I’m a Chef That’s Tried Every Trick for Keeping Lettuce Crisp—This Is the No. 1 Way To Avoid Soggy Salad Greens
For me, texture is everything. Especially when it comes to food. So the mere thought of noshing on a refrigerator-cold pile of wilted romaine that’s reduced to half its original size might send a shudder down my spine. That said, there are plenty of genius ways to prevent this from happening in the first place. Namely, how you prep your ingredients, when you add the dressing, and how you store it, too. Five essential ways to keep your salads as crisp as possible ahead.
5 genius ways to keep your salads from getting soggy
1. Avoid adding salt too soon
First things first, avoid adding salt to your salad too soon. Why? Let’s rewind for a minute to our grade school lesson on osmosis. According to ~science~, osmosis occurs when water naturally moves from an area containing less salt to an area containing more salt. As such, salt has the ability to draw out moisture from ingredients like fruits and veggies, leading to a reduction in water content, size, and their (once inviting) crispy, crunchy texture.
Salt has the ability to draw out moisture from ingredients like fruits and veggies, leading to a reduction in water content, size, and their (once inviting) crispy, crunchy texture.
What’s more, the water drawn out from these ingredients can result in condensation when stored in a sealed container housing your prepped salad. The issue? Moisture is salad’s public enemy number one and a one-way ticket to soggy salad town. To avoid this issue, we recommend seasoning the salad just before consuming it to avoid any premature moisture loss.
2. Leave it undressed
Always keep your *salads* undressed, that is, until the last minute. As mentioned, moisture tends to make salads go soggier even faster. That said, it’s even quicker when the dressing is made up of acidic ingredients like vinegar or citrus—which, in most cases, they are. The acid in these ingredients can break down the cell structure of tender greens leading to their demise even faster. To prevent this from happening, simply dress and toss your salad moments before consuming it.
3. Remove excess moisture from high-water-content fruits and vegetables
Did you know that cucumbers are made up of roughly 96 percent water? Although ingredients like watermelon, lettuce, and tomatoes are some of the best foods for hydration, this also means that they can add tons of moisture to your prepped salads. However, by removing the seeds of veggies like cucumbers and tomatoes, you can help reduce excess water that can lead to soggy salads. And before you chuck the seeds into the trash, remember they can be repurposed to flavor your dressing or even planted to start your DIY garden this spring.
4. Let your hot ingredients cool completely before adding them to the mix
Another sneaky moisture-inducing culprit that can ruin a salad is the roasted or cooked ingredients you toss into the mix. When roasting a tray of vegetables like sweet potatoes and asparagus or grilling a batch of chicken, you’ll want to ensure they're completely cooled before combining them with the leafy greens. Warm veggies and hot proteins can "cook" your greens and lead to an accumulation of condensation in the salad container. To reiterate, salads hate moisture.
Warm veggies and hot proteins can "cook" your greens and lead to an accumulation of condensation in the salad container. To reiterate, salads hate moisture.
5. The order in which you build a salad is key
According to a recent TikTok video by @chicago.dietitian, Samar Kullab MS, RDN explains that storing your salads in a mason jar is not only great for aesthetics, but it’s also efficient. Doing so can help prolong the life of a salad for up to five days. However, the key is layering the ingredients in the appropriate order. Kullab notes that the dressing should be at the very bottom of the jar; meanwhile, the leafy greens must be at the very top.
@chicago.dietitian Great way to prep your salads for the week without having them get soggy! #masonjarsalad #saladjar #hacksoflife #nutrition #dietitian #weightloss #saladrecipe #healthyrecipe #fyp #learnontiktok ♬ Me Porto Bonito - Bad Bunny & Chencho Corleone
At the bottom of her mason jar salad recipe, Kullab adds lemon pepper vinaigrette seasoned with a pinch of sumac and pomegranate molasses. Then, she layers the salad with chopped fruits and veggies like Persian cucumbers, radishes, serrano peppers, lemon, tomatoes, and scallions. Following this, Kullab adds the leafier, more delicate ingredients, including minced fresh mint and chopped romaine lettuce. Lastly, she adds baked pita chips before sealing the mason jar with the lid. To keep the salad from getting soggy, ensure the jar is stored upright in the refrigerator to help keep the dressing away from the tender greens.
Once ready to consume, Kullab inverts the mason jar and drops its contents into a large bowl. However, you can also give the mason jar a good shake to dress the salad in the jar—and eat straight from the container too.
An anti-inflammatory salad to include in your meal prep rotation:
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