Care and Handling of Lettuce

Care and Handling of Lettuce

Americans throw out food so often that we barely stop to consider what a waste of money it is. In economics, "slippage" means the difference between the estimated cost of a transaction and what you actually pay. Restaurant managers and chefs have borrowed the term and applied it to food: Slippage is when you buy five tomatoes, eat three, and throw away two because they rotted. In any kitchen, waste not want not is the goal.

1 Fill a clean sink with very cold water. Separate the leaves of lettuce, put them in the water, and swish them around. For limp leaves, break off the bottom to create a fresh edge, soak them for 30 minutes, and they will miraculously rejuvenate.

2 Drain the water. If the leaves were particularly sandy or dirty, fill the sink again, let soak for 15 minutes, then drain again. Next, rinse each individual leaf under cold running water, and then place the leaves in the basket of your salad spinner. (Give each leaf a quick once-over to check for clinging bugs!) For large leaves, as with romaine, you can tear them in halves or quarters before placing them in the basket.

3 When the spinner is full, but not too tightly packed, spin the lettuce until dry.

4 Roll out several paper towels on a countertop and stack the dry leaves in the center. Wrap the lettuce loosely with the paper towels.

5 Place the wrapped lettuce in a gallon-size zip-top bag, gently press out the air, and close the bag. Store in the refrigerator and use as needed. When the bag is empty, simply rinse, air-dry, and reuse it.