Have you ever thought about freezing lettuce? Fresh lettuce straight from the garden in all kinds of varieties makes satisfyingly delicious light meals or side dishes to make courses. Many people wish they could freeze the varieties available to them such as romaine, ice burg, loose leaf, butter head and summer crisp, but unfortunately, you cannot. Lettuce is best fresh from the garden, rinsed down with cool water, dried in a salad-tossing device and served up fresh with other vegetables and dressings.
You should never freeze lettuce because it contains high water content. When lettuce freezes the structure of it changes because the water molecules change inside it too causing it to crystallize and become frostbite during the freezing process. Then, when you go to defrost the lettuce it is all wilted, watery and mushy making it no good to make leafy green toss salads.
Is there an optional reason why lettuce is okay to freeze?
With all the above just mention, some people still freeze lettuce to use in lettuce soups. However, they simply take the frozen lettuce from the freezer without defrosting it and put it directly into a puree machine until it is a pureed mixture. After, they pour it into a pot and make their lettuce soup. Trying to defrost frozen lettuce increases the risks of bacterial growth and spoilage, which can then later cause food poising.
Image used under Creative Commons from Jeremy Bronson
The best and only way to freeze lettuce to use in soups later on is by place the lettuce of choice into freezer bags and placing it into the freezer, which it should only be kept frozen for up to 3 weeks and no longer than that. The lettuce you freeze must come from a garden and froze the same day, and not from the produce section of the grocery store. You do not know how long the lettuce from the produce section in your grocery store has been on the shelf or when the harvesting date was. Doing so may cause food poisoning when you go to use it since bacteria would have had a chance to develop on it while sitting on the grocery store shelves touched by everyone who was looking for the right head of lettuce. However, it is not to freeze ice burg lettuce since it has the highest water content out of all the lettuces.
Knowing all this about lettuce, freezing should not be an option for preserving fresh bountiful amounts of lettuce you pick from the garden. Instead, you should preserve lettuce by cutting it as close the base and roots as possible and store the lettuce in a shallow bowl of water in your refrigerator to keep it well hydrated and crisp, or in a vegetable crisper wrapped up in paper towel to prevent extra moisture from getting to it. Those of you that decide to use the shallow bowl of water to keep your lettuce hydrated in the refrigerator can only do this with romaine heads and butter heads. Loose leaf lettuce is best preserved in a zip lock bag with a sheet of paper towel in it to prevent moisture from getting to it and placed in the vegetable crisper to keep fresh. Lettuce is capable of staying fresh in the refrigerator for up to a week.