Does Lettuce Go Bad?

Does lettuce go bad or not? We all know lettuce is healthy for you, but you shouldn't eat lettuce that has gone bad. Here's how you tell.

Lettuce is the key ingredient for a healthy sandwich or salad, as long as it is fresh and crispy. Have you bought too much lettuce and it’s starting to wilt? If that is the case, these questions may pop into your mind:

Has my lettuce gone bad? How long does it last?

This is what you need to know about lettuce. Lettuce has a relatively short shelf-life. Head lettuce, like iceberg or crisphead, lasts longer than loose-leaf lettuce. Head lettuce stays fresh for 10-21 days if stored correctly. On the other hand, leaf lettuce, like looseleaf, butterhead, romaine, lasts 5-10 days.

How To Tell Lettuce Has Spoiled?

lettuce salad with tomatoes

When checking for the quality of your lettuce, be aware that the outer leaves are usually damaged, discolored, or dirty. You’ll want to peel back the leaves and check the inner layers to determine if your batch of lettuce has gone bad.

You may find that the leaves of your lettuce brown around the edges. This is completely normal as the lettuce ages. These parts can simply be cut off and the rest of the unaffected leaves can be consumed.

Another sign to look out for is slimy or mushy leaves. If only the outer leaves are like this, you can toss them out and use the rest. However, if all the leaves are mushy, discard it all.

Fresh lettuce is a green color that darkens to brown or black as it spoils. Look closely at the color of your lettuce before proceeding to use it.

Next, you want to check how the lettuce smells. If it gives off a rancid or off smell, it is a good idea to get rid of it.

Specifically when looking at a head of lettuce, if you find any dark spots on the outer leaves you’re good to go. But the presence of dark spots on the inner leaves is a sure sign to discard the head of lettuce.

A bag of loose-leaf lettuce may be prone to mold if left in the fridge for a few days. So be sure to check that out before you enjoy it.

Storing Lettuce

burger with lettuce

Lettuce should be stored in the fridge as soon as it is bought. Make sure it isn’t damp or moist, as this will hasten the degrading process. You can dry out your lettuce leaves with some paper towels. Head lettuce can be lined with paper towels to absorb excess moisture. Check it often and change it when it’s wet.

Don’t wash your lettuce head before storing it in the fridge. You can wash it just before you’re about to use it.

When it comes to leaf lettuce, get rid of any damaged outer leaves. Then wash and dry the lettuce thoroughly. Once that’s done, wrap the leaves in paper towels and place them in an airtight container or freezer bag.  Once they’re in the fridge, check the dampness of the paper towels. Replace wet paper towels with fresh ones.

The fridge will keep it in the perfect environment to ensure its best quality.

How Long Does Lettuce Last?

lettuce field

Lettuce is not a durable vegetable. Leaf lettuce keeps fresh for 5-10 days in the fridge, while head lettuce lasts 10-21 days in the fridge.

Remember: store your lettuce correctly and with best practices to keep it fresh as long as possible.

In Summary

Here’s a fun fact about this vegetable. It turns out lettuce is the second most popular fresh veggie after potatoes in the U.S. Because of its popularity, you should make sure you know how to store it correctly.

Lettuce should be stored in a cool environment. The fridge is the ideal place. Once it’s refrigerated, your lettuce will probably last anywhere between 5-21 days, depending on what type of lettuce it is. Be sure to pick out good quality lettuce with fewer bruises to enjoy it lasts even longer.

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Alisa Shimoyama

Alisa eats her way around the world on her travels and likes to have good food ready and waiting for her when she gets back.