How to Fix Wilted Lettuce

This shocking trick promises to revive even the droopiest lettuce.

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Salad lovers rejoice! There’s a smarter, faster way to bring your lettuces, herbs and leafy greens back from the brink. While many intuitively think wilted greens should take a refreshing bath in cold water, we’re here to debunk that myth. Instead, they need to be perked up in a basin of hot water—yes, really! Here’s everything you need to know about fixing wilted greens.

How to Fix Wilted Lettuce

All you need to do is fill a large bowl with hot water (about 120 degrees Fahrenheit). Submerge your wilted greens, and let them soak until they perk up, anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. Then, drain them and cool them off again. If you’re using them immediately, use an ice-water bath. If you have some time, wrap them in a damp towel and refrigerate them.

Where Did Soaking Lettuce in Hot Water Come From?

This hack was recently re-popularized by Bon Appetit‘s Shilpa Uskokovic. However, it’s been around in some form for at least a decade. Uskokovic credits journalist Tracie Macmillan’s 2012 book, The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields, and the Dinner Table for introducing her to the technique.

Apparently, while working at a Walmart, Macmillan was instructed to use this “crisping” method on the produce before shelving it. Additionally, in 2013, Modernist Cuisine, the famous research kitchen, published its advice for “heat-shocking” produce.

Why Heat-Shocking Produce Works

The theory behind heat-shocking is that warm water can open up the lettuce’s cells more quickly than cold water. This, in turn, allows them to absorb water more efficiently, leading to the plumping and crisping effect.

This water plunge technique also works on cut flowers, though florists seem to largely use cooler water for their revivals.

Putting Those Crisp Greens to Use

Now that you’ve extended the shelf life of your favorite greens, it’s time to showcase them in some delicious recipes. If you have lettuce, be sure to check out these recipes that go way beyond boring salads. Or, make your tender herbs the star of the meal with these fresh takes. Finally, if spinach is your thing, venture beyond a palak with these tasty pairings. Whatever your green of choice, we hope you enjoy your newly refreshed vegetables!

Salad Recipes You'll Love
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Van Van Cleave
Van Van Cleave (they/them) is a writer and artist working out of Oakland, CA. The youngest in a long line of DIYers and creatives, Van fancies themself an encyclopedia of practicable knowledge for better living. They are passionate about all things food, home, garden, and lifestyle. If you've ever dreamed of befriending the Fab Five, Van gets you, and may just be the next best thing.