How To Wash Lettuce

No one likes a sandy, grainy salad, so it’s important to clean your lettuce properly.  The best way to do this is by immersing your lettuce in very cold water.  The cold water crisps up the lettuce, and the dirt from the lettuce sinks to the bottom of the water.  (If you’re washing a head of lettuce, it’s usually best to separate the head into individual leaves before you wash it.)

We typically wash our lettuce in our salad spinner, but, as you’ll see below, you can just as easily do it in a bowl.   What’s most important is to be gentle with the lettuces and take care not to crush or bruise them, as bruised lettuces make soggy salads.
wash lettuce


Step

1

To wash lettuce in a bowl, fill a large bowl with ice water or very cold water.  (It’s important to use cold water, as this will keep the lettuce crisp.)

wash lettuce


Step

2

Add your lettuce to the water and, very gently, press it under the water.  Carefully, and only briefly, swish the lettuce around in the water with your hands.  (Make sure your hands are clean!)

wash lettuce
Step

3

Lift the lettuce out of the water.  (Never pour out the lettuce along with the used water.  If you do this, you’ll be pouring dirt right back on top of the lettuce!)

wash lettuce


Step

4

You can place the lettuce in another bowl for the meantime…

wash lettuce


Step

5

…and pour out the water that the lettuce was soaking in. 

wash lettuce


Step

6

Rinse out the bowl to remove any leftover dirt or other particles. 

wash lettuce


Step

7

Refill the bowl with ice water or cold water, put the lettuce back in the water, and repeat this process until the lettuce is clean.  (You’ll know the lettuce is clean when there is no dirt left in the water.)  Some lettuces may require only 1 or 2 soakings until they’re clean, while others may take several.

wash lettuce


Step

8

Once the lettuce is clean, dry it.


wash lettuce

Step
1
Alternatively, you can wash your lettuce in a salad spinner.  (Salad spinners are as great for washing lettuce as they are for drying it.)  Remove the top from the salad spinner, keeping the mesh basket inside the main, outer bowl, and fill up the bowl with ice water or very cold water.  (It’s important to use cold water, as this will help keep the lettuce crisp.)

wash lettuce


Step
2

Add your lettuce to the water and, very gently, press it under the water.  Carefully, and only briefly, swish the lettuce around in the water with your hands.  (Make sure your hands are clean!)

wash lettuce

Step

3
Lift the mesh basket out of the water. (Never pour out the water while the basket of lettuce is still in the bowl.  If you do this, you’ll be pouring dirt right back on top of the lettuce!)

wash lettuce


Step

4

Pour out the water from the main, outer bowl…

wash lettuce

Step

5

…and rinse out the bowl to remove any leftover dirt or other particles.

wash lettuce


Step

6

Refill the bowl with ice water or cold water, put the mesh basket full of lettuce back in the water, and repeat this process until the lettuce is clean.  (You’ll know the lettuce is clean when there is no dirt left in the water.)  Some lettuces may require only 1 or 2 soakings until they’re clean, while others may take several.

wash lettuce


Step

7

Once the lettuce is clean, you can — conveniently — spin it dry in the salad spinner.

Notes:
Sometimes lettuces will become a little limp.  To crisp them up, soak them in a bowl of ice water for a few minutes.  When you lift them out of the water, the lettuces will be crispy once again!

If there are any leftover ice cubes mixed in with your lettuce once the lettuce is clean, be sure to remove those ice cubes before you dry the lettuce.

1 medium head of lettuce (about 3/4 pounds) will typically serve 2 or 3 people. A large head of lettuce (about 1 pound), will typically serve 4 people.  However, if you’re serving entrée-sized salads, you may want to use a little more lettuce per person.

Related Tips & Guides
How to Dry and Store Lettuce
How to Separate a Head of Lettuce
How to Dress a Salad

Related Recipes
Basic Dijon Vinaigrette
Lemon Vinaigrette
Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette
 

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