America's Test Kitchen LogoCook's Country LogoCook's Illustrated Logo
Cooking Tips

A Glass of Water Can Bring Your Vegetables Back from the Dead

Don’t throw away those vegetables you forgot about! They just need a little hydration.

Published Aug. 9, 2022.

There’s nothing more disappointing than opening your fridge to get cooking and then noticing that the vegetables you bought are looking less than ideal.

Brown, wilted, and unappetizing, you may think these vegetables are goners. But before you curse your lack of meal planning and throw them in the compost, wait! You can bring them back to life. And the secret ingredient isn’t that surprising. 

All you need is some water.

Sign up for the Notes from the Test Kitchen newsletter

Our favorite tips and recipes, enjoyed by 2 million+ subscribers!

How to Revive Wilted Leafy Greens

Try it with: lettuce, arugula, spinach

Lettuce looking a little lackluster? Crisp up those leaves by shocking them in an ice-water bath. Here’s how.

  1. Split each head of lettuce in half, and tear up the leaves. By tearing, you’re opening up more places for the water to enter the lettuce. (No need to tear arugula or spinach.)
  2. Place the leaves in a bowl of ice water for 30 minutes for greens that look as good as new.
  3. Spin greens dry using a salad spinner.
700+ Recipes

The best-selling cookbook for anyone looking for fresh, modern ways to add more vegetables to their everyday diet. Covering 70 vegetables, Vegetables Illustrated has you covered for every vegetable and every season.

How to Revive Vegetables with Stalks or Stems 

Try it with: broccoli, asparagus, celery, scallions, parsley

These vegetables admit water the quickest through their cut base. So, to bring these vegetables back to life, use this approach.

  1. Trim their stalks or stems on a bias.
  2. Stand them up in a large cup of cold water, like a bouquet of flowers. After about an hour they’ll be much perkier.

Bonus: How to Keep Your Avocado from Turning Brown

This one is more of a preventative measure, since there's no way to revive a past-its-prime avocado. Refrigerating your avocados cut side down in a bowl of lemon water will keep them green for up to two days.

This may soften the flesh and give the avocado a slightly tart flavor because of the lemon juice. It’s best for use in applications such as guacamole or smashed onto toast where you’re looking for a bit of acidity and the texture isn’t a deal-breaker. (Another option that keeps cut avocado halves green for up to a week? Vacuum-seal it!)

This is a members' feature.