Knowing how to make salad last all week can save you SO much time in the kitchen! We all want to eat more vegetables, and salad is a great way to do just that, but it’s a time-consuming dish to make. That’s why many of us make extra-large salads only to wind up picking out rotting, browning pieces all week. Once you know the keys to making a salad last a week, you’ll be thrilled at how easy it is to have fresh salad at dinner, or even take one with you for lunch at work. Plus, you’ll reduce your food waste!
How to Make Salad Last ALL Week
Kill the stuff that kills your salad. Gross as it sounds, vegetables often come home from the store with mold spores on them, among other things. Simply washing with water doesn’t kill the stuff that makes lettuce lettuce “rust” and other veggies rot. Use a homemade fruit and vegetable wash instead of plain water.
Dry it, and dry it some more. Sure, a good salad tastes juicy, but that’s from the water content in the vegetables. Failing to completely and totally dry your ingredients will promote rot, so dry all leafy greens and other salad fixings thoroughly. I use a salad spinner, but you can just as easily roll them up in a clean kitchen towel, grab the ends and twirl it like a madman to spin the water off yourself. Or pat them dry individually if you’d rather.
Remove the seeds. This step makes a huge difference in how long salads last. When cutting tomatoes, run your fingers through and pull out the seeds, as well as the gel surrounding them. The flavor’s in the flesh, anyway, so why put the slime in there that will make your salad go bad? For cucumbers, slice them lengthwise and run a spoon down the center to scoop out the seeds and surrounding flesh.
Never, ever chop lettuce. Lettuce is full of moisture, and its cellular structure keeps it that way. Cutting leaves releases an ascorbic acid oxidase which turns into that “rusty”, unappetizing brown stuff. Tearing lettuce causes less damage to that cellular structure so they stay green longer. Don’t twist when tearing, though; gently tug the leaves into bite-size pieces and they’ll break apart at structurally softer points, keeping that moisture-retaining structure intact.
Keep it dry. If you’ve ever tried storing a bowl of salad overnight, you’ve no doubt noticed condensation drops on the lid or plastic wrap the next morning. That’s because vegetables emit a lot of humidity, which then drips onto your salad and causes rotting. There are two steps to prevent this. First, put a fresh, dry paper towel on top of your salad before storing it and replace that towel daily. Second, when you’re replacing the towel, wipe the inside of the lid off to remove any condensation. Combined, these two steps will keep your veggies crisp for days. (In addition to these two steps, I store my salads in the spinner itself and fill our salad bowls before serving meals — so I know everyone’s eating getting the right amount — then lift the mesh basket out and wipe the bowl daily.)
Don’t dress until dinner. Your salad, I mean, not YOU! Lettuce doused in dressing wilts quickly; serve dressing on the side, or take out only enough salad for that dinner and toss it with the dressing in a separate bowl.
The nice thing about having a salad that last all week is how much time you save by washing, chopping and tossing only once, then dishing it up as you go. With fresh salad on hand, feeding your family their vegetables doesn’t become yet another dinner-time chore.
UPDATE April 2014:
I’ve found a way to make salads last up to two weeks! First, make your salad following the directions above, and then transfer it into Mason jars. (I find the wide-mouth ones work best for this). Next, use a vacuum sealer and a jar attachment sealer to siphon out all of the air. Stash in the fridge and you’ve got fresh, crispy salads ready to go!
Equipment I Use For This: