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Red Velvet Lettuce rapid wilting post harvest

Hey guys,

I have some Red Velvet leaf lettuce that I've been growing that wilts quite rapidly. So rapid that it can barely make it to a bowl from the garden. Are some greens just like this? I typically harvest in the afternoon/after work as I don't live at my garden, so i cant get it in the morning which I assume would be best. Is it the afternoon harvest or is it the variety?


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Re: Red Velvet Lettuce rapid wilting post harvest

When I harvest leaf lettuces from my garden, it is usually in the mornings and I have a 5 gallon bucket that has water in it. I'll pick the leaves I want and put them into the cold water to start the rinsing off process to get any dirt that may be on the leaves. After I get the amount I want, I bring the bucket up to the kitchen and run a sink full of cold water to wash the lettuce even more. Then I shake the leaves a bit to get the brunt of the water out and place them on a dishrag on the countertop before bagging it and putting it in the fridge. My lettuce stays crisp for days when stored in a plastic grocery bag and just slightly damp.

That said, I currently have absolutely no lettuce in my garden since it is much too hot to grow right now. For me, it is a fall to spring crop only.

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Re: Red Velvet Lettuce rapid wilting post harvest

Lettuce needs moisture post-harvest to stay fresh. You know those misters on grocery store produce shelves? That's why.

I rinse mine right away, use a salad spinner to get most (not all) of the water off, then store in an air-tight container. The remaining moisture on the leaves humidifies the container and keeps them fresh for 1+ weeks.

Also, yes, harvesting later in the day makes it worse. And taste worse. Bitter compounds are produced during the course of the day in the sun. Early morning is definitely best.

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Re: Red Velvet Lettuce rapid wilting post harvest

If you can't harvest in the morning then wait until early evening when the weather starts to cool a bit before harvest. Then plunge immediately into a bucket or bowl of cool water to keep the leaves fresh.

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Re: Red Velvet Lettuce rapid wilting post harvest

Yep. I use a 2 gal bucket half full of water to put harvested leafy greens in as well. Sometimes water that sat overnight in the bucket is colder than the water from the outside spigot. Overnight water is sometimes dusty with pollen and sometimes little gnats or fallen in spider, ants, etc. but it really doesn't matter since the first dunk floats off some aphids, slugs, and soil from the leaves anyhow.

I noticed that if I don't pay attention and leave the bucket in the sun, the greens that are not submerged wilt, and if I forget and the sun warms up the bucket water, same thing.

So I leave the bucket with greens in the shade, and then take it back to the outside spigot or hose, run water out of them -- especially the hose can be holding scalding hot water -- then use the cool water to gently fill the bucket to the top and allow to overflow for the floating debris to spill over, dunking the leaves gently. Then I lift the leaves a small handful at a time into a second bucket in which I have water swirling in. The first bucket has surprising amount of junk in it. This gets dumped out while the second bucket fills and the swirling water washes the leaves. During this process, any undesirable leaves or portions of leaves are removed.


If you are doing this at a remote site, maybe take water-filled bottles and frozen water-filled bottles to chill the water with.


I repeat one more time -- sometimes I STILL find slugs or cabbageworms that had been hiding somewhere in this final rinse bucket -- then lift the leaves into a colander. That's my outside wash. After they are brought inside, they get processed some more for storage in the fridge.

For big harvest, I use bigger buckets or sometimes big storage tubs.
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