If you're lazy but also like to eat healthy from time to time, you're probably familiar with the wonder that is bagged salad. If you're a frequent bagged salad buyer, you may have noticed that after a couple days, your salad can start to get soggy and a pool of liquid starts to collect at the bottom of the bag. Well some new, kind of gross research found this "salad juice" encourages bacteria — so when you start to see that greenish brown liquid pooling in the bag, it's probably time to throw it out.
Researchers at the University of Leicester in England found that when salad leaves get damaged, the "salad juice" starts to form. When the salad juice forms in a closed bag, it can encourage bacteria to stick to the leaves and the inside of the bag more aggressively. The researchers also noted that bacteria, such as salmonella, can even grow more aggressively inside your refrigerator when it comes into contact with salad juice. So basically? Salad juice is just about as gross as it sounds, and it's best to stay away from it.
That being said, just because salad juice can be kind of iffy doesn't mean you need to swear off salad — or even bagged salad — forever. It's important to note that salad juice doesn't create salmonella or other bacteria, it can just promote its growth where it already exists. So just because you are starting to see wet leaves doesn't mean you're bound to get ill, but even so, it doesn't hurt to be safe. Luckily there are a few simple steps you can take to minimize your risk.
Check The Expiration Date
You should be doing this anyway, but you should check the best by date on your bag of salad. Lettuce lasts about 3 to 5 days past its sell by date, so make sure you're giving yourself enough time to eat it before it goes bad.
Stay Away From Mushy Leaves
If a bag of salad is looking pretty wilted and wet, it's probably best to pass. If you're already seeing salad juice accumulating in the bag in the store, it's definitely best to pass in favor of a fresher one.
Store Salad Correctly
Even though your salad comes in a handy plastic bag, that might not be the best way to keep it fresh. Lifehacker.com says the best way to store salad is to put it in a bowl, place a paper towel on top of the greens, and cover the whole bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Personally, I wrap my salad in a paper towel or two and store it in a Ziploc bag, which works fine for me. I think the paper towel here is key for a juice-free salad experience.
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