. Lettuce is no exception.

Bruised lettuce will quickly turn brown because enzymes are activated when stems and cut leaves are exposed to air. Enzymes produce compounds that result in brown spots. This process is called oxidation.

If this browning begins at the base of the lettuce head or stems where the injury occurred, it will eventually spread to the leaves.

How long does it take for lettuce to oxidize?

That depends a lot on the state of the lettuce. For example, if you cut the lettuce with metal, it will begin to oxidize in a couple of hours, but if it is cut by hand and kept cold, it will take between 1 to 2 days to oxidize. If the lettuce is whole, it will take even longer to oxidize.

How long does lettuce last?

Whole lettuce in the fridge1 – 2 weeks
Separated lettuce leaves in the fridge5 – 7 days
Chopped lettuce in the fridge2 days
Commercial lettuce package (sealed)2 – 3 weeks
Commercial lettuce package (opened)3 days
Lettuce in water in mason jars30 days
Frozen lettuce3 months

What is the best way to preserve lettuce?

The best way to preserve lettuce, either whole, leafy, or chopped, is by storing it in the fridge, away from foods that emit ethylene gas, and away from the bottom of the refrigerator.

Freezing is not an option you should consider unless you have a lot of lettuce and do not want to waste it. It is better to store the lettuce in mason jars with water than in the freezer if you need to keep it longer.

If you’re interested in learning how to preserve some other food, this site has a wide variety of topics that you might like, so feel free to explore as much as you want.



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