- Learn the art of rinsing – and drying
- Rejuvenate with iced water
- The fridge dries them out
- Pinch with your fingers, don’t cut
- Be careful about hygiene
It’s all about preserving the flavors, color and crispness of lettuce right until it ends up on the table in front of your guest. Here’s the secret:
Dry on the outside
Rinse and dry it properly. The moisture should be inside the lettuce leaves not on top of them.
The art of rinsing lettuce
Pick off the lettuce leaves by hand. Remove the outermost leaves and everything that looks even slightly wilted. Rinse in cold water. Make sure there are no bits of soil left.
It’s important to carefully dry your lettuce again. Any remaining moisture can make the lettuce watery and will dilute any dressing and/or sauce on the plate. A salad spinner makes the job easier.
If you don’t have one, you can wrap the lettuce leaves in a cloth and shape it into a bag. Grip the ends that close the bag and wave the bundle in the air until dry.
Lettuce that’s whole but droopy can often be rejuvenated with a bath in iced water for half an hour or so. Don’t forget that the lettuce has to drain properly afterwards.
Wet paper also works well for bringing a tired lettuce back to life. Or cover with a damp cloth.
The fridge dries out vegetables in general and lettuce in particular. If you’ve prepared in advance by chopping your leaves, cover them with a damp cloth.
Should you cut lettuce?
The answer is that some types of lettuce can react with ugly brown edges if they’re cut with a knife but not all of them. Pinching off leaves with your fingers is a safer method.
Preparing lamb’s lettuce
This particular type of lettuce often has a lot of roots and soil left when you find it in the shop. Pinch off the roots with your fingers – but not so high up that the leaves fall apart. Rinse carefully if necessary.
Be careful about hygiene
Whenever suspected cases of food poisoning appear in restaurants, it’s often blamed on pork, chicken or mince. But the most common carrier of salmonella, for example, is different types of lettuce and leaves. This is because the bacteria that cause the outbreaks like soil and wet environments and because lettuce is rarely disinfected through cooking. Be careful about rinsing lettuce and green leaves. Only use clean equipment.