Does Lettuce Go Bad? How Long Does Lettuce Last?

Lettuce is a universal food used in kitchens around the world. From salads to sandwiches, lettuce is a healthy choice for adding freshness and flavor. You may have a bag or head of lettuce sitting in your fridge and wonder… how long does it last? Read on to find out if your lettuce is ready for use.

Quick Answer

An unopened head of lettuce does not have a long shelf life, and should not be eaten past its expiration date.  A head of lettuce can last at room temperature for 3 to 5 days. In the fridge, lettuce will be good for 7 days. Frozen lettuce can be consumed for 3 months.

Proper storage of lettuce can help the vegetable to last longer. There are different ways to care for your lettuce to keep it fresh longer. Here are a few suggestions to help keep your lettuce edible.

Does Lettuce Go Bad? How Long Does Lettuce Last?

Lettuce can go bad, and fairly quickly. Several factors influence how fast it takes for your lettuce to spoil. How to store your lettuce significantly impacts its shelf life. Here is some information on the various storage options for lettuce.

How Long Does Lettuce Last Outside?

Lettuce can last a few days outside after it has been picked or bought from the store. However, there are some things to avoid when storing your lettuce outside.

A major detriment to storing your lettuce outside is heat. Heat is bad for lettuce because it causes the leaves to turn brown and wilt. Brown leaves are not safe to eat because they can cause an upset stomach. When keeping your lettuce outside, find a shady spot such as under a tree, and remember to keep it out of direct sunlight.

Air is also bad for lettuce because it cause it to wilt. Air does not cause the leaves to deteriorate as fast as heat but left exposed, the lettuce will wilt and turn brown. Remember to cover your lettuce when it is outside. Foil or saran wrap will do the trick.

Pests are also bad for lettuce and outdoors are a sure place to pick them up. Bugs can leave behind eggs and droppings that can make you sick. Lettuce that has been sitting outside for a while has a good chance of picking up fruit flies and other critters. Remember to cover your lettuce to avoid insects.

How Long Does Lettuce Last in the Fridge?

Storing lettuce in the refrigerator is a great way to get a little more life out of your lettuce. The fridge will help to slow the wilting process. Here are some tips for fridge storage.

When keeping your lettuce in the fridge remember to keep it covered or place it in an air-tight container. Doing this will prevent the air from wilting the leaves.

Freezer bags are also great for keeping lettuce fresh. The bag helps to prevent the lettuce from wilting and turning brown. Be sure to remove excess air from the bag before sealing it.

Remember to check the expiration on your lettuce; if the lettuce does not come with expiration do not keep it in the fridge longer than a week. It is a good idea to label the lettuce with the refrigeration date to make sure you do not keep it for longer than a week.

How Long Does Lettuce Last in the freezer?

Foods high in water content may not perform well when frozen. For this reason, freezing lettuce can be tricky. However, if done properly lettuce can be frozen for up to three months. Here are some tips on freezing lettuce.

When freezing lettuce you must store the lettuce in a zip lock freezer bag. This will help to keep moisture out and stop ice and freezer burn from forming on your lettuce. When storing your lettuce in a freezer bag, remember to push out the excess air before closing.

Dating the freezer bag is important to make sure you do not go over shelf life. Frozen lettuce can last up to three months. Date the bag to ensure you do not surpass this timeline.

Remember to only freeze fresh lettuce. This will help to ensure the quality of your lettuce is not compromised. Also, chop your lettuce up and rinse it off before placing it in the freezer bag, this also makes it easier to thaw.

How to Tell if Lettuce has Gone bad? How to Know if Lettuce is Fresh?

A visual check is the surest way to ensure your lettuce is safe to eat. There are a few other ways to tell if it’s time to toss out your leafy greens.

Smell:  Lettuce has a barely noticeable light fragrance. As the lettuce turns bad, however, the rotten leaves will give off a foul odor. This smell is a sign your lettuce has gone bad. If your lettuce has a strong stench to it, do not eat.

Appearance:  Lettuce is light green in appearance. If your leaves have turned brown or have spots on them that are a sign they are not good to eat. A small brown spot here and there is okay, that can be picked off and thrown away. However, if a large amount of lettuce is brown do not eat. Also, slimy lettuce should not be eaten. Lettuce has high water content but is firm when pressed. If your lettuce is mushy do not eat.

Taste:  Lettuce that has a tart or bitter taste should be thrown out. A bad taste is a sign your lettuce is no good.

Signs of Pests:  Flies and other insects can infect lettuce and cause it to go bad. Lettuce can attract flies that lay maggots and leave behind droppings. Lettuce infected with bugs should not be eaten because the larvae and eggs can make you sick. Check lettuce for bugs, if present, do not eat.

How to Store Lettuce?

Use an airtight container:  Air is bad for lettuce because it causes it to wilt and rot fast. When storing your lettuce it is best to store it in an air-tight container. If you are using bad lettuce simply place the greens in an airtight container or zip lock bag to keep fresh. If you are using a head of lettuce, keeping it in its original packaging is fine as long as it is not opened. If opened, chop lettuce and place it in a zip lock bag.

Date bag:  Lettuce can last up to one week in the fridge. If the lettuce does not come with an expiration date, place a purchase date on the lettuce. It is good for about three to five days after purchase.

Avoid the heat:  Heat is not good for lettuce because it will cause the leaves to melt. When storing your lettuce, store it in a cool dry place such as the fridge. Leaving lettuce out at room temperature will cause it to brown quickly.

Can you Freeze Lettuce?

Yes, lettuce can be frozen and can last several months in the freezer. Proper storage of your lettuce in the freezer will help ensure quality is not lost while frozen. Here are some ways to freeze lettuce.

Use Freezer Bag:  Place lettuce in a freezer bag to keep freezer burn or ice from getting on the lettuce. If your lettuce comes in a bag, you can simply place the whole bag, filled with lettuce, into a freezer bag and freeze. Remember to remove excess air before closing the bag.

Chop Lettuce:  If you are freezing a head of lettuce, the best way to do so is to chop it up before placing it in the freezer bag. This will help it to freeze faster; it will also take up less space in your freezer. Also, chopping the lettuce before freezing helps it to thaw faster and makes it easier to handle.

Date Bag:  Remember to date the freezer bag so there is no confusion as to how long your lettuce has been frozen. Lettuce can be frozen for up to three months, after that, it should be thrown out.

How to thaw Lettuce?

The best way to thaw lettuce is to place the lettuce in the fridge and allow it to thaw overnight. Since the lettuce is going from one cold environment to another, the browning process will be slowed.

Thawing lettuce at room temperature is an efficient and fast way to thaw your leaves. Simply place lettuce, still in packaging, on a dry surface and let thaw for about five hours. DO not run lettuce under hot water, this will cause it to wilt.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Shelf Life of Lettuce

My lettuce has brown spots on it what should I do? A little browning on lettuce is fine as long as it’s just a small spot on it. All you have to do is throw away the leaf that has turned brown. However, if a large portion of your leaves is brown, that is a sign your lettuce is no good and needs to be tossed.

My Lettuce has gone soft, is it safe? Although lettuce has high water content, it is still firm. If you notice that your lettuce feels soft or slimy, that are sure signs that your leaves are rotten and should not be eaten. Lettuce turns watery as it rots, whether a head of lettuce or in a bag. Of your leaves are mushy, do not eat.

Wrap Up

Lettuce is a healthy snack eaten by health-conscious people around the world. Lettuce tastes great on a sandwich or with your favorite dressing. If you love lettuce and would like to share tips and advice on the leafy greens, leave a comment below.

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