It has so far not been a terribly uncommon experience in my life where I go buy a bunch of lettuce with lofty salad goals in mind only to have it rot and whither away, resulting in a tasty lettuce snack for my ducks. Such a shame. This lead me to wondering whether or not lettuce can be saved in your freezer. Can you freeze lettuce? Really, it depends on a few different factors.
Can you freeze lettuce?
In short, you can freeze lettuce that you intend to use for cooking, baking, or flavoring. You should not try to freeze lettuce for salads.
When you freeze leafy greens, ice crystals form inside of the plants themselves. When they form, they rupture the cell wall of the lettuce. Once thawed, the leaves are kind of droopy, mushy, and sad. Give it a try, put a lettuce leaf in your freezer overnight, thaw it in the morning, and see the result. Not pretty!
Not all lettuce is created equally, though. Some types of lettuce freeze better than others.
Picking freezer-friendly lettuce
Any lettuce can be frozen, again provided that you don’t intend to use them as a fresh ingredient, but some lettuce varieties handle freezing better than others. Generally, thicker lettuce varieties are better for freezing. These varieties, like butterheads, do better because their leaves are a bit thicker.
Crisphead lettuce, like the iceberg variety commonly found in grocery stores don’t do very well when frozen, but still can be if necessary.
The best varieties of lettuce for freezing are:
- Bronze mignonette
- Four seasons
- Tom thumb
- Yugoslavian red
The worst varieties of lettuce for freezing are:
- Webbs wonderful
- Hanson improved
How to freeze lettuce
If you’ve got some lettuce and you know you’re going to need to freeze it, there’s definitely a right and a wrong way. There’s a few steps you’ll want to follow for freezing lettuce.
First, remove each individual leaf from its stalk and discard the lettuce stalk into your compost heap or trash.
Then you’re going to need to wash your lettuce, taking care to break apart the leaves from one another and give them a thorough rinsing in the sink. You’re not going to want any dirt or debris to go into the freezer with the lettuce as it will be nearly impossible to wash it off later. Lettuce can get a little mushy once thawed.
Once you’ve washed your lettuce, dry it thoroughly on a dry towel. The more water on the lettuce when you freeze it, the more likely it’ll be severely damaged during the freezing and thawing process. You want your lettuce to go in dry.
Finally, place your lettuce in freezer safe bags. I recommend laying the leaves flat and stacking them as nicely as you can. Zip closed part way, then gently press down on the bag to get as much air out of it as possible. You want as little air left in the bag as you can.
And that’s about all there is to know about freezing lettuce! In short: don’t freeze it if you want to use it as a fresh ingredient, but feel free to freeze lettuce if you’re planning to cook it into a dish.
Keep Reading: 10 Vegetables You Can Grow From Scraps At Home