Lettuce Overload!

Lettuce is one of my favorite crops to grow. It does really well for most of the year in our relatively cool climate and there isn’t really much to planting and caring for it. We do what is called high-density planting for our leafy greens. Rather than trying to space them out according to the directions on the packet, I just sprinkle the seeds over the soil and let them do what they’re gonna do! 

High density lettuce

When they start to crowd each other, rather than just picking off the leaves, I pull full heads of baby lettuce, cut off the root ends and wash them. This way nothing goes to waste! 

Baby lettuce ready to eat after thinning.

Eventually, despite thinning, the lettuce always catches up to us and we end up with way more than we could ever eat. Leaving it in the ground too long, under conditions that are too hot, causes the lettuce to bolt and start to flower which makes it very bitter. 

Bolted lettuce is less than delicious.

So before that happens, we get out the baby pool and the food processor and get to preserving this garden goodness! Yup, when we can eat no more lettuce and have exhausted every salad option we can think of, I pulverize this stuff and turn it into lettuce ice cubes. And don’t tell my kids, but I sneak these bad boys into everything… They are great for smoothies (which is probably the most obvious option), but I’ve been known to melt a few into ground meat when making tacos, they get dropped into all kinds of soups and sauces, and I have even melted them for a few seconds in the microwave and added them into brownie batter and chocolate cake and none are the wiser! Gotta love a nutrition sneak attack am I right?!

Lettuce Ice How To:

I start off by getting my supplies ready. I scrub out our baby pool with some mild dish soap and water and then pull all the lettuce up from the roots, one head at a time, cutting off the root end with some kitchen scissors. I shake the dirt back off into the lettuce bed and toss the root ends and any nasty looking leaves into a bucket: destination compost pile or chicken run. The lettuce leaves then go into the pool of clean water for a rinse and hit the salad spinner a little at a time to dry them off a bit.

Then it’s off the the kitchen! I like to use my Cuisinart food processor to buzz the lettuce up. I fill it up to the top with loose handfuls of lettuce and then pour in about 1/2 cup of water a little at a time while it’s processing. When the lettuce is chopped up into barely recognizable pieces and is a gross greenish brown color, its done! 

One full standard sized Cuisinart bowl of lettuce yields about 4 cups of liquid to make the lettuce ice. Spoon the lettuce mixture into ice cube trays and freeze until solid. Once frozen, the cubes can be popped out and stored in freezer bags for later use. FYI, one tray holds about 2 cups of liquid lettuce. 

When you’re ready to use them, just grab a few at a time and add them to your own concoctions!

Can you see the lettuce? They can’t either so don’t you dare tell them! 😉

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