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Why Does My Lettuce Look Rusty?

A head of lettuce has rusted edges.
CHALERMPHON SRISANG/Shutterstock.com

Storing lettuce can be tricky. Sometimes, when you reach in the crisper drawer in your fridge for that head you bought just the other day, you discover it already has soggy bits and brown spots. There’s a reason why this happens, and you can fix it.

If your lettuce looks rusty, it’s likely because the way you’re storing it is allowing too much moisture to accumulate. The good news is these rusty-looking bits don’t make lettuce inedible. Of course, you can just cut them off, but if you do happen to consume any, they’re not harmful.

While the exact reason for “rusting” is unknown, handling and storage are the most likely causes. An oxidizing effect occurs when compounds in the lettuce (polyphenols) link together to fight off potential attacks from fungus or mold, both of which crop up when there’s too much moisture.

But you can prevent this with proper storage.

First, just remove the lettuce leaves from the core, and then submerge them in cold water. Move them around for a few minutes to clean them, and then, use a salad spinner to dry them.

Cover them with paper towels and let them sit in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill. Finally, place the dried, chilled leaves in a sealed container, and they should be good for up to five days.

Others recommend storing lettuce leaves completely submerged in water and sealed in a mason jar. If you change the water every few days, they should be good for up to two weeks.

The trick to storing lettuce is avoiding that middle area, where things can get rusty and soggy instead of crispy and slightly moist or submerged. Pick the option that works best for you and you’ll be able to avoid that rusty residue.

[Via First for Women]

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is an Atlanta-based writer who has written about everything from whether Crisco is a good moisturizer to how to KonMari your space. Her work has appeared in Bustle, My First Apartment, and Make It Grateful. Read Full Bio »

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