Why does salad have to wilt?

I really just wish that salads wouldn’t wilt.

I had my leftover salad from CPK today for lunch (fully knowing it would probably be wilted) and it was just a sad sight, and a sad meal. The salad was so crisp and fresh yesterday with amazing croutons and shreds of parmesan cheese..but today, not so much.

I know this is my fault but there was just so much of it leftover that it justified being saved for a lunch. Complete with the extra sourdough bread I stole, the flavor of the caesar dressing and the croutons (though soggy) still somehow sufficed. But why does lettuce have to wilt?

What exactly causes this, does anyone know? When you buy salad at grocery stores, it seems to stay fresh in the bags until you use it. What’s the problem (besides the dressing?)

-Hillary, off to buy the Amateur Gourmet’s new book!
Editor, Recipe4Living

  • http://play-with-food.blogspot.com Deborah Dowd

    You can save it if you put some aside before dressing. It is the dressing that weighs it down and turns it into a droopy slimy mess!

  • JEP

    Wilted salad—yuck! Damp paper towel over left over (without dressing) help? I also want AG’s new book!

  • GilloD

    I was hard pressed to find a real answer, but this came up:

    “Put one small piece of lettuce in a saucer of vinegar, and one in a saucer of oil. Check them every five minutes. What happens? The one in the oil wilts first. Here’s why: lettuce has a waxy coating that protects the leaves from rainwater and water loss. Water tends to bead up and roll off a lettuce leaf. But oil clings to its waxy surface, quickly seeping into cracks, entering the air pockets between cells, and making the leaf darken and wilt. Vinegar will also damage lettuce leaves eventually, but because it is water-soluble it takes much longer than oil to get past the waxy coating. That’s why the best dressed lettuce is simply undressed–at least until the last minute!”

    It just has delicate sensibilities, I suppose. Anyhow, you popped into my ChowHound thread and I really appreciated it, I was wondering if I could toss a few Q’s at you? Thanks!

  • http://www.recipe4living.com Hillary

    Yea, unfortunately I was referring to restaurant salads where they’re already served with dressing, but they’re too big to finish. Can’t solve that problem!

    Thanks for the tip. You should get AG’s book!

    Thanks for looking that up for me! I’d be glad to answer your questions. I’ll contact you.

  • victoria

    Most salad dressings contain salt or salt-based spices that change the
    osmotic balance between the inside and outside of the lettuce cells. If the
    dressing sits on the lettuce for too long before eating, the water
    inside the lettuce cells, which make it crisp, is drawn out of the cell and the
    cell becomes limp.

  • James


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