Pre-Confirmation of Lettuce Status
When checking whole heads of romaine, it is worthwhile to do a precheck that consists of scanning some sample leaves from the outside, middle, and inside of the lettuce head for the presence of insects. If, while
scanning you discover insects, then make an assessment based on the quantity found if it is even worthwhile to use this lettuce. If six insects are found in one head of lettuce, it is not recommended to use that head.
A heavily infested head (finding at least one insect on most of the sample leaves) can still retain its insects even after a thorough wash. If lettuce is found to be clean (insects are not found on most of the sample leaves), then follow the guidelines below.
In the summer months, while scanning whole romaine leaves, one should also look for leaf miner trails. If a trail is found, that part of the leaf containing the trail should be discarded.
Aphids, thrips, spider-mites, leaf miners
» Can be found in the folds and crevices of the leaves
Steps for cleaning iceberg lettuce
1. Cut lettuce from the base; split the lettuce head, preferably
2. Follow the steps in the leaf-by-leaf inspection
Alternatively, use the thrip / mesh cloth method
The steps for leaf-by-leaf inspection of produce are:
- Pull leaves from the produce item.
- Fill a large bowl / pan with water and a soapy solution. The bowl/ pan should be large enough to enable you to vigorously move around the leaves, as described below. The amount of soapy
solution should be enough to make the water feel slippery and be sudsy.
- Submerge leaves in the soapy solution for approximately two minutes.
- Thoroughly move around leaves in solution.
- Remove leaves from solution.
- Thoroughly rinse both sides of the leaf under a strong stream of water, ensuring that each leaf is open and all the crevices are fully exposed.
- Dry the leaves by patting dry or with a vegetable spinner.
- Confirm that the washing was done thoroughly by inspecting both sides of each leaf, including opening up all folds and crevices. This should be done using a light box or in well-lit area.
» If more than one insect is found on the leaves, the entire process
of washing and inspecting all the leaves must be repeated.
» If only one insect is found on a leaf, discard that leaf; the remaining leaves can be used
Thrip / Mesh Cloth Method:
1. 2 Large containers
2. 2 Colanders
3. Vegetable Wash or any Other Soapy Solution
4. Special Mesh Material (Call Vaad Office to Obtain Material)
5. Light box
6. Spray Bottle
8. Loupe to Confirm Insect’s Prese
STEP 1: Pre-checking the produce
- Separate the bunches of herbs/florets/leaves; proceed with the following steps:
- Firmly hold each bunch/floret/leaf and forcefully hit it against the light box (if produce is noticeably wet it should be dried in a vegetable spinner prior to this step).
- Inspect the light box for insects after hitting each bunch/ floret/leaf (do not wait to inspect the light box until after hitting all the bunches/florets/leaves).
- If, after inspecting the light box, 3 insects of any type (aphids, thrips, mites) are found, the product should not be used.
- If there are fewer than 3 insects, then proceed with Step 2:
STEP 2: Washing the produce
- Fill one container with soapy solution and cold water, using enough solution to make the water feel slippery without causing an excessive amount of suds.
- Place the totally separated produce into the container; leave it for five minutes. Then thoroughly move around the produce. Be sure not to overload the container, leaving ample room to soak and move around the produce.
- Remove the produce from the container; rinse the produce very thoroughly under a strong stream of water. Proceed with Step 3.
STEP 3: Final preparation for checking produce
- Place produce into second clean container; repeat Steps 2a and 2b.
- Line one colander with the mesh cloth and place the second colander into the lined colander so that they fit closely together. Drain the soapy water from the container through the colanders, ensuring that all the contents (including sudsy film adhering to the container walls) are washed out of the container and drained through the mesh cloth.
- Remove mesh cloth from between the colanders and place on light box.
PLEASE NOTE: You are checking the contents that were in the water
STEP 4: Checking thrip / mesh cloth
- Use the spray bottle to dissipate suds for easier inspection.
- Use the toothpick and the spray bottle to assist in separating all debris until completely separated.
- Carefully inspect mesh cloth for the presence of insects (aphids, thrips, mites).
- If even one insect is found, this can indicate that there are more insects in the actual product, and the entire process (Steps 2, 3, 4).
Whole Romaine Lettuce/ Hearts of Romaine:
Aphids, thrips, mites, leaf miners
» Can be found on the surface of the leaf or inside the inner layers of the leaf
Whole Romaine Lettuce:
1. Cut lettuce from the base
2. Follow the steps in the leaf-by-leaf inspection method Alternatively, use the thrip / mesh cloth method
In contrast to hearts of romaine, whole romaine lettuce heads are significantly more prone to insect infestation and, therefore, must be meticulously soaked and washed. Because of this, we advise that romaine hearts be purchased as they are a more premium and clean product
NOTE: When using romaine hearts, you may encounter certain leaves that are very tightly folded. These leaves can be hiding insects that may not come out even during the soaking and rinsing process. Therefore, if you notice these types of leaves, the folds should be opened or cut away before soaking and rinsing, thereby exposing any insects that might be hidden from the eye.
Other Lettuces — Bib, Boston, Butter, Green-Leaf, Red-Leaf,Oak Leaf:
These lettuces are curlier than hearts of romaine. Curlier leaves are more difficult to clean, as insects tend to hide in the folds and crevices of the leaves. Therefore, whenever possible one should avoid curlier leaves.
However, if these lettuces are used, one should follow the entire procedure described above under whole romaine lettuce, and then inspect all the leaves very carefully.