You know how a lot of articles always tell you that once lettuce stalks it’s no good? That’s just not true. It might be true most of the time, but it’s not true all of the time.
The writers of those articles are lettuce growers who haven’t had to find a way to either make it last — or not eat lettuce. I have been in that position often, so I’ve tried about everything when it comes to lettuce.
For years I bought those bags of organic lettuce at the Food Lion after my lettuce in the garden stalked. A couple of years ago I had a little question and answer session with myself. I asked myself why I was eating this green stuff that had no taste to it and probably no nutrition? After that I decided not to buy it anymore and put my money towards something a bit more nutritious.
Bottom line for me: lettuce out of the garden — or no lettuce at all.
Anyway — back to the stalking lettuce:
It’s almost the end of July and most of my lettuce is stalking. It can still be eatable. The secret at this point in time is knowing which leaves to pick and when.
When to Pick
After lettuce has stalked and it’s middle-of-the-summer hot, the morning after a rain is prime time for what I call investigative harvesting. Since you can’t judge from how it looked the day before, going out to see what you can find is the only way you’ll know.
I’ve found the leaves of lettuce look totally different after a rain.
Now here’s rest of the secret:
Which Leaves to Pick
For green lettuces pick only leaves that have that same bright green as in the spring. If they are dull or blue/green don’t pick them. They won’t be any good.
Strangely, these could be leaves near the bottom of a foot high (or higher) stalk! Many times they’ll be at the top of the stalk. Other times they won’t.
For red lettuce – look for the same color it had in the spring. If the leaves are too dull or faded they’re probably not good.
One point worth noting: I wouldn’t pop it into my mouth at this stage.
After Leaving the Garden
- It’s a good idea to leave your lettuce immersed in water, cover the bowl and put it in the refrigerator for 8 to 12 hours. Usually, I’d say an hour — but this late in the season and this hot — go for at least 8 hours. (Use water that is pure and not loaded with chemicals.)
- Then remove from the frig, gently wash, and “fling” dry.
- Place lettuce in plastic bag and refrigerate for another 24 hours if necessary.
Realistically, it will taste stronger than new spring lettuce, but I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how good it is.
My Stalked Lettuces’ Track Record
My husband is the one with the ultra sensitive tastebuds. If he detects even a small amount of bitterness he won’t eat it. After I toss the lettuce with a little olive oil and vinegar he thinks it’s delicious 9 times out of 10.
The more you do this, the better you’ll get at knowing just by looking if the leaf is good or not. Believe me, if you’re a lettuce lover like me, those fresh salads into July are worth the time and effort.
Other Posts on Lettuce:
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