There are hundreds of lettuce varieties grown throughout the world and, because they peak at different times of year, there's always a plenitude of this universal salad favorite.
There are four general lettuce classifications, most of which comprise many varieties.
The Four General Lettuces'
This are shown in the order noted above.
Lettuce Food Facts
When shopping for any kind of lettuce a general rule of thumb is to choose those that are crisp and free of blemishes. As with all greens, lettuce should be washed and either drained completely or blotted with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture.
"Lettuce should always be torn, never cut or the edges will turn brown faster." This is an old wives tale, but it is not known who started it and is not certain to be true. What we do know is using your fingers to tear lettuce into bite-size pieces will prevent browning because a knife can cause the edges to turn brown.
Never allow lettuce to soak, as the water tends to soften some leaves. Refrigerate washed and dried greens airtight in a plastic bag for 3 to 5 days, depending on the variety.
Always make sure lettuce leaves are absolutely dry before tossing them with dressing. It won't cling to moist leaves.
All lettuce is low calorie and most of it is rich in calcium, iron and vitamins A and C. Keep in mind that the darker green leaves contain the most nutrients. Lettuce, a key ingredient in most diets, contains few calories but provides calcium, iron and vitamin A.
Reviving wilted lettuce is easy. Just give it a quick dip in hot water, then a rinse in ice water that has a little salt or sugar added. Shake, then refrigerate for an hour.
Never add salt to a lettuce salad until you are ready to serve it. The salt tends to wilt and toughen the lettuce.
To prolong the life of harvested lettuce heads, wrap the heads in sheets of paper towels and seal in a gallon size Ziploc bag. Store in the refrigerator.
Lettuce will not rust as quickly if you line the bottom of the refrigerator's vegetable compartment with paper towels or napkins. The paper absorbs the excess moisture.
To dry lettuce leaves after rinsing, set a hair dryer on cool and blow dry the wet leaves.
To stop the lettuce from getting rusty, for a longer period of time hit the bottom of the lettuce hard against the counter and remove the core.
If you have to dry a lot of lettuce - say, for a party - put the washed leaves in a clean pillowcase, tie it shut, pop it in a clothes dryer, and set on Air Fluff.
Americans eat approximately 11 pounds of lettuce per year, per person.
Use extra lettuce leaves as a hot vegetable. Braised, sauteed, or stir-fried, they make a surprisingly good side dish.
The greener leaves on the outside of lettuce contain more nutrients than the inner leaves. Try to save as much as possible.
To toss a lettuce salad quickly and neatly, place all the ingredients in a gallon size Ziploc bag. Add salad dressing and seal the bag. Shake the bag until the salad is tossed and coated with dressing.
Over 60 chemical agents can be applied to lettuce. Most can be removed by washing, but tests show that some cannot be removed by washing. The EPA can only detect 60 percent of these chemicals. However, the worst one is Permethrin, which can be reduced or removed totally by washing.
In German, the word for lettuce is Kopfsalat, which literally means "head salad.
Did you know?
The giant African snail, a land snail the size of a baseball, has eighty thousand rasping teeth and can devour an entire head of lettuce in one feeding.
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