Have you ever gone into your fridge for lettuce so you have something green to serve with dinner and what you find is a package of brown, slimy, gross stuff that could easily have come from an episode of The Walking Dead??
No?? Me, neither. Never, ever happened here either. I’ve heard rumors of it happening to others … but never … OK, maybe once. Alright, more than once … FINE, it used to happen A LOT.
I’ve tried a lot of ways to store lettuce and I’d basically given up. I finally ended up buying lettuce the day I planned on serving it. That helped prevent “goo bags” in my fridge but cut down on having that quick and easy side salad or the fast and tasty dinner salad ala taco, steak or chicken — which is my go-to “life sucks, I hate cooking” last minute, everybody is starving, dinner idea.
That is until I found an article and video on the web showing how to store lettuce for a long time using large mason jars and my vacuum sealer. I had just purchased a Kindle book, Salads To Go, on how to make salads and store them for easy lunches in mason jars. I thought the idea was pretty cool and started looking around for more ideas along the same lines. That’s when I found this article and video.
I had just purchased some half-gallon mason jars for fermenting cabbage and decided to give Paula’s method a try. The only thing I still needed was a way to vacuum seal the jars. My FoodSaver didn’t come with a Jar Sealer device, but it did have the Accessory Mode. Make sure your FoodSaver has the Accessory Mode — if you have canisters or the Quick Marinator then your FoodSaver has the functionality to use the Jar Sealer. I found a FoodSaver Wide-Mouth Jar Sealer on Amazon inexpensively. It paid for itself after 3 bags of lettuce!
I can tell you that I’ve tried this method on a variety of different lettuces and, so far, it only works with romaine lettuce. All of the other softer leaf lettuces don’t seem to keep as well and we don’t like iceberg lettuce.
I buy my lettuce at Sam’s Club and I get 6 heads of romaine in a package for under $4.00. Normally, I’d end up with 2-3 of these heads of lettuce going brown on me. But now we are able to use up a whole package before it goes bad!
Using half-gallon jars I can get 3 heads of lettuce in each jar. In the summer months the heads of lettuce are larger and I have to stuff the lettuce in pretty tightly. In the winter months, the heads seem to be a bit wimpy.
The instruction from the video I shared above says to wash the lettuce, spin it dry and put it into the mason jars. After the first couple of times using this method, I don’t recommend doing that.
I found that my lettuce lasts even longer if I cut it up and put it into the mason jars dry right from the bag. When it comes time to use the lettuce, I’ll take what I need out of the jar and rinse/clean it before serving.
I also don’t recommend putting any other type of vegetable in with the lettuce. If you want the lettuce to last as long as it lasts for me, then keep the lettuce by itself.
I remove all the wilted and outside leafs, make 2 cuts with the grain and then start chopping from the top towards the bottom until all that’s left is the stem. I liked the suggestion from the video to chop starting at the top and to leave the stem attached, it certainly makes chopping less messy.
Stuff lettuce into the jars until they are full or you run out of lettuce.
Next I take the lettuce filled mason jars over to my FoodSaver and vacuum out all of the air. To do this you’ll need the FoodSaver Wide-Mouth Jar Sealer, a wide-mouth mason jar lid and ring and the FoodSaver machine with Accessory Hose.
FoodSaver machines don’t come with the Jar Sealer. I’ve seen packages where they give you canisters and marinators, but I’ve never seen one that includes the jar sealer. So you can expect to have to buy one or borrow one. When you go to buy the Jar Sealer, keep in mind that there are two (2) different lid sizes for mason jars. Regular mouth and wide-mouth. If you have or plan to purchase half-gallon jars or wide-mouth quart jars, you’ll need the wide-mouth jar sealer.
Half-gallon mason jars are really hard to find locally — at least where I live. I wasn’t able to find any store that carried them in stock. But if you have an Ace Hardware Store near you, that’s where I recommend purchasing half-gallon mason jars. Mason jars are expensive to ship and it’s always a gamble to ship anything glass through the mail. Especially since mason jars are not really packaged for shipping. It’s pretty normal to receive them with some breakage. If you get them through your Ace Hardware Store, you can order either online or by calling the store and the jars are shipped to the store where you can pick them up. You don’t pay any shipping charges and any breakage is handled by Ace before you have to plunk down your hard-earned cash. If you have a local hardware store, they may be able to get them for you too. I tried our locally-owned first and was unsuccessful.
Do NOT under any circumstance use a recycled food jar (such as mayo or spaghetti sauce) or anything other than a Ball or Kerr canning jar. Recycled food jars and other “novelty” jars are not made to withstand the pressure of being vacuum sealed and you risk the jar imploding. Ball and Kerr canning jars are made specifically for handling food under pressure.
Place your jar lid on the mason jar (but not the ring) and then place the Jar Sealer on, covering the lid and the mouth of the jar. Place the FoodSaver Accessory Hose in the top and press the Accessories Button. Most machines will turn themselves off once the vacuuming is completed.
Take the Jar Sealer off and test the lid. It should not give way under your finger. Now screw on the lid’s ring and vacuum seal all remaining jars.
I use a very fancy labeling system … blue painter tape and a sharpie marker! LOL Whatever system you decide to use, mark your jars with the date that you first cut up and vacuum sealed the lettuce. This will allow you to keep the oldest lettuce at the front of the fridge if you use enough lettuce that there are multiple seal dates.
Every time you open a sealed jar of lettuce, you need to either use it all or re-vacuum what’s left. If you don’t vacuum seal what’s left, it will not last. It’s the vacuum that causes the lettuce to stay fresh for the long time period.
I state that lettuce once vacuum sealed will easily last for two (2) weeks, but I can tell you that I’ve had lettuce last over a month vacuum sealed. Your mileage may vary.
- 1 package Romaine Lettuce from Sam's Club (6 heads)
- 2 half-gallon mason jars
- 2 wide-mouth lids
- 2 wide-mouth rings
- FoodSaver with Accessories Hose
- FoodSaver Jar Sealer
- Chop lettuce as desired for salad servings
- Fill mason jars
- Using FoodSaver with Accessories Hose and FoodSaver Jar Sealer, vacuum seal lettuce
- Test lid to confirm a good seal
- Screw ring onto jar
- Place in fridge.
- Re-vacuum seal after opening
- Lettuce will last for two(2) weeks or more