When to Buy/In Season:
Season: all year

How to Select:
Look for clean, crisp tender leaves, free from decay or dirt. The leaf should snap into two crisp pieces whent bent, and the outer leaves should be as crisp as the inner ones. Check the growing point where the leaves emerge, which should be moist and white.

Lettuce mixes should be crisp and not flabby, with no visible moisture pooling in the container.

  • Crisphead varieties of lettuce, such as iceberg, have solid heads and are heavy for their size. They are also referred to as balled lettuce.
  • Butter head lettuce, including Boston and Bibb, have soft leaves with lighter-color inside leaves. The leaves should be a loose rosette, with a creamy yellow-green center and a soft, buttery texture.
  • Cos or Romaine lettuce have crisp coarse leaves with heavy midribs.
  • Loose leaf lettuce, such as bunching, have soft textured leaves and are available either in long bunches or loose. Leaves grown loosely from a central point, and come in dozens of varieties.
  • Stem lettuce, such as Celtuce, has an enlarged stem with the stem being eaten.
  • Other greens such as beet, turnip, cilantro, chards, dandelions, endives, escarole, kale, collars, leafy broccoli, mustard greens, parsley, rape, sorrel, chicory, rapini, spinach, and watercress, should have fresh tender green leaves and be free from excessive sand or dirt.

Organic Issues:
Lettuce is generally served raw, and it is very important, organic or conventional, to ensure it has been washed and cleaned prior to eating. Tips: Organic lettuces generally have a longer storage life, up to 2 weeks at room temperature.

Pesticide Issues:
EWG 2009 Dirty Dozen, Lettuce ranks #9 for highest levels of pesticide residues

How to Store:
All greens to be served raw should be refrigerated in a crisper or plastic bag. Use crisp head lettuces within 3 – 5 days, use loose leaf lettuce and other greens within 1 – 2 days

Lettuces and greens are sensitive to ethylene, formed naturally from certain other produce, so store away from

Bananas, unripe

Photo Source: Lisa Norwood

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