Iceberg lettuce often gets a bad wrap. It’s often compared to its more attractive and seemingly healthier cousins, romaine, kale, and arugula.
The Iceberg may not be as stunning as those other greens, but it has many other fine attributes. Sweet and mild in flavor, this light green leaf is healthier than you may think too. Iceberg lettuce is loaded with vitamins A,C, K, calcium, foliate, and potassium. It also has a high water content, which can help with digestion and weight loss.
This round ruffage can be used on burgers, salads, and tacos. It can be shredded, chopped, diced, and sliced. But does it need to be washed before all that?
Yes. Iceberg lettuce needs to be washed before eating it. Because lettuce is eaten raw for the most part, you need to wash off the dirt. Dirt can contain microbes and bacteria. Lettuce can also have pesticides and bugs.
What Is The Best Way To Wash Iceberg Lettuce?
While people may just tear the leaves they need from the lettuce and rinse them as needed, there is a better way to wash your Iceberg.
First, remove the outer leaves if they appear wilted. Next, remove the core. This can be done by pounding it on the counter or a cutting board a few times. You should then be able to just pull it out. If it’s a stubborn core, you can also use a knife to cut it out.
Finally, place the head, core side up, into a colander and run cold water into it. Allow it to overflow. This will rinse the inner and outer parts of the lettuce. Shake it out and pat it dry with a paper towel.
You can also use a salad spinner to get those leaves extra dry.
How Long Will Iceberg Lettuce Last?
The average time Iceberg lettuce will last depends on many factors, like proper storage, processing techniques, and how old it was when you bought it. However, on average, the lettuce will last 7 to 10 days in the refrigerator. Though it has been known to last longer.
A whole head of will last longer than cut lettuce. In fact, most fresh food will last longer if you don’t do anything to it until you’re ready to use it.
If you want to get a longer life out of your lettuce, wrap the whole head in a moist paper towel before storing it. This will help keep it crisp.
If you are going to cut it, do not use a metal knife. The metal cuts through the cells of the leaves, destroying them and causing the lettuce to brown quicker. It’s best to use your hands. You can also use a plastic or ceramic knife. There are even lettuce knives that are specifically made to cut lettuce (thank you Chef Alton Brown).
Can You Freeze Iceberg Lettuce?
You can freeze Iceberg lettuce, but it will lose its crispness and some flavor. If, for some reason, you plan on using it in soup, stew, or smoothies, then freezing is an option.
Can You Leave Iceberg Lettuce Unrefrigerated?
It is not recommended that you leave Iceberg lettuce unrefrigerated for more than two hours. It will start to wilt and turn brown. Also, safety-wise, it could attract bacteria.
Lettuce is perishable and the USDA states that these items need to be stored at below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4 degrees Celsius).
How Do You Know If Iceberg Lettuce Has Gone Bad?
It’s pretty easy to tell if Iceberg lettuce has gone bad. The fresh Iceberg will be a nice combination of lighter green colors, with some yellow hues. Signs it has gone south are:
- brown, black, or gray leaves
- lots of bruising
- mushy or slimy
- acidic or rotten smell
- fuzz (which is mold)
- if it’s bagged, the bag will swell up
If your Iceberg has any of these signs, throw it away or place it in your compost bin.
If the lettuce is just wilted, it’s safe to eat. But it should be eaten right away and may not taste that great.
Can You Save Wilted Lettuce?
Yes, you can actually save your wilting lettuce. Just dunk it in a bowl of ice water for about 5 minutes. The shock will pep that lettuce right up.
What Are Some Different Ways To Properly Store Your Iceberg Lettuce?
Depending on how and when your plans include lettuce, may determine how you want to store it.
If you’re not going to use your lettuce right away, you may want to keep it in the same way you bought it. Don’t wash or core it. Just wrap it in moist towels (paper, flour sack, or even kitchen will do) and place it in a plastic bag or large container.
If you have leftover mixed salad that you’d like to save, but hate how the lettuce always seems to sog up, here are a few tips for keeping that lettuce crunchy.
First, keep the dressing out of it. Unless you’re going to eat the entire bowl right away, don’t add dressing to it. Just put it on what you and yours are going to eat that day. The acid in the dressing will wilt lettuce very quickly.
Add toppings like croutons, bacon bits, and cheese separately. They tend to go to mush and take the lettuce with them.
Seal the salad in a container or plastic bag and put a paper towel in with it. The salad should remain crispy for about 2 days.
If you need to shred your lettuce, line the bottom of an airtight container with a paper towel, add the lettuce and then another layer of paper towel. Seal it and it should last about a week.
Some extra food for thought. Keep your Iceberg lettuce away from pears, avocados, tomatoes, and apples in the fridge. They release chemicals that can cause lettuce to ripen quickly and wilt. Good to think about when adding ingredients to your salad as well.