Your mouth is watering for a nice, crispy salad on a hot day, but when you remove the lettuce from the refrigerator, you exclaim, "My lettuce froze in the fridge!" Being the amateur sleuth that you are, you ask yourself why your lettuce froze in the fridge and how to stop lettuce from freezing in the fridge. The solution isn't as complicated as you may think. It's just a matter of understanding your refrigerator's cooling system and how you store food inside the fridge.
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Determine the Cause of Lettuce Freezing
The first thing you need to get is a refrigerator thermometer. They are relatively inexpensive and can save you a considerable amount of money lost to spoiled food. Get one with a suction cup attached and keep it on the side of the interior of the refrigerator in the center and away from the cooling vents. Check it first thing in the morning. It should read between 36 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit but check your owner's manual for the specifics of your model.
Most refrigerators direct air from the freezer to the main cabinet and blow that cold air throughout, cooling the stored food. The air vent at the top of the refrigerator conducts that cold air, and any food placed directly underneath that vent gets the coldest air. Thus, leafy vegetables and food in the fridge freezes, especially those with a high water content.
Why Lettuce Freezes
The composition of lettuce is primarily water. Most leafy vegetables are susceptible to freezing, and storing them properly can partially solve that problem. Most refrigerators have a crisper drawer that is separate from the main food storage area, and this is where the lettuce and other vegetables should be stored. If the crisper is full, put the lettuce in the main cabinet close to the front.
The cold air pushes down from the top and circulates downward and through the sides. Keep all food away from the sides of the cabinet. The circulating air draws moisture out of the lettuce, making it limp before freezing. The rear and bottom of the refrigerator are the coldest areas.
How to Stop Lettuce From Freezing in the Fridge
Once you've solved the mechanics of the refrigerator, keeping lettuce from freezing is a matter of storage. Wash the lettuce and roll it in a kitchen towel to remove as much moisture as possible. Wrap portions in paper towels and place them in a heavy-duty plastic bag that is made for the freezer. Be sure it's closed tightly with no air contained inside the bag. Store it in the crisper or the front of the refrigerator to prevent freezing.
Another trick for keeping food from freezing in your fridge is to keep it full. The cooling system pumps the cold air regardless of how much food is inside, and keeping the fridge half empty is an invitation for freezing. A well-stocked fridge is a happy fridge and may keep you from exclaiming, "My salad froze in the fridge!"