There are several different varieties of lettuce –
- Cos lettuce – Green, crisp, elongated leaves, tightly wrapped to form an elongated head.
- Iceberg lettuce (pictured above) – Round in shape, with packed layers of crisp green leaves.
- Mignonette- Round in shape, with curled layers of crisp leaves which vary in colour from green to deep red/purple.
- Butterhead- have thinner, softer, floppy leaves with a delicate buttery flavour. Their heads are looser and smaller than the iceberg and can look a little like an open rose.
- Oakleaf- is similar to a rose and our reddish-brown to pale green leaves resemble the shape of oak leaves. The leaves have a soft texture with a sweet, mild flavour.
- Coral lettuce – forms a loose frilly rose shape that can either be all green in colour or more commonly have a light green centre with edges tinged with a reddish-brown. The leaves are very tender and have a delicate, sweet flavour.
- Frisee- have a similar taste to the iceberg but have loose, feathery, pencil this leaves with a crisp, sweet flavour. Frisee has yellow leaves at the bottom becoming bright green towards the top.
- Red Velvet- slightly bitter in taste and have a loosely formed head with soft, elongated leaves that are green at the bottom, turning to reddish-brown on the top.
Lettuce is a member of the sunflower family and is one of the world’s most popular salad vegetables. It is recorded that the Kings of Persia consumed lettuce as early as 550 BC.
Lettuce is grown mainly in parts of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. They are available all year round, although they are at best value from December to March
The darker the lettuce leaf the more nutritious it is. Darker leaves are a good source of Beta Carotene and provide some Vitamin C. Lettuce is approximately 95% water and is a good source of Folate and Potassium. It is a low source of energy providing between 40-80kJ per 100g and only gives approximately 1.4-1.8g of fibre per 100g.
Store lettuce in the crisper section of the refrigerator in a plastic bag or a covered container. Wash just before using.
Check out Melinda Morrison’s recipe for San Choy Bau!
Source: Nutrient Reference Values for Australia & New Zealand 2006; NUTTAB 2010.
PLEASE NOTE: Fruits & vegetables in season may vary depending on where you live. Check with your friendly greengrocer.