I was kind of amused the first time I saw a lettuce knife. Really? A knife just for lettuce? It seemed like it should’ve been part of a highly specialized set of flatware with spaghetti forks and cereal spoons. And plastic to boot? Aw naw, I wasn’t having that.
But as usual, my skepticism was checked shortly thereafter when my mom saw me chopping lettuce for a salad that we weren’t serving until a few hours later. “Noo!” she protested as I was mid-chop, hovering the knife and shooting her a confused look. “The metal makes it wilt,” she said and told me to tear it by hand instead.
I never knew about this metal-on-lettuce wilting effect, but it stuck with me. A few months later came up again at Thanksgiving with my dad when I spotted a pair of salad shears in his kitchen. I never quite figured out why they’d make an implement specifically for salad out of stainless, considering.
Salad shears also come in plastic for this reason, as do specialty lettuce knives like the one pictured. They make handling big batches of lettuce go much faster than tearing by hand, although the plastic sometimes struggles to cut through tough ribs and stems.
While it could be handy, I wouldn’t encourage you to go get one stat. You can definitely get by without one, whether avoiding wilt by hand or saying what the heck and just cutting it up with what you’ve got. Unless you’re preparing ahead of time, it’ll still be plenty green and crisp by the time you eat. And if you’re cooking your lettuce, well then you need not worry about it at all.
If you’re preparing big vats of salad to last you for the week, you might find it a worthy investment—you can grab one for just a few bucks. Mine was featured on an end cap at my local grocery store.