Can You Freeze Lettuce?

The answer may surprise you.

Can you freeze lettuce? The answer that comes to your mind immediately might be “What? No!”

Visions of pulling soggy lettuce from the refrigerator after too many days may come to mind, only magnified by the freezing process.

The reality is that yes, you can freeze lettuce, but it depends on the type of lettuce and how you intend to use it. “You can certainly freeze lettuce if you would like to later use it for soups or hot dishes,” world master chef Fred Ties tells Southern Living.

Freezing tender lettuces like romaine, green leaf, or red leaf will cause ice crystals to form, which will rupture the cell walls of the leaves. The result is soggy or watery lettuce that lacks crunch and would not be enjoyable to eat, especially in a fresh salad.

Related: 64 Easy Summer Salad Recipes For Hot Days

Freezing heartier lettuces – think lettuce with firm leaves like radicchio – will help retain the nutritive value for later use.

“The best time of year to grow lettuce is in the fall and spring,” Tiess says. “If you are harvesting large amounts of the heartier varieties, freezing and properly storing them can provide nutritious leafy vegetables for year-round use.”

Meet The Expert

Fred Tiess is the master instructor, College of Food Innovation and Technology, Johnson & Wales University, Charlotte Campus

Related: How To Keep Bagged Lettuce Fresh

Is It OK To Freeze Lettuce?

Tiess says that lettuce with firmer leaves like escarole or curly endive, radicchio, as well as long stem lettuces like Belgian endive and Asian celtuce can be frozen, especially “if you want to store it for other seasons of the year.”

How To Freeze Lettuce

Once you have determined the lettuce you have can be frozen, it’s important to take careful steps to ensure it lasts. Here's what Tiess suggests:

  1. Rinse the head of lettuce in cold water to remove all dirt.

  2. Dry the lettuce in a salad spinner.

  3. Place the lettuce on line trays and freeze uncovered overnight. Tiess suggests placing trays of lettuce on the top racks of a freezer.

  4. Store the lettuce in a (freezer safe) sealable bag and continue to freeze until you are ready to use it.

Tiess recommends using the frozen lettuce as soon as possible.

“Freezer temperatures can vary as they will typically have a defrost cycle,” he says. “This variance in temperature can cause lettuce to break down more quickly because of the continuous re-rupturing of the cell walls of the lettuce.”

Related: How To Store Lettuce So It Stays Crisp

How To Use Frozen Lettuce

Tiess says that most people are familiar with frozen spinach and frozen lettuce can be used for similar preparations.

“Sautéed frozen radicchio with olive oil, garlic, and a splash of balsamic is a nice side dish with a roast,” he says. Escarole or curly endive is a traditional ingredient in Italian Wedding Soup and can be substituted for baby kale in some recipes. Celtuce can be used in Chow Mein recipes.”

Related: Should You Rinse Bagged Lettuce?

Frequently Asked Questions

Is lettuce good after being frozen?

Lettuce that has been frozen can be added to soups or hot dishes. It is not recommended to use frozen lettuce for salads.

How long does lettuce last in the fridge?

Lettuce lasts in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

What is the best way to freeze lettuce?

Heartier lettuce can be frozen by freezing pieces on a tray before placing in a freezer-safe container or bag.

Can you freeze iceberg lettuce?

It is not recommended to freeze iceberg lettuce.

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Read the original article on Southern Living.