How to Store Arugula

Arugula, a peppery leafy green vegetable, is a flavorful addition to salads, sandwiches, and a variety of dishes.

Its delicate leaves are packed with nutrients, but they also have a tendency to wilt and lose their vibrant taste if not stored properly.

To enjoy arugula’s bold flavor all year-round, it’s essential to master the storage techniques that will preserve its freshness for as long as possible.

Arugula in a sealed plastic bag, placed in the crisper drawer of a refrigerator

When you bring fresh arugula home, the first step is to ensure it’s dry since excess moisture can lead to a faster decline in quality.

After patting the leaves dry, opt for a storage method that limits exposure to air and maintains appropriate moisture levels without leaving the leaves too damp.

Storing arugula correctly will not only extend its shelf life but also retain its nutritional benefits.

For best results, consider refrigerating arugula with a balance of humidity and air circulation that prevents wilting.

Utilizing materials such as paper towels for moisture control and sealed containers or bags can make a significant difference.

By following these practices, you prolong the life of your arugula, ensuring it remains a crispy and flavorful complement to your meals whenever you choose to use it.

Understanding Arugula

A refrigerator shelf with a sealed plastic bag of fresh arugula next to a bowl of ice water

Before diving into the practical tips for storing arugula, it’s essential to understand what this leafy green is, its nutritional benefits, and its versatility in cooking.

Arugula stands out for its unique flavor and nutrient profile, making it a popular choice for various culinary applications.

Characteristics of Arugula

Arugula is a leafy green with a distinctive peppery flavor, setting it apart from other salad ingredients.

It’s characterized by its small, lobed leaves and a slightly crunchy texture. The intensity of its peppery taste can vary based on the age of the leaves, with younger leaves generally being milder.

Nutritional Value of Arugula

Arugula is a powerhouse of nutrients, encompassing a range of vitamins and minerals.

Packed with vitamins A, C, and K, as well as folate and antioxidants, adding arugula to your meals is a surefire way to boost your nutrient intake.

Here’s a brief rundown of the nutrients you can find in arugula:

Vitamin ASupports vision and immunity
Vitamin CPromotes skin health
Vitamin KEssential for blood clotting
FolateImportant for cell function
AntioxidantsProtects cells from damage

Culinary Uses

Thanks to its peppery taste, arugula is not just a green to fill the bowl in salads; it’s an ingredient that adds character to many dishes.

You can incorporate arugula into salads, blend it into pesto, use it as a topping on pizzas, or add it to sandwiches for an extra kick of flavor.

Its versatility also makes it excellent as a garnish, providing both taste and decorative flair to a wide array of recipes.

Preparatory Steps Before Storing

Arugula being washed, dried, and stored in airtight container with paper towel to absorb moisture

Properly preparing arugula before storage is paramount to maintain freshness and reduce the risk of bacteria. This involves selecting quality leaves and ensuring they are clean and dry.

Selecting Fresh Arugula

When you’re choosing arugula for storage, the leaves should be vibrant green and crisp. Avoid leaves that are yellowing, slimy, or have a wilted appearance as these are signs of decay.

Harvesting arugula in the cool part of the day can help retain its freshness longer if you’re picking it from your garden.

Washing and Drying Arugula

After selection, wash the arugula under cold water to remove any dirt or potential bacteria.

Then, drying the arugula thoroughly is critical as excess moisture can accelerate spoilage.

You can use a salad spinner to remove water or lay the arugula out on a clean kitchen towel, patting it gently with another towel to absorb moisture.

Ensure the washed arugula is completely dry before proceeding to store it.

Storing Arugula in the Refrigerator

To maintain the freshness of arugula and prevent wilting, proper storage in your refrigerator is key.

Utilizing plastic bags with paper towels, leveraging the vegetable crisper drawer, and controlling moisture content are all crucial steps to extend the leafy green’s shelf life.

Using Plastic Bags and Paper Towels

Store your arugula in a plastic bag lined with paper towels to absorb excess moisture, which can cause premature spoilage. Follow these steps:

  • Wash the arugula thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels.
  • Line a plastic bag with a layer of dry paper towels.
  • Place the arugula inside, gently spread out to avoid crushing.
  • Expel as much air as possible before sealing the bag.
  • Replace the paper towels if they become damp to maintain moisture balance.

