Not long ago, a reader left the following comment: “The food saver is expensive and a lot of effort. You can get the same result by placing half a paper napkin on top of your lettuce before you seal the jar. It absorbs the liquid, keeping the lettuce good for a solid week.” This was pertaining to one of my first posts about vacuum-packing cut lettuce, an idea that prevents me from wasting money on lettuce-gone-bad.
I’m used to these kinds of challenges. You can read about two previous experiments I conducted by clicking on the links. One was regarding cutting lettuce with a plastic knife and the other was a comparison of lettuce placed into a covered but unsealed Mason Jar, cut lettuce placed into a plastic bag, and vacuum-packed lettuce.
The ground rules for this most unscientific test:
- Lettuce must be cut into small ready-to-eat pieces. That’s important because I want my lettuce/salad to be ready to eat in less than a minute when I walk in the door for lunch. Easy-to-grab junk food is less of a temptation when I’m famished but have a jar of chopped lettuce at hand.
- The lettuce-filled jars are stored in the same location in the same refrigerator, filled with the same lettuce so original freshness is not a factor.
In each picture, the paper towel jar is on the left and the vacuum-packed jar is on the right. As you can see in the first picture above, the lettuce is equally fresh on Day 1.
Can you see that the “paper towel lettuce” is showing it’s age?
Which jar would you choose? (See random thought #4 below.)
Random thoughts about saving money by vacuum-packing cut lettuce:
- I can’t resist commenting on my reader’s assessment of the vacuum-packing idea. Yes, vacuum-pack machines can be expensive, but I have written about two excellent alternatives that are much, much cheaper. See this post and this one, too. Addendum: One of my readers has left links for the inexpensive equipment you can use in the comment section of this post. They are good links and are exactly what I use all the time.
- In regards to the effort required, it may take upwards to an hour to prepare 5-6 jars the first time you do it. But after a little practice, you should be able to prepare those same jars of plain lettuce (with no other ingredients added) in 30 minutes or less. Promise!!
- If you don’t care about the money you save by not throwing away lots of lettuce-gone-bad, consider the good eating habits you are promoting by making your salad easy to grab-and-eat.
- Honestly, 11 days is pushing it, even for vacuum-packed lettuce. Although rare, I have noticed that sometimes when I first open a jar of vacuum-packed lettuce that old, there is the slightest older-lettuce smell. But within a few seconds, (maybe when the oxygen hits it), the smell is gone and I proceed to happily eat my crisp and no-brown-edges salad. You could always give the lettuce a quick rinse if you like.
- Warning: Vacuum-packed lettuce MUST best be stored in the refrigerator. Make no mistake! This is not a heat-processed canning procedure.
p.s. Read more about vacuum-packing cut lettuce here.
p.s.s. Thanks to the reader who left this comment. I always welcome new ideas and like to try as many as I can.