Lettuce is one of the most common salad vegetables. Its leafy texture provides crisp taste and a variety of colors. Lettuces with darker green leaves tend to be more nutritious than those with pale green or whiter leaves. Lettuce is grown in 4 crop types; butterhead, crisphead (commonly referred to as “iceberg” lettuce), looseleaf, and romaine (or cos).
BEST STORAGE PRACTICES:
Store lettuce in cool, moist areas of the refrigerator, preferably in a bag in the vegetable drawer or crisper. Lettuce should be stored at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, and if kept properly can last between 2 and 3 weeks.
FUN WAYS TO EAT AND COOK:
Lettuce is mostly eaten raw, but can be lightly steamed or grilled. Eat it in a salad, add it to a wrap or sandwich, or fill a piece with veggies and sauce and make it a lettuce wrap!
Choose lettuce that is strong in color with no browning, yellowing, or wilting of leaves. Fresh lettuce should have crisp stems, and dark green to pale green leafy outer layers.
WHY IT’S GOOD TO EAT:
- Nearly 95% water and is a refreshing, hydrating vegetable.
- Heartier, darker lettuce contains dietary fiber. Darker leafed lettuces are also good sources of beta-carotene, vitamin C, and folate (one of the vitamin Bs).
WHEN IT’S IN SEASON:
Lettuce is mainly a spring and fall crop—with freshest quality in late spring and early fall; however it can be grown during the summer months in higher elevations in Western North Carolina.
HOW IT’S HARVESTED:
Lettuce is grown in shallow soil and 70-80 days after seeding, lettuce plants are harvested from their roots. Only the firm lettuces are cut, and thick, outer leaves are kept to protect lettuce head.
Fresh Mixed Greens Salad—Break off a variety of lettuce leaves and wash. Tear leaves up and drizzle salad dressing and serve cold. Top with nuts, berries, other veggies, cold pastas, or proteins.
Lettuce Bowls—tear off 6 large clean lettuce leaves (preferably from a tight round lettuce like bibb or iceberg). Fill with a scoop of tuna, egg, or chicken salad.