Proper Storage in Crisper Drawer

Your fridge’s crisper drawer is ideal for arugula storage due to its ability to retain a consistent humidity level. Ensure you:

  1. Set the crisper drawer to a cool temperature, ideally between 35°F and 40°F.
  2. Use a storage container if preferred, lined with paper towels, placed in the crisper.
  3. Minimize opening the drawer frequently to maintain the temperature and humidity.

Monitoring Moisture Content

Keeping the right moisture content is critical. Too much moisture encourages decay, while too little can result in bitter, wilted leaves. To manage moisture:

  • Avoid washing arugula before storage unless necessary, as it adds unwanted moisture.
  • Check the arugula every few days, removing any damaged leaves to prevent spread.
  • Consider using a hygrometer in the crisper drawer to monitor the humidity levels.

Long-Term Storage Solutions

Fresh arugula in a sealed container inside a refrigerator drawer, with a damp paper towel to maintain moisture

When considering long-term storage for arugula to maximize its shelf life, freezing presents a viable method. This approach promotes longevity and freshness for extended periods, reducing the risk of spoilage.

Freezing Arugula

To freeze arugula, begin by thoroughly washing the leaves and drying them with a paper towel.

Dry arugula freezes much better, as excess moisture can lead to freezer burn.

Lay the leaves flat on a baking sheet and place them in the freezer until they are fully frozen.

This method of freezing prevents the leaves from clumping together, allowing you to use only the amount you need later.

Blanching Before Freezing

Blanching arugula prior to freezing can help preserve its vibrant color and maintain its nutritional value.

Immerse the leaves in boiling water for a short period—typically 2 to 3 minutes—then immediately transfer them to a bowl of ice water to halt the cooking process.

Dry the leaves well before freezing, as blanching does introduce additional moisture.

Freezer Bag and Container Tips

For optimal storage in the freezer:

  • Use freezer bags or airtight containers to prevent exposure to air.
  • Remove as much excess air as possible before sealing to ward off freezer burn.
  • Label bags or containers with the date of freezing to keep track of longevity.

Preventing Spoilage and Prolonging Shelf Life

To maintain your arugula’s freshness and extend its shelf life, it is crucial to store it properly and understand the factors that contribute to spoilage.

Optimal Storage Conditions

Store your arugula in the refrigerator to keep it fresh.

Ensure it’s dry before storage, as moisture can accelerate decay.

For the best results, place arugula in a plastic bag or storage container with a dry paper towel to absorb any excess moisture. This setup reduces the risk of mold growth and browning.

Use your crisper drawer for storage if possible, since it offers higher humidity levels which are optimal for leafy greens.

  • Temperature: Keep your fridge below 40°F (4°C).
  • Humidity: Aim for high humidity in the crisper drawer.
  • Air Circulation: Ensure the container is loosely sealed to promote air flow.

Managing Ethylene Exposure

Arugula, like many vegetables, is sensitive to ethylene gas, which can hasten wilting and decay.

Be mindful of storing arugula away from fruits and vegetables that emit high levels of ethylene, such as apples, bananas, and tomatoes.

  • Ethylene Producers: Avoid storing arugula near these items.
  • Ventilation: Ensure your produce has adequate ventilation in the fridge to disperse ethylene gas.

Rotation and Usage Practices

Regular rotation of your stored arugula is key in preventing spoilage. Keep newer batches below the older ones to ensure you use the oldest first.

Plan your meals to use arugula within 4-5 days after purchase to enjoy its best quality and reduce the risk of wilt and sliminess.

  • First In, First Out: Use older batches of arugula before newer ones.
  • Consumption Window: Aim to consume within a few days for optimal freshness.

Creative Uses for Arugula nearing End of Freshness

A bunch of arugula wilting in a refrigerator, next to a container of water. A sealed plastic bag with a few holes poked in it to allow for air circulation

When your arugula is not at the peak of its freshness, you can still utilize it effectively by incorporating it into cooked dishes, transforming it into a flavorful pesto, or using it to create aromatic infused oils.

