It’s the season for salads, from cobb to ceasar, and we couldn’t be more excited. Yet with so many great salads to satisfy your palate, the same question keeps coming up, “What is the best way to wash lettuce?”
First we should mention why it’s so important to wash your lettuce before preparing or serving a salad. Most people know that they should do it but often it’s not done correctly or in some cases not done at all. Infections like E. coli and other unsafe bacteria are easily avoided by properly washing your greens. And especially if you’re getting your lettuce from a garden or local farm, you’ll want to make sure you rinse out any possible dirt (where bacteria often hides) or bugs that you don’t want in your salad.
If you eat a lot of salads you can go out and buy a salad spinner but that’s going to cost you a minimum of $25 in most places. Really once you have the technique down, it’s not hard to do and it will save you money and any potential health issues from unwashed lettuce. All you need is a roll of paper towels, a colander , a dish towel and of course water. These salad washing tips should work for any type of lettuce you use, though time spent may vary depending on the lettuce type. Washing romaine may be easier than iceberg but the steps remain the same.
Assuming you have removed the core or stalk of your lettuce, you can either wash directly under running water or place the lettuce in a bowl of water. A bowl of water will make it much easier to get all the areas of the lettuce but you can still wash well under a sink if you are thorough.
After the leaves have been submerged (about 30 seconds should do) or washed thoroughly, remove each leaf and shake shake shake all the water off you can. If possible to do this outside, you’ll have a much easier time and much dryer kitchen but regardless, do your best to get as much as you can off the lettuce. Once shaken dry, place each leaf (or several if iceberg) on a paper towel and fold over and pat dry. Be gentle as you don’t want to mush up the lettuce but you want to be firm enough to get all the excess moisture so your salad is crisp, not soggy.
Now you can put your lettuce back in the colander to dry. If you’re pressed for time, you can place a dishtowel over the top of the colander tight and shake vigorously to get all the excess water gone. Another way we’ve heard it done is to load all the lettuce into the dishtowel and twist it around and around so no leafy greens will escape. Then you swing the towel around and around like a powerful wind up. We think this sounds like a pretty neat idea and lots of fun too.
Once your lettuce is dry it will be ready to add to your wooden salad bowl with all the fixings. The lettuce should be crisp, delicious and clean and healthy for you and your family.