Keeping lettuce fresh

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by shimmer, May 25, 2001.

  1. shimmer

    shimmer

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    Does anyone have a creative idea that helps keep lettuce from turning mushy? Where I work, we use the mesclin spring mix, and I spend way too much time picking through it. It's pretty disgusting, but I've noticed one of the four types seems to go bad faster. I don't want a customer biting into slime!!!!

    Right now, we store it in the fridge at the salad station in plastic containers with lids. We go through one or two boxes a day, usually.

    What has worked for you?

    ~~Shimmer~~
     
  2. logose

    logose

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    I am not sure if you want to go through the expense,but quite a few years ago, I worked for a catering firm that after washing their lettuce(just drained but not necessary to dry it for the moisture helps keep it nice) would spread it out on a long piece of paper towels (from a roll that you would get for home use) and then just roll it up and place it in a big zip lock plastic bag and stick it in the reach in. When you need some you can take it out and unravel and then use it. It seemed to keep it nice and fresh for a good deal of time. :)
     
  3. pooh

    pooh

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    That's exactly what I do. How much lettuce are we talking about here? I don't know if this is viable in a restaurant setting.

    What do you think Shimmer?

    :rolleyes:
     
  4. greg

    greg

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    The two problems with any leaf product (herbs included) are temperature extremes and excessive moisture. The plastic containers you use help insulate the mesclun from the reach-in or walk-in temp, which is about 10-15 deg.'s F colder than the ideal storage temp for it. Putting a few paper towels in the container can help absorb excess moisture from washing and condensation.

    Also, good receiving practices can help eliminate future problems. If there is even one bit of slimy greens in a container when it comes in the door, I send it back because they seem to multiply like rabbits. Checking your product for little slimies on a daily basis helps extend shelf-life, as well.
     
  5. shimmer

    shimmer

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    I think adding paper towels, at least to the container, is very viable and helpful. The rolling thing would even work on days I have less to do. I have to cut different kinds of lettuce by hand and put them through the lettuce spinner, but the kinds that go bad faster are the ones that come in boxes. Now that I think about it, they are sent with paper in them and of course I take it out, but adding fresh paper in is a great idea.

    Thanks all, I will do this TODAY!!! I do pick the slimy ones out, and most of the time I can throw it out if there are too many bad leaves, but every once in a while it seems like the kitchen manager decides to be a bit stingy, and I once spent 45 minutes picking through baby spinach! It's enough to make you batty!!!

    Anyway, thanks again.

    ~~Shimmer~~
     
  6. greg

    greg

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    Spend 45 minutes in labor to pick through spinach to get a yield that you can't determine till you're done? Sounds like your KM needs a math lesson. :eek:
     
  7. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    Greg, I agree that most coolers have to be kept too cold for proper lettuce storage. But I disagree on using plastic containers with lids, especially if the lids are tight fitting. Storing greens like that keep too much moisture inside and promotes decay. I find that placing greens, wrapped in a slightly damp tablecloth, in a bus tub is about the best way to store greens. It allows the greens to breathe, but keeps them from drying out and wilting. I other question is-how quickly are your greens going bad? A box of pre-washed mesculan greens should last a number of days in your cooler. I have opened boxes that have slipped out of rotation 4-5 days after they came in and they were perfectly fine. If they are turning quickly, then your purveyor is either not handling them properly or knows that he can get away with sending your restaurant sub-standard product.
     
  8. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    Greg, I agree that most coolers have to be kept too cold for proper lettuce storage. But I disagree on using plastic containers with lids, especially if the lids are tight fitting. Storing greens like that keep too much moisture inside and promotes decay. I find that placing greens, wrapped in a slightly damp tablecloth, in a bus tub is about the best way to store greens. It allows the greens to breathe, but keeps them from drying out and wilting. I other question is-how quickly are your greens going bad? A box of pre-washed mesculan greens should last a number of days in your cooler. I have opened boxes that have slipped out of rotation 4-5 days after they came in and they were perfectly fine. If they are turning quickly, then your purveyor is either not handling them properly or knows that he can get away with sending your restaurant sub-standard product.
     
  9. greg

    greg

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    Good catch, Pete; I'd missed that detail (about the lids) in Shimmer's post. Plastic is the way to go, though, as is the case with the bus tub. I've seen places store their greens in hotel pans and metal third pans; they can go bad in one day. :eek: