Freezing lettuce is a common practice. However, it does come with its own baggage.
Lettuce has become an integral part of our diet. At times, we end up buying more than we need. And when the lettuce is being sold at half-price, who would avert their eyes from a 50% off tag? Thus, we wound up purchasing lettuce in bulk and then wonder what to do with the rest.
Freezing is an ideal option. It prevents the development of bacteria and enzymes and preserves the vegetable for a long time. But can you freeze fresh lettuce? Is it even safe to freeze the lettuce? Read on to have all your queries circling freezing lettuce cleared!
Can you freeze fresh lettuce? While freezing fresh lettuce is done in many households, scientifically, it should be avoided. The reason lies in how the chill of the freezer affects the biology of the lettuce. When the lettuce succumbs to low temperatures of the freezer, ice crystal begins to form on the plant’s cells and continues to expand as the vegetable continues to get frozen. This expansion of ice can damage the cell wall beyond repair. This would collapse the cell wall of the plant and expose its cell organelles. This slow process turns the fresh and fluffy lettuce into a bunch of wet pulp.
While the water expansion does not happen in the case of peas or corn because of the little water content in it, lettuce is a different story altogether. Lettuce has exponentially high moisture content. On top of that, it also has already weak cell walls.
Freezing it would deteriorate the stand of the cell walls, and all you will end up with is ugly pulp. In such a predicament, you’re left with no option other than to bin the lettuce. Therefore, freezing lettuce is not easy. But the good news is, it is very much possible. There are plenty of things to do before you place the lettuce in your freezer, though.
- How to Freeze Lettuce?
- How to thaw lettuce?
- Frequently Asked Questions
How to Freeze Lettuce?
Lettuce can be frozen if you know the methodology of doing it. Although, the procedure of freezing the lettuce varies from type to type. There is no general rule of thumb that applies to freezing all the lettuces. Not only the type but the origin of the lettuce also has many roles to play in the freezing capabilities of the lettuce. The types of lettuces that can be frozen and the types that cannot be frozen are discussed in the coming sections.
The origin factor also contributes to the whole freezing thing. The lettuces that you grow at your own home or your farm are much more suitable for freezing. This is because you would have harvested the crop right after it was fully-grown. This lettuce is very much likely to have been processed immediately and sent straight into the walls of your kitchen.
But if it’s store-bought lettuce we’re speaking of, then the process of its entry into your kitchen is entirely different. Store-bought lettuce goes through the process of storage, warehousing, and transportation. It then spends much of its time sitting on the shelf of the store before you come and pick it up.
This entire journey of the store-bought lettuce ends up having an impact on the construction of the lettuce and even deteriorates it. Hence, putting store-bought lettuce in the freezer would require some foreplay. There’s much that needs to be done, and you simply cannot go wrong with the method; otherwise, you’d end up doing more harm to the lettuce than good.
You could freeze fresh lettuce in the following manner;
Step 1: Divide the bunch of lettuce and wash each leaf with precision. Ensure the dirt of the day has been removed entirely from the lettuce with a stream of fresh water. Clip out the bases of the leaves and wash them again.
Step 2: Dry the lettuce thoroughly. You need to remove all the water from its surface to increase the probability of optimum freezing. We do not want a collaborative effort of internal and external water content to turn the lettuce into pulp. Thus, use dry towels or whatever you generally use to dry your vegetables. You could also keep it under the sun for surety.
Step 3: Divide the lettuce bunch into several groups and place each group into separate sealable freezer bags. Once you place the lettuce inside, get all the oxygen inside the bag out, or as much as you can. For this, cup the bag inside your hands and squeeze it. Don’t squeeze too hard that you end up damaging the lettuce.
Just enough that you know that the air is out. Neatly seal each bag and place it all inside the freezer. Ensure that even after you place the lettuce in the freezer, there’s plenty of room left for other stuff you might want to keep there.
Once you’ve placed the lettuce in the freezer, use it within six months. You might even narrow this period down to 3, not knowing the age of the lettuce. Just don’t let it rot inside the freezer indefinitely because that is exactly what will happen if you’re negligent enough.
There is also an alternative way to freeze the lettuce, which will involve your ice trays.
Step 1: Empty your ice trays of all the cubes.
Step 2: Puree the lettuce by running it once in the mixer. Keep taking a spoonful of the puree and place it inside each block in the ice tray.
Step 3: Add some water in each block after the puree has been added. Place the tray inside the freezer and wait for them to get frozen.
Step 4: Once the cubes have been made solid, take all the lettuce cubes out and place them all inside the freezer bags. Put the bags inside the freezer and bring them out once you’re ready to make use of liquidized lettuce.
You can use the liquidized lettuce in preparing various things! Freezing the lettuce using this method will take a toll on its taste or texture.
Although, the use might become limited, as you won’t be able to use it as a salad condiment. But you can still use it as an addition in preparing countless dishes, including stews, curries, and soups. Moreover, using the puree method, you could also freeze other vegetables.
