Have you bought a bag or container of leaf lettuce and a week later end up throwing it out with the trash because it has wilted in the refrigerator unopened? Or, maybe you buy lettuce with plans for making a salad, but are too rushed during the week to even think about taking time out to prepare a salad.
There’s one easy solution to avoid wasting lettuce and salad makings and that’s with a salad in a jar. It may take a few minutes of your time upfront, but you can prepare several quart or even pint size jars filled with salad. You can lock in the freshness by vacuum sealing each jar, extending the shelf life for not just the lettuce but everything you’ve layered inside the jar.
Where to Start
Set aside 30 minutes to create a week’s worth of salads. Start with the lettuce.
- Wash the lettuce in a colander and transfer to a salad spinner.
- Once the lettuce is processed, spread out onto several paper towels to drain any remaining moisture.
- Save the lettuce for the very last layer of salad.
Decide What You Want in You Salad
Most people have specific vegetables they like in their salad. Some of the best choices for a salad in a jar are ones that aren’t extremely moist and will get soupy or mushy. Some of these include:
There are many other vegetables you may prefer in your salad. The good news is that with so many choices, you can make several different types of salads, some with and others without lettuce.
Use other greens along with or in place of lettuce, such as kale or spinach. Go for a Greek salad, chef’s salad or even a taco salad.
- Wash all vegetables and pat dry with paper towels.
- Slice and/or dice each type of vegetable by hand or with a vegetable slicer.
- Set each vegetable type in an assembly line for easy access when you begin to layer into the jars.
How To Layer Salads in a Jar
Use only clean jars. Make sure each jar has a canning lid that hasn’t been used so the rubber seal will fit snugly over the jar mouth.
Add in Layers
To avoid creating a soupy mess, you want to place the hearty vegetables inside the jar for the first layers. If you plan to take a lunch salad jar to work, you may want to make the first layer the dressing you wish to use, followed by vegetables, such as:
- First layer should be salad dressing, followed by nuts, then tomatoes (cherry or grape).
- The next layer can then be radishes, pepper, then cucumbers.
- Keep layering each vegetable, olives, etc according to how much moisture it has.
- Add your favorite feta or other cheese.
- The last layer should be the leafy greens, such as lettuce, spinach, kale, etc.
Seal and Store
Leave a one-inch head room between the salad and top of jar. If you don’t own a FoodSaver® or similar sealing system, you can still store salad jars for about a week in the refrigerator. Simply place a caning lid and ring over the jar mouth and tighten the ring. You’re done and ready for salads for a week.
Seal with a FoodSaver®
If you wish to extend the shelf life of your salad, then a FoodSaver® is the ideal way to seal in the freshness of your salad. Center a canning lid on the jar mouth. FoodSaver® has a wide mouth and regular mouth sealing attachment that you’ll place over the jar lid. Simply turn on the FoodSaver® to seal the jar air tight.
The lack of oxygen will slow down the aging process of the salad and preserve the crispness and of course vitamins and minerals. You can always add a ring to the jar, especially if you’ll not be eating the entire salad at one sitting. You will need a handheld bottle opener to pry the lid from the jar.
Store in Refrigerator
Once you’ve sealed the jars, place them in the refrigerator. You may like to create pint and quart salads. A pint may be a great addition to a full meal while a quart might serve as your entire meal. Couples may like to share a quart-size salad.
If you have both pint and quart salad jars, you always have a smaller salad that can be eaten as a healthy snack. Just grab a salad jar on your way out the door in the morning. It’s easy to slip one in an insulated lunch bag for school or work. If you choose to add the salad dressing as the first bottom layer, simply shake the jar to distribute the dressing. You can then eat the salad directly out of the jar or empty it into a bowl or plate.
Making Salad Dollars Stretch
The key to preventing salad makings from going to waste is taking the time to prepare them. If you make it a practice to create salad jars soon after unpacking your groceries, you’ll be surprised how much money you can save. The added bonus is the healthier lifestyle you’ll be creating as part of your normal diet routine.