How to Keep Salad Fresh

Written by Ollie Wilkinson

The days of soggy spinach and languishing lettuce are behind you. It’s time to learn the secret of how to keep salad fresh and make it last longer.

Anyone who says you don’t make friends with salad has never read this guide. We believe that salad should be tossed in bowls, not the bin. And our easy tips and tricks will ensure your greens stay green and your leaves remain lusciously leafy long into the future.

Ready to embrace the salad days of your fresh Capreses and Caesars? Stop tossing and turning and dive into these storage and preservation techniques!

How do you know if salad’s gone bad?

Buying salad can be a bit of a mixed bag, so how can you tell when your greens have embraced the dark side? Common spoiler alerts include:

  • • Soggy, slimy leaves – everyone’s had a soggy cabbage in their fridge at one point or another, right?
  • • Rotten smell – that’s right, spoilt salad is a treat for the eyes and the nose.
  • • Discolouring and brown leaves – if your salad’s gone from 50 shades of green to 50 shades of grey, it’s time to toss that filth in your compost bin. Speaking of which, have you read our guide on what compost’s used for yet?
  • • Use-by dates – find out more by reading our blog on use-by dates vs best before dates (FYI probably the only dating advice we’ll ever give).
  • • Taste – gone-off salad leaves a sour taste in your mouth.

How to keep salad fresh and make it last longer

Fresh, crunchy and delicious, salads are a go-to option for any occasion. But they ironically don’t stay fresh, crunchy and delicious for long. At times, buying salad ingredients can feel a lot like a bank holiday weekend or your 20s. Blink and you’ll miss it.

It never takes long for that beautiful green forest at the bottom of your fridge to turn into a tribute to Nickelodeon slime. But here are our methods on how to keep salad fresh for longer so it can maintain its 15 minutes of fame.

Avoid wasting food by following these ten tips for preserving leafy greens:

Paper towel tekkers

Throwing in the towel takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to keeping salad fresh. A gone-off salad is a slimy so-and-so, but adding a paper towel to your bag or container will absorb the moisture, prevent bacteria from spreading, and slow down rot.

Pie off the plastic

Plastic does very little to protect your produce from going off. Air and moisture speed up the already rapid rot as soon as you open the plastic bag.

We recommend buying plastic free fruit and veg and storing your salad ingredients in other containers. But more on that later!

Seal it up

Sealable containers prevent air, moisture and humidity from spoiling your salad ingredients. If you haven’t got a container to hand, try sealing the bag with a clothes peg, piece of string or elastic band.

Dress for the occasion

When preparing a salad, don’t add your dressing until you plan on eating it. A premature vinaigrette will only result in premature regret, as it’ll make your salad swampy. And nobody wants a swampy salad.

You can still prepare your dish in advance, just make sure you store your dressing in a separate container.

Stay on top of your toppings

Dressings aren’t the only things you should keep separate until it comes to the crunch. Toppings like avocados and apples should only be added just before serving because these fruits can turn brown and mushy very quickly after slicing and dicing.

Veggies like peppers, carrots and cucumbers are a bit hardier, so they get the green light if you’re prepping a salad a couple of days in advance.

Spin class

Anyone who’s been spinning will know you end the class dehydrated and ready for a rest. The same can be said for salad. Spinning your salad before storing it will remove damp spots and slime, fending off any bacteria.

Remove the spoilt brats

If you notice a few soggy leaves or brown stalks in your greens, there’s no need to panic or throw the whole lot away. Just toss out the spoiled bits before they spread their sloppy, wilty arms across the fresher stalks, stems and leaves.

Got excess salad ingredients or scraps? Swerve food waste by exploring what to do with cauliflower leaves and how to use beetroot stalks.

Buy frozen

There’s no shame in cutting out the middleman (AKA the fridge) and relying on frozen alternatives. Buying frozen berries and spinach gives you more time to use these ingredients whenever you see fit, rather than the usual race against rotting time.

“Frozen fruit and vegetables are frozen shortly after they’ve been harvested and this helps to preserve the nutrients until you eat them,” says the British Heart Foundation.

Grow your own fruit and veg

It doesn’t get fresher and riper than picking fruit and veg right off the plant. And just like being on our eco-friendly milkround, you avoid the perils of plastic and pesky shopping trips!

Check out our tips on growing fruit and veg from scraps for some extra anti-food waste guidance!

Store it correctly

Salad storage can become a bit of a minefield. Sealable or non-sealable containers? Glass or plastic? Fridge or cupboard? These choices all impact the freshness and shelf life of your salad.

But don’t worry, when it comes to making salads last longer, you’ll be bearing fruit in no time thanks to our storage methods detailed below.

How to store salad to make it last longer

Salad should be stored in sealable containers in the fridge at 5 °C or less. Any higher than that will risk bacterium growth.

