how to revive leafy greens

by Patricia on January 21, 2010 · 12 comments

revived lettuce

Have you ever bought a bunch of leafy lettuce with the intent of making a beautiful salad only to find it wilted in your refrigerator a few days later? What did you do? Did you:
A. throw it away then eat a pound of chocolate because you were so riddled with guilt? Or…
B. revive it and have your salad after all?
If you chose A, you are not alone. I am ashamed to admit how many bunches of lettuce, chard, kale, spinach, [insert your favorite leafy green here] have gone into my refrigerator only to die. But I have learned there is another way.

how to revive wilted greens or lettuce

I don’t remember where I read this, somewhere on the internets probably, but I’ve used this a few times with great success.

  1. (Optional) Cut off an inch of the stem ends (this doesn’t always make sense like with some spinach, and I’ve found it isn’t always necessary. Kind of like cut flowers).
  2. Place greens in a bowl or baking pan large enough to hold all of them. Cover with cold (not icy) water. You want all of the greens submerged if at all possible.
  3. Put the bowl/pan of greens in the refrigerator overnight.
  4. When the leaves look crisp, remove from the water and prepare as usual.

A couple of notes:

  • If your greens are slimy in addition to wilted, I wouldn’t try this. Slimy can’t be revived.
  • Don’t leave the greens in the water for too long. Overnight is really long enough. If you leave cut flowers in the same water for too long it can get gross, the same applies here.
  • I’ve found sometimes the outer leaves don’t revive as well as the inner leaves (maybe I didn’t submerge all of them enough), so you may want to pull away some of the outer leaves before declaring failure.


1 The Food Hunter February 8, 2010 at 12:03 pm

great tips! thanks

2 Jeanee February 2, 2010 at 9:09 pm

AH! I hate wilted lettuce!

You know what I hate more? Buying a bag of romaine salad and almost all of the pieces are the white chunky ones! You pick them all out and you hardly have any salad left. (Totally did that tonight).

I have a question though. Once you take the lettuce out of the water how do you dry it? I buy lots of pre-wash pre cut salad ’cause I hate drying the lettuce.

Thanks to the others with celery and carrot tips too!

3 Linda May 29, 2010 at 8:09 pm

To dry lettuce, invest in a spinner. I got mine at Kohl’s. It spins the water out of the lettuce without damaging it. Works great for anything delicate that needs drying…strawberries, pasta, spinach, beans, etc.

Good luck!

4 Eliana January 28, 2010 at 10:35 am

this is great! i will definitely try this the next time my greems go limp.

5 Karen (Small Town Runner) January 26, 2010 at 4:33 am

Thanks for the tip! I did not know this. (My favorite line: “Slimy can’t be revived.”)

6 Stephanie - Wasabimon January 25, 2010 at 8:42 pm

Great tip! I do this all the time – it works for carrots and celery too. Brings back their nice, crunchy snap, especially if you use ice water.

7 megan January 24, 2010 at 5:24 pm

very useful post! and funny too, because i’ve definitely thrown away plenty of vegetables (not just leafy greens hehe) in the past because I let them go bad. I try to cover them with other things in the garbage so my husband doesn’t notice :)

8 Charles Thompson January 21, 2010 at 8:28 pm

Thanks for this. I throw away far too many greens and ALWAYS feel guilty when I do.

9 Veronica January 21, 2010 at 6:33 pm

Great tip-thanks! In case you hadn’t heard this one–wrapping celery in aluminum foil keeps it from going limp in the fridge–it’s magic! :)

10 Connie Green January 21, 2010 at 1:52 pm

This theory of leafy greens in cold water – I’ve done celery, and it works well.
Thanks for the tips.

11 Michelle January 21, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Great tips. Thank you!

12 Rachel Cotterill January 21, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Or (c) make some wilted greens ;)

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