In this article we explore the age-old question, can you freeze lettuce? Well, the answer is yes… and no. Not all lettuce is created equal and because of the high water content of lettuce the defrosted version can become slimy.
Eat your vegetables. We’ve all heard that before. And for good reason, vegetables are chock full of important vitamins and minerals. But many of us have also experienced reaching into the refrigerator only to discover slimy vegetables past their prime. One way to prevent that from happening is by utilizing your freezer.
Types of lettuce you can freeze
There are two factors that impact how well a particular lettuce freezes: lettuce type and where the lettuce comes from. Believe it or not, a lettuce named iceberg is not well equipped to handle the arctic temperatures of your freezer. Instead, you should look for a thicker-leafed lettuce such as romaine or Cos types and Boston or bib types, aka Butterheads. You can also look for hybrid versions of these lettuce types that often feature colorful leaves like burgundy and deep green.
Break out the topsoil because lettuce that is grown yourself or purchased from a local farm will freeze best. This is because they have not gone through a storage and shipping process like lettuces found at your local grocer.
How to freeze lettuce to make it last longer
- Separate the leaves and wash well. You’re not going to want to worry about washing again after freezing has occurred, so take this opportunity to clean off any dirt and grime. If leaf bases and stems aren’t your thing, then now is the time to remove those as well.
- Dry, dry, dry, and dry some more. How does that N’Sync song go? If your lettuce ain’t dry, then baby bye, bye, bye? Ok, maybe those aren’t the exact lyrics but that is what you should be thinking during this step. Your leaves will freeze best with as little water on the surface as possible. There are a few ways you can accomplish this. You can gently blot your leaves dry with towels, you can spread out paper towels on the counter and let them dry, or you can do a combination of the two.
- Store in Freezer Bags. Freezer bags work better than regular storage bags because they combat against freezer burn. Place your leaves into freezer bags and be sure to remove as much of the excess air as possible. If you own a vacuum sealing system, now is the time to use it! That tight seal is like a superhero battling the evil Dr. Freezer Burn. Place your protected leaves in the freezer and use within six months for best results.
Can you freeze shredded lettuce?
Yes, you can freeze shredded lettuce. Just follow the steps above for proper storage. It’s important to remember that your thawed lettuce will lose crunch, so don’t plan on using it to add a crisp bite on Taco Tuesday.
Can you freeze bagged lettuce?
Yes, you can freeze pre-packaged bagged lettuce from the grocery store. You will want to remove the lettuce from the original packaging and store in a freezer safe bag. Be sure to remove any excess air in the bag.
Uses for frozen lettuce
If you’re hoping to unfreeze your lettuce and make the salad of your dreams, you will need to think again. Frozen lettuce is not meant to be used as a conduit for croutons and ranch dressing, instead envision a world beyond the salad bowl.
Frozen lettuce makes a great addition to soups, stocks, quiches, and casseroles. Throw it in a pan with a myriad of other vegetables for a great stir fry. If you have a favorite recipe that calls for frozen spinach, use your lettuce instead. Going low carb? You can use whole lettuce leaves as a wrap, just thaw in the refrigerator before using. You can cook them like you would most greens and serve alongside a protein or pasta for an extra burst of nutrition.
Freezing pureed lettuce for smoothies
Smoothies are an excellent way to get a healthy dose of fruits and vegetables. It’s even easier to sneak in some extra greens when you use pureed frozen lettuce. After you have washed and destemmed your lettuce leaves, puree them in a blender or food processor with a little water, pour into ice cube trays and freeze. When it’s time to make a smoothie, just pop a cube or two into the blender and voila, instant nutrition boost!
These frozen lettuce cubes can also be used in soup or as part of the liquid when cooking grains such as rice, quinoa, or couscous.
How to thaw frozen lettuce
Thawing frozen lettuce can take up to an hour so bring some patience and plan in advance. A popular method for defrosting is to lay out some paper towels or kitchen towels on your counter. The towels help to absorb any water leftover from defrosting. Remove the leaves from the freezer bag and lay flat on the towels until thawed.