Monday, June 17, 2013
Lettuce Types and How to Buy Them
Among the Nation's leading vegetable, lettuce owes its prominence to the growing popularity of salads in our diet. It's available throughout the year, at various seasons, from California, Arizona, New York, New Jersey, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Wisconsin and other States. Four types of lettuce are generally sold: iceburg, butter-head, Romaine and leaf.
Iceburg lettuce is the major group. Heads are large, round, and solid, with medium-green outer leaves and lighter green or pale-green inner leaves.
Butter-head lettuce, including the Big Boston and Bib vrieties, has a smaller head than Iceburg. This type will be slightly flat on top and have soft, succulent, light-green leaves in a rosette pattern in the center.
Romaine lettuce plants are tall and cylindrical with crisp, dark-green leaves in a loosely folded head.
Leaf lettuce includes many varieties - none with a compact head. Leaves are broad, tender, succulent, fairly smooth and vary in color according to variety. It is grown mainly n greenhouses or on truck frms and sold locally.
When buying look for signs of freshness in lettuce. For Iceburg and Romaine, the leaves sould be crisp. Other lettuce types will have a softer texture, but leaves should not be wilted. Look for a good, bright color - in most varieties, medium to light green.
Avoid heads of Iceburg type which are very hard and which lack green color (signs of overmaturity). Such heads sometimes develop discoloration in the center of the leaves (the 'mid-ribs'), and may have less attractive flavor. Also avoid heads with irregular shapes and hard bumps on top, which indicates the presence of overgrown central stems.
Check the lettuce for tipburn, a tan or brown area (dead tissue) around the margins of the leaves. Look for tipburn on the edges of the head leaves. Slight discoloration of the outer or wrapper leaves will usually not hurt the quality of the lettuce, but serious discoloration or soft decay definitely should be avoided.