So, lettuce you say. This is one very healthy leafy green vegetable that I am sure most of you have enjoyed in some form: as a side dish, in some types of salad, in sandwiches, lettuce soups, smoothies, stews, and the list goes on and on.
Whether you buy it in your local grocery store or you perhaps have homegrown lettuce, there can be a situation when you have much more head of lettuce than you need it. And then, a logical question arises “Can you freeze lettuce?”.
The short answer is positive, but it’s not that simple. Neither is it something that complicated, like the question of freezing or defrosting chicken, but you must know some elementary facts about freezing lettuce and extending its shelf life.
And that is exactly why I am here to answer some important questions and to reveal to you some important tips about freezing your favorite green leafy veggie.
So, Can You Freeze Lettuce?
The general answer to the question “Can you freeze lettuce?” is “Yes, you can freeze lettuce!”. But that isn’t enough of an answer – there is a lot more to it.
First, if you want to use your lettuce for cooking and flavoring, then you can definitely freeze it. But, on the other hand, if you want to make your favorite refreshing salad, then it is not a good idea to let your lettuce freeze. It is far better to use fresh lettuce.
The main reason for this is the so-called ice crystals that form during the freezing process, which practically destroy the cell walls in the plant cells of the lettuce leaves and that destroy the crispy texture of lettuce. So why does this happen when it comes to lettuce?
The answer is in the high water content of lettuce. Many other veggies don’t contain that same level of water, so the consequences are not that severe and the texture is not ruined. I also have to emphasize that thicker leaves are more suitable for freezing, so keep that in mind as well.
So, if you want to make a good lettuce salad, I recommend that you keep your lettuce fresh. However, if you have cooking in mind, stay tuned and find out all the answers on freezing lettuce.
Best Solution: Storing Your Lettuce In The Bag
In my opinion, and in the opinion of most chefs and culinary experts, this is the best method for freezing lettuce. And besides that, it is a very easy method with only a few steps that you need to follow.
First, you need to separate the lettuce leaves and wash them very well. After that you must drain them using a salad spinner or colander. Then you’ll have to remove the leaf bases, but that is up to you to decide how you will do it.
The next task in this procedure is to dry the lettuce leaves thoroughly by gently blotting the leaves dry with paper towels. The reason for this action is water. The minimal amount of water on the surface will allow leaves to freeze better.
The last step you need to take is to store your prepared lettuce leaves in freezer bags. It is essential that the bag is air-tight so you must push out all the excess air around the leaves. You can also use an airtight container if you have it.
When you are done with that, you can freely store lettuce (plastic bag or a container) in the freezer. Also, you can follow these steps when freezing chicken salad that contains lettuce.
Alternative Way: Freezing Lettuce In Ice Cube Trays
This method is one that is a little less used when it comes to freezing lettuce. But it is definitely a method worth mentioning when it comes to the question on whether can you freeze lettuce.
It is also a simple method in which you first must puree your lettuce. You can use some kind of food processor, with adding a little water (cold water) in it, in order to do that. Before you put it in your blender, you must remove the stems and wash it properly, of course.
When you have done that, blend it until you get pureed lettuce. You will then take that pureed lettuce from the blender and transfer it into the cube trays or freezer molds. After that, you will place those lettuce cubes in the freezer. And the work is done.
I have to say that this method is not that ideal when it comes to freezing lettuce because you won’t get it in its original form when it comes out of the freezer. But it is certainly suitable in some dishes like, perhaps, lettuce soups.
But How Long Can Lettuce Be Frozen?
Lettuce can be frozen for up to 6 months. The integral part of the question of whether can you freeze lettuce is also the question “How long can it be frozen”?”.
Although it is better to consume it within this time frame, if you don’t have a choice, you now know that this is the maximum amount of time that it can stay in the freezer.
In the freezer, it will form the already mentioned ice formations on the cell walls of the lettuce cells that will ruin its texture and the lettuce leaves won’t be that crispy like we all love them to be.
And the more time the lettuce (or any other food) spends in the freezer, the more the texture will be damaged, according to the USDA. So, it is recommended that you use it as soon as you can.
But aside from the texture, in this time frame, the taste and the health benefits won’t be ruined. And also, you will be able to make some delicious dishes including soups, quiche, stir-fries, and casseroles.
So, as you can see, it isn’t that bad!
Ideal Types Of Lettuce You Can Freeze
The type of lettuce is yet another factor that influences this process. First, supermarket-style iceberg lettuces are more vulnerable than lettuces with thicker leaves when it comes to freezing.
Also, homegrown lettuces are far more suitable than those bought in the supermarket or grocery store because they didn’t go through storage and shipping.
When it comes to lettuce types, there are many varieties of lettuce some of which are more freezer-friendly than others. Those that have higher freeze-ability include so-called romaine lettuces and Boston or bib lettuces and they are also known as Butterheads.
Also, the “Little Gem” lettuces (blend of butterhead and romaine traits) are freezer-friendly. So, as you can see, the type of lettuce that you are going to freeze also plays an important role in the process.
And How To Defrost Your Frozen Lettuce?
The procedure of defrosting frozen lettuce is quite simple. When you get your lettuce out of the freezer, you can put it onto a paper towel before defrosting it at room temperature.
The reason for putting it on the paper towel is so that your countertop doesn’t get wet. The time that is required for your lettuce to thaw is about 60 minutes. After that, you can place your thawed lettuce in the freezer and keep it there for up to 1 week.
Once your loose-leaf lettuce is thawed, you can’t place it in the freezer again because it is not good to refreeze any food, which also applies to lettuce.
Does Freezing Lettuce Ruin It?
No, it can’t be said that freezing lettuce will ruin it. The only harmful thing that freezing lettuce can do to it is that it can slightly distort its texture. After freezing it, the texture will be somewhat mushy and you won’t be able to use it in salads.
However, you will be able to use it in some other delicious dishes like soups, stir-fries, quiches, and casseroles. The reason for this is that freezing won’t do any harm to lettuce’s taste or nutritional value.
How Do You Keep Lettuce Fresh?
The key to keeping your lettuce fresh is proper air circulation and a small amount of moisture. The best way to do this is to put your lettuce in a sturdy glass or plastic container. Both of these must be lined with a few paper towels on which you will put your leafy green veggies.
And when you are done with that, you will top it with a matching lid and put it in the refrigerator. Aside from a container, if you don’t possess one, you can also use a plastic bag, but you must make sure to leave a small portion of it open so that air can circulate.
To Sum It Up
Now that you know the answer to whether you can freeze lettuce, there is nothing to stop you doing the same thing without worrying that you will destroy it. As you can see in this interesting article, there are some changes that can happen to your favorite veggie.
But aside from texture, everything else stays the same, including taste and nutritional value, and that is a big enough reason to freely putt lettuce leaves into the freezer and, when you have to use them, just defrost them and make your delicious lettuce dish.