Sometimes you hold onto produce a bit too long. It goes bad, spoiling despite sitting in the fridge. When produce spoils, eventually it becomes obvious. Fresh apples, bananas, or green eventually brown, smell, and grow mushy. However, it can be difficult to tell exactly at what point produce goes bad. Especially lettuce.
So, at how do you know when lettuce is bad? Lettuce is bad when it turns brown, develops a slick or slimy texture, and starts to smell rancid. Any one of these traits tells you your lettuce went bad and it’s time to throw it out.
One of the first tell-tale signs of spoiling lettuce will be its color. Fresh lettuce shows bright green with white in the center of the leaf. As lettuce wilts, the green begins fading to a brown color. You will see new brown spots forming on the leaves that are distinctly different from the rest of the bunch.
Sometimes you can cut around discoloration, or remove the browning leaves, especially with heads of lettuce. However, if many brown spots occur, throw out the entire batch. Better to be safe than sick.
Lettuce doesn’t naturally smell. Sometimes they feature a slight earthy scent that comes from the ground it was harvested from. However, the stink of spoiled lettuce smells distinctly rancid. You’ll recoil when sniffing.
Lean in and give a big whiff. When in doubt, follow your nose!
Another key sign of bad greens is their texture. Fresh, healthy lettuce won’t develop a wet coating. If lettuce looks sweaty, throw it away. You might sweat under pressure, but lettuce shouldn’t be nervous.
Slime signals degrading leaves. If you swipe your finger across a leaf and feel the moisture, your lettuce went bad. Time to throw it away.
A combination of these three tests reveal whether your lettuce spoiled. Check the color, give it a big sniff, then drag your finger along the leaves. If it looks brown, smells wrong, and feels scummy, you’ve got bad lettuce on your hands.