The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

February 24, 2017

How to Buy and Store Loose Lettuce & Leafy Greens Without Plastic

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.

You can order Vegibags directly from the company or from Amazon.com.

 

 

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15 Comments on "How to Buy and Store Loose Lettuce & Leafy Greens Without Plastic"

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I’ve done the following for years and it’s not hard once I learned to “never leave the lettuce uncared for”. I cut off the core end, rinse or soak the leaves, depending on soil, whack the water off the leaves a couple of times against the sides of the sink, then let them “drip dry” a little while splayed out over the dish drainer. Then I get a big smooth (cotton or linen) dish towel and lay out one layer curve up alternating ups and downs of the leaves to fit. Lay another towel over that. Another layer of leaves.… Read more »

What is better buying organic thats wrapped in plastic…can’t find organic without the plastic….or buying conventional without plastic.

Organic is more expensive and uses more pesticides than conventional produce. It also has no nutritional benefit over conventional. I’d be embarrassed to buy organic food. It’s just a way to separate you from your money and make you believe you’re making a difference. The downsides to organic produce are numerous.

I wrap greens in a terry towel. Works great.

My question is from the standpoint of a market manager. I receive bulk spinach and greens in a BIG plastic bag from my distributor. I like the idea of doing bulk rather than repackaging in plastic bags, but how do I store the greens during the day in the fridge for customers to purchase from? Any thoughts? We’re a SMALL natural food store and indoor farmers market in a very small town. So it takes me about 3 days to go through 6lbs of spinach, as an example. Thanks!!

How is this different from just using a towel? I like the idea, but couldn’t you just sew something like this up out of a couple of pieces of terrycloth?

So interesting, it’s the opposite of what I do to try to keep leafy things fresh… I keep them as dry as possible and I don’t wash them until the last minute. I can’t believe keeping lettuce damp for days on end doesn’t give you mush!

Do your vendors not do a tare weight on the bags. I can’t imagine even paying to use a thinner produce bag. Otherwise nice post about a newer product.

Very cool! I will definitely look into those as I often buy lettuce on a whim and then don’t get around too eating it very quickly!

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