Many people tell me they are curious about making Salad in a Jar (vacuum-packed chopped lettuce) but don’t have or can’t afford a vacuum-pack machine. A few months ago, I was elated to learn it can be done with a portable vacuum-pack machine costing around $20. But now I’ve discovered something even cheaper, thanks to my blogger friend Vicki.
Ziplock sells a hand pump (go here to purchase on Amazon.com) that will vacuum-pack a glass jar of chopped Romaine quite inexpensively. I bought mine at Kroger for approximately $4. It comes with 3 vacuum-sealable Ziplock bags (useful for storing big chunks of cheese), and can be found in the same area as aluminum foil and plastic wrap. In addition to the pump, you will need a thumbtack, electrical tape, and a clean glass jar.
Update September 2017: The link seen above for the hand pump on Amazon still works. However, it is for a set that includes some plastic bags. Unfortunately, it costs around 18$. I have not seen these pumps in a brick and mortar store for awhile.
Regarding the jars, use a glass canning jar or a repurposed glass jar (such as one spaghetti sauce or jelly might come in) with a screw-on lid. Some twist-on lids may also work if they form a tight seal.
Click below to see a quick tutorial showing how to do it, or look through the pictures below.
Note: If this is the first time you’ve been exposed to the idea of vacuum-packing prepared lettuce, see this post for more details about the why and how-to of this technique.
How to vacuum-pack lettuce in a glass jar without an electric vacuum-pack machine or attachment:
The easiest way to open a sealed jar is to peel off the tape which will immediately break the seal. Or, you can strong-arm the lid if you have substantial muscles. It’s a good idea to check the seal occasionally while the jars are in the fridge to ensure the seal holds. Do this quickly by bouncing your finger on the lid. If sealed, it will not move. When the seal is broken, the flat lid will move up and down slightly and make a noise. Re-vacuum with a new piece of tape if you aren’t quite ready to eat the contents. Of course, the sooner you discover the broken seal, the better. I have noticed that in general, the large vacuum-pack machines do make a stronger and more dependable seal, but the hand pump is a good way to try the whole “salad-in-a-jar” concept if you don’t already own a machine.
You can also do this with Mason glass jars with two-part lids. See the video above for a complete demonstration.
IF THE JAR WON’T SEAL:
- Try a smaller piece of electrical tape.
- Tape may be too tightly adhered to the lid before you start to pump. Remove and replace with a light touch.
- Make sure there are no cracks in your hand pump. (This actually happened to me when I first tried this technique leading me to believe it wouldn’t work. Glad Vicki encouraged me to give it another try.)
- The lid may not be sealing the jar completely. Twist-on lids are the most frequent offenders.
How to vacuum-pack Mason glass jars with a hand pump and a wide-mouth attachment:
If you already have the wide-mouth attachment, you can avoid putting holes in your canning lids by using it with Mason glass jars.
Happy Salad Eating!
P.S. The blue writing on the hand pump rubs off on your hands in an amazingly quick and annoying way . You can see in the pictures how half of the writing is already gone. Coat the plastic barrel of the pump with vegetable oil and then use a paper towel or a little scrubbie pad to remove it.
Salad in a Jar
The Lettuce Experiment
How to Make Salad in a Jar That Lasts a Week–a Video and FAQ
Which Vacuum-Pack Machine Should I Buy to Make Salad in a Jar?
Yes, You Can Use a Handheld Vacuum-Pack Machine to Seal Salad in a Jar Is a Plastic Knife a Substitute for Vacuum-Packing Lettuce?
Can I Add Other Foods to My (Vacuum-Packed) Jars of Salad?