How to thaw lettuce?
Thawing your greens is as easy as it can get. All you have to do is pull out the fresh lettuce from your freezer and remove its packaging. Leave the unpacked lettuce in room temperature for about 7-8 hours.. Ensure that some plate or towels are kept underneath the lettuce before defrosting it. This way, the water would not seep into the kitchen top.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the different types of lettuces?
Lettuces come in different varieties. From varying levels of nutrients to the water content, to the texture of the lettuce to its taste, to the greenery of the vegetable, each type has varying nature of everything. Naturally, each lettuce type would react differently to being frozen. Thus, the question arises can each type of lettuce be frozen? Let’s unravel!
Can you freeze romaine lettuce?
Romaine lettuce has thicker leaves than most other lettuces, bar butterhead lettuce. This makes freezing the romaine lettuce comparatively simpler. However, don’t expect that the frozen and thawed lettuce would taste or feel the same as before.
No, the frozen lettuce would undergo some natural changes, which would reflect immensely on its texture. You won’t be able to use the same lettuce in all your dishes. You could notably use the frozen lettuce to make smoothies, stews, curries, and soups, but not in salads or dishes that require freshly cut leaves of lettuce.
You can freeze the romaine lettuce in the same way that you did fresh lettuce, either by storing them in freezer bags or making a puree out of it and placing it in ice trays.
Can you freeze iceberg lettuce?
Freezing iceberg lettuce is not the wisest decision you’d make. These lettuces are highly prone to turning into mush inside the freeze of the moment. This will take a toll on the flavor and the feel of the lettuce. This also would make the iceberg lettuce incapable of being added to a salad or other crucial dishes.
However, you could indeed freeze the iceberg lettuce nonetheless, though the use of it will be exponentially limited. Your best bet of utilizing it would be in smoothies, juices, and other liquids.
You can freeze the iceberg lettuce by placing the leaves in the freezer bags. Ensure to vacuum out the air as much as possible. The more the air inside, the more damage it will do to your lettuce, and quickly.
Can you freeze shredded lettuce?
Freezing the shredded lettuce is perhaps the easiest thing that can be done. Since it has already been shredded into a simpler and perfect form, all the ruckus of clipping its ends and making an effort into washing it thoroughly is eliminated. It can be fitted inside the freezer bags seamlessly. Your work is practically reduced in half. All you have to do is dry the lettuce shreds nicely. Be it using a salad spinner or using towels, dry the lettuces down to the last piece and put it inside the freezer bags. If need be, you could also make the puree of it. But that won’t be necessary, as freezer bags would do the trick.
Can you freeze bagged lettuce?
Bagged lettuce is a handy addition to the salad. You could bring it straight from the store and have it stored in your refrigerator right away. It’s perfectly feasible. But first, you might have to dry the bagged lettuce. These lettuces can often have high moisture on the top layer. And as we have implied plenty of times, water is the biggest enemy of your greens. Thus, ensure that all the leaves of your bagged lettuce in dried out before you store it in an air-tight container. Place it inside the freezer once it has been packed and sealed.
Can you freeze dry lettuce?
Freezing the lettuce dry is the only way forward. Water is an enemy of lettuce. Before you place it in the freezer, your aim is to eliminate the moisture from the surface of the leaves as much as possible. If the lettuce you want to freeze is already dry, voila! There’s nothing more for you to do than simply placing the lettuce in an air-tight container or inside freezer bags and putting it inside the freezer.
Can you freeze lettuce for salads?
No. You simply cannot freeze lettuce and make a salad out of it. Salad lettuce needs to be fresh, green, leafy, and free of any ice crystals. On the other hand, frozen lettuce paves the way for a layer of frozen crystal. Even if you thaw the lettuce, it will still remain soggy and would appear mushy. That ugly thing should be kept miles away from the dressing of your salad. It would give a bad look to the overall appearance of the salad. Frozen lettuces can be used for other purposes, though, but not for the salad.
Can you freeze lettuce for smoothies?
Absolutely yes! Smoothies are a perfect outcome of frozen lettuce. If you have plenty of frozen lettuce at your disposal, you could make smoothies out of every one of the leaves. The best part is, frozen lettuce for smoothies could last as long as 6 months, more than lettuce for any other purpose. However, ensure that the period does not extend any further. The storage protocol for this lettuce remains the same as other lettuce types. Store it either in freezer bags or in the form of puree, your choice.
Once you buy your greens in bulk, storing them for long durations can be tricky. While the fridge can come in handy for a few days, if it’s months we’re speaking of, the fridge is no good. You need ultra-low levels of temperature. Enter the freezer. As long as you follow the prescribed protocol for freezing the lettuce, this vegetable will be preserved for a long time. Though the use of it would become limited, it could still be used in countless dishes. This article included everything you need to know about freezing your lettuce and a tad bit more!