These methods help in preserving the nutritional value of arugula, such as its calcium content and keeping your dishes vibrant and nutritious outside of its prime spring and fall seasons.

Arugula in Cooked Dishes

You can extend the life of wilting arugula by incorporating it into cooked dishes. Its peppery taste can enhance a plethora of recipes:

  • Pasta & Risottos: Stir it into pasta sauces or risottos in the last few minutes of cooking for a peppery bite.
  • Soups & Stews: Add wilted arugula to soups and stews, allowing it to simmer briefly; it will contribute not only flavor but also a nutritional boost.

Making Arugula Pesto

Arugula pesto offers a zesty variant to the traditional basil-based recipe. The process is simple and only requires a few steps:

  1. Preparation: Blend arugula with garlic, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese.
  2. Oil: Gradually add extra virgin olive oil until a smooth consistency is achieved.

The resulting pesto can be a versatile addition to your dishes or frozen for later use.

Arugula Infused Oils

Infuse olive oil with arugula to capture its essence in a more subtle form. This is especially useful for arugula with diminished texture but remaining flavor:

  • Preparation: Blanch arugula and blend it with warm extra virgin olive oil.
  • Storage: Strain the mixture and store the infused oil in airtight containers for dressings or cooking.

Health and Safety Considerations

Arugula stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator, away from raw meats and other potential contaminants

When storing arugula, it’s important to consider the risk of bacteria and foodborne illnesses, as well as the aspects that contribute to its freshness.

Proper storage not only helps maintain arugula’s nutritional value but also ensures your safety.

Bacteria and Foodborne Illnesses

When storing arugula, you need to be vigilant about bacteria which can lead to foodborne illnesses. Pathogens like E. coli and Salmonella can thrive on leafy greens, especially if they’re not handled or stored properly.

  • Prevent Contamination: Always wash your hands before handling arugula and use clean utensils and containers for storage.
  • Refrigerate Promptly: Store arugula at temperatures below 40°F (4°C) to inhibit bacterial growth.
  • Avoid Cross-Contamination: Store arugula separate from raw meats and seafood, using sealed containers to prevent any potential spread of bacteria.

Understanding Food Freshness

Freshness affects both the taste and nutritional value of arugula. To ascertain and maintain the freshness of arugula during storage, consider the following:

  • Moisture Control: Keep arugula dry to prevent wilting and the growth of mold or bacteria. You can pat arugula dry with a paper towel before storing.
  • Packaging: Use airtight containers lined with paper towels to absorb any excess moisture.
  • Monitor Shelf Life: Arugula generally lasts for three to seven days in the refrigerator, but it’s best to use arugula when it’s most fresh to enjoy optimal flavor and nutritional benefits.

Summary and Best Practices

When you’re looking to store arugula effectively, maintaining its freshness is your primary goal. Proper storage extends the shelf-life of this peppery leafy green.

First, let’s focus on refrigerator storage:

  • Dry thoroughly: Pat arugula leaves dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture.
  • Use airtight containers: Line an airtight container with a paper towel, add your arugula, then cover it with another paper towel to absorb moisture.
  • Plastic bags: Alternatively, a plastic bag with a paper towel inside can serve the same purpose. Ensure it’s sealed tightly.

Regarding freezing arugula:

  • Olive oil method: Coat the leaves lightly in olive oil, lay them out to freeze, and once solid, transfer to freezer bags. This method is ideal for long-term storage and usage in cooked dishes.

Remember these key details:

Storage MethodKey Note
RefrigeratorContainer or bag should be airtight
FreezingOlive oil helps retain flavor

Maintain a neutral environment, as temperature fluctuations or exposure to air can rapidly diminish the arugula’s quality.

Always ensure the arugula is dry before storage to prevent wilting and spoilage due to excess moisture.

Top Tips for Arugula Storage

When you bring arugula home, the goal is to maintain its freshness and extend its shelf life while preventing decay. Here’s how to do it effectively:

In the Refrigerator:

  • Use a Plastic Bag: Seal your arugula inside a plastic bag after placing a dry paper towel inside. The paper towel absorbs excess moisture, which can accelerate spoilage. Step Action 1 Line plastic bag with paper towel 2 Place arugula in, gently 3 Seal the bag
  • Air Circulation: Ensure there is some air circulation within the bag before sealing it to help the greens breathe.


