A new wave of “produce keepers” is cramming supermarket shelves, promising to extend the life of fresh produce. But after testing a handful of them—including this good-looking model from Progressive—we found that the original supermarket packaging might be the best way to keep produce fresh after all.
Gadget name: Progressive Lettuce Keeper
It looks like: A clear plastic box with a green plastic lid and holes on the bottom with a drainage area below.
How we tested it: We filled the container with a pint of strawberries or 15 ounces of baby spinach, then placed it in the refrigerator along with the same items left in their original packaging. We checked the produce every other day for two weeks and recorded any signs of decay.
Drawbacks: This lettuce keeper actually did worse than simply keeping the berries and lettuce in their original packaging. That did a better job controlling the degree of moisture and oxygen exposure that can make your produce go bad.
Good to know: Fruits and vegetables need a humid atmosphere to avoid drying out. But this presents a storage problem: While airtight containers keep that vital moisture in and limit oxygen exposure, they also create ideal conditions for mold and bacterial growth. The lettuce keepers we tested either kept in moisture but also trapped ethylene (a gas that accelerates ripening and spoilage), but didn’t “neutralize” its adverse effects, or let moisture escape along with the ethylene.
My favorite part: If I must choose, it’s that the model has an adjustable vent for two settings for different types of produce (including berries and leafy greens).
Best for: Using as a colander. The perforated plastic box would probably be better at draining cleaned produce than keeping it fresh.
Overall: It looks great—but it’s all looks. You’re better off controlling refrigerator temperature (and storing green leafy veggies in the lowest shelves in the fridge and berries in the middle shelves) than buying this lettuce keeper.
For a produce-related kitchen gadget that did impress us, check out our review of Chef’n’s StemGem Strawberry Hull Remover.