Rocket, also known as Arugula, is a challenge to store. This spicy, flavorful salad leaf might surprise you. When the first frost hits it, its flavors develop, making it even more spicy and gorgeous on your salad. Is Rocket going to turn to slime when frozen?
Did you know that Rocket/arugula was used as an aphrodisiac in ancient times? It has some merits! Rocket is claimed to have many health benefits, such as preventing cancer due to the complex compounds that can be found in the leafy green vegetable.
This article investigates how you can extend the shelf life of Rocket/arugula so you can enjoy this delicious and beneficial salad leaf out of season. We answer frequently asked questions bringing you the knowledge needed to increase the longevity of this fabulous salad leaf.
Let’s get into it.
Does Rocket expire?
Yes, faster than a Rocket leaving the planet. Well, not that quick, but you get the drift. Rocket typically lasts for a couple of days in the fridge.
Salad leaves are always tricky to store and keep fresh. If you have tried to keep them in the water, you will notice they become perky for an hour or two, and then they wilt off.
For Rocket/arugula, the best way is to pick what you have growing for your fresh leaves, but if you are not fortunate enough to be growing Rocket, then the store-bought leaves are your only option.
If you have a store-bought Rocket, wash it before your salad and dry the leaves thoroughly. Leaving water on Rocket leaves encourages them to start to discolor and wilt.
When storing salad leaves, they should be placed in a paper bag with the top left open for airflow and popped in the crisper.
But they can also be placed in Ziploc bags with the air squeezed out to reduce the level of oxidation which also seems viable.
To maximize the life of salad leaves, keep the fridge set at 40℉. It’s the right temperature to hold the bacteria growth at bay and not too cold to damage the Rocket leaves.
If you have a Rocket in the fridge for more than two days, it may be ok. If the leaves are wilting, use them in a mixed salad with a since dressing, and they will be OK to consume.
If a few leaves look beyond their best and exhibit some mushy slime, pick them out and use the good leaves for as long as possible.
Does covering Rocket’s leaves make a difference?
It is possible to keep Rocket in the fridge for more than a couple of days by placing the Rocket in an airtight container with a good sealable lid.
It will work best if the airtight container is full of Rocket instead of a few leaves. Irs also suggested storing Rockets in paper bags with airflow, placing Rocket in Ziplocs, and expelling the air from the bag, reducing oxidation, which is ultimately what rots the leaves.
It does seem as if Rocket should be covered to extend the life of salad leaves in the fridge. The leaves should be placed in the crisper for the best results.
Does Rocket/ Arugula need to be refrigerated?
Yes. Once harvested, the Rocket leaves should be cleaned and placed in the fridge. If you buy a Rocket from the grocery store, it will likely be flushed with nitrogen to remove the air and extend its shelf life. It’s easy to tell if it has been flushed with nitrogen or inert gas. The bag will be bulging.
When you store Rocket leaves, they should be cleaned and dried to remove all the water. Placid into a Ziploc bag, remove as much air as possible from the bags and then store in the fridge.
Alternatively, clean the Rocket leaves and place them in a paper bag. This will prevent moisture that will degrade the Rocket leaves and place the bag in the crisper.
Can you put warm Rocket leaves in the fridge?
It may sound like a craze question, but hold your horses for a second. Rocket leaves are added to hot pizza to bring some freshness and color to the pizza. For most folks, a pizza does not get eaten in one sitting, so warm pizza with Rocket leaves could be placed in the fridge!
Placing warm pizza with Rocket leaves in the fridge will cause condensation coalescing to water droplets that will drip and make your pizza less appetizing.
Your fridge temperature will be 40℉ -18℃ or a little lower. Placing a warm pizza with Rocket leaves in the fridge will elevate its temperature while it radiates heat.
Your fridge may not be as efficient as you might have thought at removing heat. Most fridges take hours to come to 40℉ after being switched on after cleaning.
Food sitting at a temperature of 40-140℉ is in the food danger zone. It will spoil your pizza and Rocket leaves, plus the contents of the entire fridge.
Above 40℉-18℃ bacterial growth on perishable foods will accelerate exponentially. It should be discarded if the food remains at an elevated temperature above 40℉-18℃ for just two hours.
According to the USDA, after two hours in the food danger zone, perishable foods contain enough bacteria to cause food poisoning.
It is worth saying, even if it is a long shot!
How long can Rocket leaves sit out?
It will depend on how fresh the leaves are, but they will be ok for a short time while being prepared and then placed in the refrigerator to keep them in good condition.
However, if you are preparing a meal that includes a salad, you may be tempted to place the Rocket leaves on the side and not give them a second thought.
Salad leaves, including Rocket, are considered perishable food, and the USDA recommends that the maximum shelf life sitting out is two hours.
The average temperature of a room in the home is 68℉. The food danger zone is from 40 to 140℉. In between this temperature range, the bacteria on the food multiplies rapidly to a point where the bacteria proliferation is so high the food is deemed unsuitable for consumption.
After two hours, the food should be considered garbage and discarded.
How long do Rocket salad leaves last in the fridge?
The average shelf life is two days, but exercising caution, like storing the Rocket leaves in an airtight container, can extend the shelf life to five days.
However, it will depend on when the Rocket leaves were harvested and they have been prepared and taken care of.
Do Rocket leaves go bad in the freezer?
No, but they will eventually lose their flavor profile, and the texture will change. Storing salad leaves in the freezer may seem ludicrous, but Rocket leaves have a different structure. They are tougher and more resilient than, say, standard lettuce leaves.
However, the freezing method will depend on the number of Rocket leaves you intend to freeze at any time.
If you have a minimum of Rocket leaves, freeze them in a plastic egg carton. Here is how.
Egg carton method of freezing Rocket leaves
- Take a plastic egg carton and clean it thoroughly. Clean the Rocket leaves, removing any water after they have been washed with paper towels or a salad spinner.
- Rough chop the Rocket leaves.
- Place the Rocket leaves in each egg carton shape, and press down slightly to pack the Rocket leaves. Cover the Rocket with a good glug of olive oil.
- Place in the freezer for up to three months.
You could use an ice tray, but the cubes are small. When it comes to defrosting, it is more hassle.
With the egg cartons, the portions are larger and easier to manage. And if you wish, you can throw a few frozen Rocket shapes into a premade salad, let it thaw, and use the olive oil as the dressing.
Freezing fresh Rocket leaves
- Assuming the leaves are clean and dry, go ahead, and roughly chop them. You don’t have to if you prefer whole leaves in your salad.
- Get your Ziploc bags. The gallon bags should be suitable for this job. Place the Rocket leaves in the Ziploc and remove the air from the bag.
- Mark the bags with the freezing date and freeze the Rocket leaves. They will be good in three months. Beyond three months, you are pushing the limits of the leaves, and then they may become mushy and lose their flavor.
Rocket leaves are hardier than you might think despite the short shelf life in the fridge. The longevity of these leaves depends on when they are harvested and hit your kitchen.
To freeze a salad leaf for three months is an incredible feat and can be rarely achieved without destroying the leaves.
As a quick recap, Rocket salad leaves in the fridge can last between 2 days and five days, depending on the storage technique and the freshness of the leaves.
In the freezer, you can freeze Rocket leaves for three months.