Have you ever bought a bag of salad mix or a head of lettuce and had it go brown before you can eat it? You can use your FoodSaver®’s jar sealer to extend the life of your lettuce and salads. Here are some quick and easy ideas.
How long can you store your salad?
Last year, I sealed our lettuce in mason jars for a week-long camping trip. As usual, I overestimated how much salad we could eat and we brought home two unopened quarts of lettuce. They lasted another week in the refrigerator. At the last meal, the lettuce was a fresh and crisp as it had been for the first meal. The vacuum seal was the key.
Generally, lettuce keeps for only 3 – 6 days in the refrigerator. Using a FoodSaver® with a mason jar or FoodSaver® container can extend its life to 2 weeks or more. Cut lettuce, such as pre-packaged salad blends, may last only 2 to 3 days! The FoodSaver® vacuum system can extend that life by up to 5 times.
How do you keep lettuce fresh using a vacuum sealer?
I prefer to use the system’s jar sealer over using bags but many people use the bags with fine results. I find the jars are easier to open and reseal than the bags. You need to decide if it is worth the cost of the jar-sealer attachment. I also prefer wide-mouth jars to the regular canning jars. The wider opening makes it easier to put the lettuce in the jar without bruising it.
Lightly pack the jar with your chopped or shredded lettuce. You do not need to leave headroom at the top of the jar. However, if lettuce or moisture is on the jar rim or lid rim, the jar will not seal. Fit the appropriate sized sealer over the jar with the metal lid in place. Attach the hose to the vacuum sealer and to the sealer attachment.
Activate the vacuum sealer. If you hear a “pop”, you can turn off the vacuum. Otherwise, let it run its cycle. The lid is sealed if the center is dented downward. If not, remove the lid and clean the jar and lid rims. Repeat the sealing process.
You must reseal the jar if you break the seal to eat some of the lettuce. With practice, you will become very proficient at saving your lettuce with the FoodSaver®!
Can you add other ingredients?
Yes! And that is half the fun. First, determine how soon you plan to eat your fancy salad. If you are not going to eat it within a week, resist adding other ingredients. They may not stay fresh as long as the lettuce. Here are some suggestions for salad add-ins:
• Broccoli (if used within 1 – 2 days)
• Cauliflower (if used within 1 – 2 days)
• Onion (if used within 1 – 2 days)
• Snap peas
For best results, add the lettuce last when making a salad-in-a-jar. This keeps the lettuce crisper.
Many people put their salad dressing in the bottom of the jar before adding their other ingredients. I found this method wasted too much of my dressing and add the dressing when I eat the salad.
You can add more than veggies to your “canned lettuce”. Be sure to add the lettuce last but you can layer these ingredients in the bottom of the jar:
• Cooked beans, such as kidney, garbanzo (chickpeas), and cannellini beans
• Cooked beef
• Cooked poultry
• Cooked seafood
• Deli meats
You will find that “wetter” ingredients, such as juicy fruits, may not work as well as firmer fruits like apple pieces. Some foods, such as onions, broccoli, and cabbage, often give the lettuce an “off” flavor. You can add these on the day you plan to eat the salad or on the morning before you take it for lunch.
With bagged lettuce costing between $1 (on sale) and $2.69, you can see that you will soon get your money back if you have to invest in the jar attachment. Iceberg lettuce is generally cheaper than other lettuces, but it still can run $1.69 for a small head. Having the lettuce in jars is also a visual cue to have a salad with your meal!
Before writing for Internet sites, Terrie wrote for print magazines, including "Cricket" and several Dell puzzle magazines. Her repertoire covers several subjects, such as camping, writing, and Life's Experiences. As a daughter, wife, mother, and grandmother, she often writes about family issues.