A question I get frequently is how to buy and store loose leaf greens like lettuce or spinach without plastic. I thought I had the perfect solution back in October 2015, when I posted about Lovely Naked Lettuce. But recently, Stacy from Vejibag contacted me with an even better idea. So I thought I would post an update.
Buying Lettuce & Other Greens Without Plastic
To review, most lettuce, even if it’s not wrapped in plastic, has either a plastic band or a big fat twist tie around it. And while some of those twist ties are wire and paper instead of plastic, I’d rather not generate any garbage if I can help it. (How many twist ties can anyone actually reuse? And vendors won’t take them back.)
Fortunately, where I live, we have other options. Sometimes it means choosing a different store, and that’s okay with me. So I only buy lettuce, spinach, and other greens from stores or farmers markets where they are sold loose and plastic-free, bringing them home in an organic cotton produce bag instead of the plastic produce bags offered at the store.
Storing Loose Lettuce & Greens Without Plastic
When I get it home, I remove the lettuce from the bag and soak it in a large stainless steel bowl. Soaking not only washes the leaves (there’s usually a lot of dirt at the bottom of the bowl after soaking) but also rehydrates them, so they will stay crisp when I put them in the refrigerator.
Up until this past week, I would then drain the water, dampen the cotton produce bag, and store the lettuce in the cotton bag in the metal bowl in the refrigerator. The lettuce would stay fresh and fairly crisp all week, although I sometimes had to rewet the bag a few days later.
Vejibag vs. Cotton Produce Bag
That method worked fine for me, but when Stacy sent me a Vegibag to try, I decided to do a comparison to see if it hers worked better than the cloth produce bag I already had.
Vegibags are manufactured in the United States of 100% U.S.-grown and milled organic cotton French Terry. French Terry is much thicker and more absorbent than a normal cotton produce bag, and it’s also heavier, so you wouldn’t want to purchase your greens in one of these bags because of the extra cost for the weight. Transfer from the light-weight produce bag to the Vegibag after you get home.
For my test, I put half of my soaked lettuce greens into each kind of bag and stored for one week in the refrigerator with the bags closed.
A week later, I checked the status of the lettuce in each bag. Both were edible… not too wilted or slimy, but the lettuce in the Vegibag was actually much crisper and perkier than that in the cotton produce bag, almost the same as the day I bought it.
According to the website, you can use Vegibags to store other kinds of produce too, like Artichokes, Asparagus, Arugula, Beets, Beet greens, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Celeriac, Chard, Collards, Cucumber, Eggplant, Fennel, Green beans, Kale, Lettuce, Leeks, Parsnips, Peas, Peppers (don’t wash, just put in damp bag), Radishes, Rhubarb, Spinach, Scallions, Turnips, and Zucchini.