Make Lettuce Last Longer: How To Freeze Lettuce

Lettuce is a leaf vegetable that is often enjoyed in salads, sandwiches, and wraps, etc.

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Upon noticing a bargain during a visit to the local food shop, many of us tend to stock up on lettuce only to find that we have a lot of it leftover and not many uses for it.

Because of this, likely, you are now questioning whether lettuce can be frozen to make it last longer. 

The answer is yes, you can freeze lettuce. Lettuce with thicker leaves tends to freeze better but this isn't to say that you can't freeze thinner lettuce too.

Due to the delicacy of lettuce leaves, it can be rather difficult to freeze. Frozen lettuce can be a difficult leafy green. I have found that iceberg lettuce freezes better than romaine lettuce. Frozen lettuce leaves do work great for lettuce soup. Kale freezes better than lettuce.

If possible, lettuce should be consumed when it is fresh as this is when it is the tastiest. However, if this isn't the case and you currently have an abundance of unused lettuce, you may use one of the following methods to freeze it.

Can you freeze lettuce? Freeze lettuce in a bag

The first and possibly easiest way of freezing lettuce is to freeze it chopped up inside a bag. First, you will need to prepare the lettuce by removing it from the bag that it comes in.

Once you have done so, you can then chop off the stalk and separate the leaves before rinsing them and dabbing them dry.

You may wish to dispose of any leaves that appear gone off. Following this, you can then place the chopped lettuce inside a freezer bag before putting it into the freezer.

To release any excess air inside the bag you should press it lightly. You should also avoid overfilling the bag with too many leaves as this can crush them and affect their quality.

Store the lettuce in cube trays

This next method involves a little more preparation than the first and will require the use of a blender or a food processor.

To prepare the lettuce you will first need to remove the stalk and any gone off leaves before washing the rest to get rid of any possible bacteria. 

Once you have washed the leaves you can then place them inside a blender and add some water.

When these steps have been completed, you can turn on the blender or food processor until the lettuce inside appears like a puree. 

Now that the leaves are pureed, they can be poured into the cube trays. Preferably these trays should have lids as this will help to avoid any accidental spillages when the trays are put in and taken out of the freezer.

Once the puree has settled into the cubes you can place the trays into the freezer. When these cubes have frozen you can either keep them inside the tray or you can remove them and put them into freezer bags.

Although this method requires a little more effort on your behalf, it is easy and ideal for those who want to use the pureed lettuce inside smoothies or soups, etc. 

How long can lettuce be frozen?

You can freeze lettuce for up to six months although it is recommended to consume it within this time to enjoy the best taste.

You may find that when defrosted lettuce no longer has the same taste so you may want to avoid using it in salads.

This is due to the formation of ice cells which cause the cell walls of the lettuce to rupture. 

Freezing different types of lettuce

You are likely wondering what the freezing recommendations are for different types of lettuce.

Homegrown lettuce tends to be the best for freezing, however, those bought from shops or markets can be frozen too.

Shredded lettuce can be frozen and it is also rather convenient to freeze because it is already chopped which saves you the task of having to do this yourself.

You should try to dry the lettuce before freezing it and once you have done so it should be put inside a freezer bag, not kept in the original packaging.  

Lettuce that is pre-bagged from the store can also be frozen although you will likely want to chop it into smaller chunks beforehand as this will make the process easier.

Once the pieces have been chopped into smaller chunks, they can be put in a freezer bag for freezing. 

Factors to consider when freezing lettuce

Homegrown lettuce and lettuce from local food markets tend to freeze better than shop-bought lettuce.

You should be very careful when handling the lettuce as the leaves are fragile and likely to tear. 

You should wash the lettuce before freezing it. Even bagged lettuce has been handled by many people and it can also contain harmful bacteria.

Washing the lettuce will also help to remove any dirt although you may want to dispose of any gone off leaves before freezing them. 

The lettuce should be removed from the original packaging that it comes in and placed inside a freezer bag instead. Doing so will retain the freshness of the lettuce leaves.

When putting the leaves inside the freezer bag you should avoid overfilling them as this can affect the quality of the leaves by causing them to get crushed in the process. 

How to defrost lettuce

At some point, you will of course need to defrost the lettuce so that it can be used. The process is pretty straightforward.

You will simply need to remove the tray or bag of lettuce from the freezer and take it out of the packaging.

Then you will need to lay the leaves onto paper towels before allowing them to defrost at room temperature. 

The towel will collect the water that dissipates from the leaves as they defrost and as such this will prevent your kitchen countertops from getting wet.

You should allow the lettuce leaves roughly one hour to defrost. You will likely be able to tell if they are thoroughly defrosted by touching them. 

Other ways of storing lettuce

Lettuce is typically stored in the fridge and the time that it lasts and remains fresh for consumption can differ depending on the type of lettuce.

While loose-leaf lettuce has a shorter shelf life typically lasting for around a week, head lettuce can last for up to 3 weeks when stored in the fridge.

If you are likely to use the lettuce within this time, you will likely find it more convenient to store it this way rather than freezing it.

Should you decide to do so, you will need to wrap the lettuce inside a damp paper towel and then place this inside a bag or an airtight container.

If you are storing individual leaves rather than a lettuce head you should wash and dry them before placing them in the fridge inside a bag or container.

Final Thoughts

Although lettuce can be frozen, it is much tastier when consumed from fresh.

For those who tend to buy foods on offer in bulk, freezing does provide a viable option but it is important to remember that because lettuce that has frozen will differ in taste from fresh lettuce.

Because of this, you should avoid using it inside salads. Fresh lettuce that has been frozen in cubs is a tasty addition to soups and smoothies. 

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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
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