  • Airtight Container: For longer storage, you can freeze arugula. However, be cautious; freezing may affect its texture, making it suitable only for cooked dishes.
  • Olive Oil Preservation: Coating arugula leaves lightly in olive oil before freezing can help retain flavor, but this method is not ideal for salads upon thawing.
Airtight ContainerFreeze arugula in small batches
Olive OilLightly coat and freeze, then break into pieces for storage

General Guidelines:

  • Check Regularly: Inspect the arugula every few days and remove any leaves that are starting to yellow or show signs of decay.
  • Ideal Temperature: Keep your refrigerator within the range of 32-40°F (0-4°C) for optimal storage conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions

A refrigerator shelf with a bag of fresh arugula, airtight container, and a label "Arugula - Store in the refrigerator."

How should you store arugula to prolong its freshness?
To maintain freshness, store arugula in a plastic bag or airtight container in your refrigerator. Ensure any excess air is pressed out before sealing.

What is the shelf life of arugula?
Arugula typically lasts 3-5 days when stored properly in the refrigerator.

Can you freeze arugula?
Freezing is not recommended as it will lead to a loss of texture and flavor.

Plastic Bag StoragePlace arugula in a bag with a dry paper towel to absorb extra moisture. Seal tightly.
Container StorageLay arugula between damp paper towels in a container to regulate moisture.

Should arugula be washed before storage?
Yes, wash arugula under cold water and dry thoroughly to remove any soil or grit. However, avoid storing it wet to prevent spoilage.

Can you store arugula with other fruits and vegetables?
Store arugula away from items that produce strong odors or ethylene gas, as it could hasten spoilage.

What can you do with excess arugula?
You can make arugula pesto and store it in the refrigerator or freezer for longer-term use.


A clean, organized refrigerator with a labeled container of arugula placed in the crisper drawer, away from any ethylene-producing fruits or vegetables

For optimal longevity and freshness of arugula, proper storage techniques are essential.

To store arugula in the refrigerator:

  • Wash the leaves thoroughly to remove dirt and debris.
  • Pat the leaves dry with a paper towel to reduce moisture.
  • Line a storage container with a dry paper towel and place the arugula inside.
  • Add another paper towel on top before sealing the container to absorb excess moisture.
  • Store the container in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator for 3 to 7 days.

When considering freezing:

  • Dry the arugula before placing it in a shallow container.
  • Submerge the leaves in olive oil to retain flavor.
  • Once frozen, break into smaller pieces and transfer to freezer bags for extended storage.

Arugula is a delicate leafy green that benefits significantly from proper storage methods.

By following these steps, you can ensure that your arugula remains as fresh and flavorful as possible for your next meal.

Frequently Asked Questions

Arugula stored in a sealed plastic bag inside a refrigerator crisper drawer

Proper storage can significantly extend the freshness and flavor of arugula. These targeted FAQs help you navigate common storage challenges.

What is the best way to keep arugula fresh in the refrigerator?

To maintain freshness, place arugula in a plastic bag with a dry paper towel to absorb excess moisture. Seal the bag and store it in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.

Can arugula last longer when stored in the freezer, and how should it be prepared?

Arugula can be frozen to extend its shelf life. First, wash and dry the leaves, then lay them flat on a baking sheet to freeze before transferring to a freezer-safe bag or container.

What are effective methods for storing arugula with roots still attached?

For arugula with roots, wrap the roots in a damp paper towel and place them in a container. Store the container in the crisper drawer to maintain humidity and freshness.

Are there special considerations when storing baby arugula to maintain freshness?

Baby arugula is delicate; store it in an airtight container with paper towels at the bottom and top to absorb moisture and protect the tender leaves.

What is the maximum duration arugula can be safely left unrefrigerated?

Arugula should not be left unrefrigerated for more than 2 hours to ensure it remains fresh and safe for consumption.

Why might arugula deteriorate quickly and how can this be prevented?

Arugula deteriorates quickly due to excess moisture and ethylene exposure from certain fruits and vegetables.

To prevent this, store it away from such produce and in a moisture-controlled environment.

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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
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