What Do Restaurants Use To Keep Lettuce Fresh


I was taking lettuce out of the walk-in the other day and it looked as fresh as I cut it in the first place and I was wondering how many people are out there that might not know how to keep lettuce fresh. Luckily in the modern day’s world, we have the thing called the internet and the next thing I noticed I was writing this article.

In this post you are going to learn what do restaurants use to keep lettuce fresh for as long as possible, the different methods that aid with the process, and some additional things considering lettuce! But first, let’s take a close look at how to keep lettuce fresh.

Restaurants keep lettuce (Tortilla Chips?) fresh by first washing them properly with cold water, then without drying them fully storing them in a perforated or metal container that is in a cool fridge . In addition, restaurants place a cold, moist, and clean cloth on top of the lettuce to keep it fresh and crispy longer.

Following the advice above and there’s no way that your lettuce will spoil for at least a week and sometimes they can last even 3 to 4 weeks! And yes, that’s fresh and crispy. However, you should know more in-depth how to properly wash and store lettuce before we move into some additional aspects of lettuce.

How to properly wash lettuce

Washing lettuce is extremely important especially in restaurants where you serve it to the customers for a couple of reasons. First, the obvious reason is to get that dirt, sand, and soil out of the lettuce which is trickier as it sounds. Second, there will be bacteria that most can be removed when washing the lettuce. In addition from time to time, you will spot a small bug between the leaves which isn’t something you would want to serve the customers. Let’s see how to wash the lettuce without letting that happen!

  1. Wash your hands
  2. Remove the outer leaves of the salad
  3. Separate all leaves from the stim
  4. Rinse under cold water
  5. Use your hands to scrub the dirt off
  6. Dry the washed leaves but leave some moisture for proper storing

Pro tip: If you are a home chef you can use Salad Spinner to dry the lettuce fast and thoroughly.

How to properly store lettuce

Lettuce needs airflow, a little bit of humidity, and cool storage temperatures. If these 3 steps are in order in addition to proper washing, there’s very little chance that you will ever see a soggy piece of lettuce if you use them in time. Let’s see how and where to store the lettuce!

  1. After washing, drain the lettuce
  2. Place the lettuce in a metal perforated container
  3. Cover the leaves with a cool, moist, and clean cloth
  4. Keep the lettuce below 40°F (4.4°C)

If you wish to store a full head of lettuce, you can wrap one in a moist cloth and store it in a container inside a refrigerator.

How do restaurants keep their lettuce so crisp

The lettuce is so crisp in restaurants because of a couple of reasons. First, by washing them properly with cold water and then storing them like in the steps told above, this will ensure the freshness of the lettuce and with freshness comes crispiness as well!

Another aspect that affects the high crispiness of restaurant lettuce is air. Lettuce needs a fair amount of airflow and some moisture in order to stay crisp. Restaurants store their lettuce in a special perforated container that allows proper air circulation and prevents it from getting soggy while in the fridge.

Should I wash pre washed lettuce

Yes, you should definitely wash pre-washed lettuce. This is because even it is pre-washed, it will go through many commercial factory lines before finding itself in the bag, therefore there will be extra bacteria and might be some leftover dirt and germs on there. However, this isn’t necessary but highly recommended.

Some factories even use bleach to kill off E.coli and salmonella from the greens, however, there will be traces of these cleaners that are worse than a grain of sand which brings us to wonder why the FDA encourages using bleach in the cleaning process. Anyways, so you should wash them anyways.

What do restaurants wash lettuce in

Most of the time, restaurants wash lettuce by hand to be sure that it is washed properly. Restaurants often place the lettuce inside of a Colander so they can wash them more quickly and efficiently than without one. You can also use a perforated container for the same purpose!

How do restaurants shred lettuce

Many restaurants shred lettuce with a professional box grater. The way it’s done is by sliding the lettuce beside the larger holes of the grater, therefore the lettuce will be shredded extremely quickly. The grater is usually placed inside a large bowl where the shredded lettuce will drop. You can simply shred lettuce with a knife as well which will give larger sheds than a grater.

How long does shredded lettuce last in the fridge

There are many debates on how long does shredded lettuce lasts in the fridge but with my multiple experiences, I have seen that it lasts 5 to 7 days on average. Depending on a number of different variable factors like storage temperature and lettuce quality will greatly affect this timespan for either way.

Can I vacuum pack lettuce

If this question has ever occurred to you it may seem weird as it did to me when I first heard about it but you can definitely vacuum pack lettuce. In fact, vacuum-sealed lettuce lasts more than two weeks on average in the refrigerator which is double the time that unvacuumed lettuce lasts.

There are a couple of things to be aware of before vacuum packing lettuce. First, the lettuce needs to be properly washed as always and it can be in any form desired. Second, you should dry the lettuce thoroughly before vacuum packing it. Lastly, you might think how doesn’t the leaves get crushed in a vacuum bag and you’re right. That’s why I recommend using a vacuum container!

There are two main vacuum sealers for containers which I’m going to show you now.

Vacuum containers with a pump are a fun way to vacuum package your lettuce. The way this works is that you place the pump in the valve and manually pump the air out of the container.

Vacuum containers with a sealer machine work as the one with a manual pump but it has a powerful motor. Simply place the machine over the valve, press a button, and voila, the air is sucked out of the container

You can also vacuum pack lettuce in the bags but you should use a Sealer Machine with a pulse mode, therefore you could leave some air in the bags and the lettuce wouldn’t be crushed.

Conclusion

All of a sudden I’m craving a crispy and fresh salad. Well, that’s what happens when I talk this much about lettuce. In this article, we went through how do restaurants keep lettuce fresh, how to wash and store the lettuce properly along with other important aspects of it.

I sincerely hope that this article gave you value and you can reduce those annoying brown and soggy leaves of lettuce in the future which you should be able to accomplish if you follow the steps above. In other words, keep it fresh!

Omar Abdalla

I’m the owner of JRS and while I love working in a busy restaurant, I also enjoy more peaceful and relaxed cookouts at home.

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