Avoiding clammy herbs isn’t rocket science. Nor is it a big dill. And it certainly doesn’t take up much thyme. Here’s how to store salad to maximise freshness and make it last longer:

  1. 1. Remove any plastic. People who get their fruit and veg in home-compostable, recyclable paper (AKA people on our green milkround) can smugly ignore this step!
  2. 2. Wash your greens and dry with kitchen roll. This removes any clinging critters and bacteria from when they were picked from the soil.
  3. 3. Handle delicately. Crushing stalks and leaves damages their cells, causing them to wilt and become slimy.
  4. 4. Put your produce in a salad spinner to dry off excess moisture. A dry salad is a fresher salad.
  5. 5. Put the salad or salad ingredients in a sealable, airtight container. This helps protect the fresh greens from moisture, humidity and being bashed around in your fridge. Put any ingredients in your container whole, as chopping them may accelerate decay.
  6. 6 .Place a paper towel in with the salad. This will soak up any excess moisture as the days go by. Top tip: always line your fruit and veg drawer with kitchen roll to help soak up moisture.
  7. 7. Put the salad in your fridge’s fruit and veg/crisper drawer. This keeps them nice and cold, without freezing and killing your leaves.
  8. 8. Look out for and remove rotting leaves. These will contaminate the fresher leaves.

The grass may not always be greener on the other side, but your salads will be if you follow these simple steps.

How long does salad last in the fridge?

Stored correctly, an average salad will last up to five days in the fridge. Any longer than this, and you’ll start to see soggy, wilting leaves. Stored incorrectly, and you could be looking at no more than a couple of hours!

Is it better to store salad in glass or plastic?

Storing salad in glass (rather than plastic) is better for you and the planet. Why? Because glass is infinitely recyclable, non-porous, and easy to clean. Glass containers won’t get that dodgy-spray-tan-looking staining you get from plastic Tupperware, either. They also cope better with heat and are less likely to leach microplastics and contaminate your salad with chemicals.

Reusable glass containers are more sustainable than plastic because they’re less likely to end up in landfill or polluting the ocean. Check out these shocking ocean plastic stats and read our blog on what happens to plastic waste to find out more.

Do airtight containers keep salad fresh?

Airtight containers give your salad the rub of the green. Reusable silicone containers and clingfilm alternatives are great at:

  • Keeping out bacteria
  • Maintaining the right level of moisture
  • Preventing oxygen from accelerating the growth of mould and microorganisms.

Does putting salad in water keep it fresh?

A viral TikTok video (yes, we’re a milkround on TikTok) claimed submerging lettuce in unrefrigerated water can keep it fresh for up to a month. Better Homes & Gardens put this method to the test and found that a submerged romaine lettuce kept its crispiness for around ten days before it started to go soft.

While there’s no harm in trying this new aquatic method, it’s worth bearing in mind that a head of lettuce will usually last for over two weeks in the fridge (out of water). Pre-prepared, mixed salads, on the other hand, last about five days in the fridge. We wouldn’t recommend putting these in water, as that could get quite messy!

What’s the best way to keep lettuce fresh?

Certain fruit and veg can be a real wet lettuce when fighting off decay. Lettuce is, of course, one of those. But the best way to keep lettuce fresh is to store it in the fridge in a sealable container or wrapped in kitchen roll.

If you’ve bought a whole lettuce, don’t wash or chop it. Keeping it attached to the head will ensure it stays fresher for longer.

How long does lettuce last in the fridge?

Head lettuce – like an iceberg or romaine – can last for up to a few weeks in the fridge. Bagged and chopped lettuce, on the other hand, will stay fresh for roughly seven to ten days.

So to conclude, buying your lettuce in single-use plastic packaging is bad for purse strings and the planet. Tip of the iceberg, right?

Can aluminium foil keep lettuce fresh?

Lettuce needs space to breathe but not so much that it dries out. You can fight the spoil with foil by tightly wrapping your lettuce head in aluminium. The foil technique is more effective with lettuce heads than loose lettuce, but the benefits aren’t necessarily down to the material. Wrapping your lettuce in kitchen roll is equally effective in keeping lettuce fresh, and less impactful on the environment.

Nip waste in the bud

So, there you have it. Hopefully, we’ve given you a better idea of how to keep salad fresh. The days of rocket in your pocket and leaves up your sleeves are finally over. When storing salad, just remember, if in doubt, fridge it out.

Keeping your salad fresh is a great way to stay in the green, avoiding food waste while saving money on groceries. And there’s plenty more where that came from. Ready to put the U in sustainability? Check out our eco-friendly recipes and guides on:

Join our milkround

Whether you’re looking for a sustainable fruit and veg delivery or are after a range of other household essentials, our milkies are happy to help. Get started now by placing at least one repeat weekly order with us, choosing the delivery dates that best suit your schedule and we’ll be over before you know it. With deliveries as often as three times per week, you can rely on us for all of your waste free grocery needs.

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