Keeping lettuce fresh is a struggle that we are all deeply familiar with. One minute you have a fresh head of lettuce in the fridge, and then the next, you’re faced with wilted leaves and one too many brown spots. Luckily, there is one easy way to extend the lifespan of your lettuce, and that is by putting it in the freezer!
But wait, can you freeze lettuce? Aren’t we supposed to store them in the fridge only?
The good news is that yes, you can freeze lettuce. However, the delicate nature of lettuce leaves makes them a bit difficult to freeze.
With that in mind, we will teach you how to freeze lettuce properly and tell you how long you can keep lettuce in the freezer. No more wasting lettuce!
Let’s get right to it.
Can Lettuce Be Frozen?
Yes, you can freeze lettuce, but not if you want to make a salad with it. Freezing creates ice crystals in plant cells, which will rupture the cell walls and make your lettuce limp upon thawing.
So, unless you want to eat limp and slimy greens, we don’t recommend freezing lettuce for tossed salads.
But if you want to have lettuce always ready to use for stir-fries, soups, and casseroles, stocking up on frozen lettuce is a good idea. By freezing lettuce, you can extend its lifespan to up to 6 months.
However, not all types of lettuce freeze well. Based on our experience, the best types of lettuce to freeze are:
- Locally-grown lettuce. Lettuces grown locally have not experienced the storage and shipping processes like supermarket lettuces. Thus, they can hold up better in the freezer.
- Thicker-leafed lettuce. Lettuces types like romaine and butterhead are thicker than regular iceberg types, making them better at handling the physical changes of freezing.
Now that you know what kind of freezer-friendly lettuce to use, let’s talk about how to freeze lettuce properly:
How To Freeze Lettuce?
There are three ways you can freeze lettuce: with the leaves intact, chopped up, or blended up. Let’s go over each technique one by one:
Freezing Lettuce Leaves
Freezing lettuce with the whole leaves intact is a great idea if you want to use them for lettuce wraps or if you prefer bigger pieces of lettuce in your soup. Here’s how to do it:
- Remove the lettuce leaves from the base and separate them. Wash them thoroughly in cold water to remove dirt.
- Pat the leaves dry with a paper towel.
- Arrange the lettuce leaves in a freezer bag. Remove as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn. If you have a vacuum sealer, use it.
- Label the bag and place it in the freezer. Make sure not to put anything on top of the lettuce so that the leaves don’t get squashed.
Freezing Chopped Up Lettuce
We recommend chopping your lettuce before freezing for more convenience. However, chopping up lettuce will make it lose some of its moisture, so it’s better to use frozen chopped lettuce sooner rather than later.
- Wash your lettuce and remove the leaves from the base. Pat the leaves dry with a paper towel.
- Chop up the lettuce however you want.
- Transfer the chopped-up lettuce to an airtight container or freezer bag.
- Label the bag and stick it in the freezer. Again, make sure that your lettuce does not get squashed by other items in the freezer.
Freezing Blended Lettuce
If you always want to have lettuce puree on hand for soups and stocks, we highly suggest blending it before freezing. Here’s how:
- Wash your lettuce and pat it dry.
- Chop it up into small pieces for easier blending, then transfer it to your blender or food processor.
- Add a little water to allow the lettuce to blend easier. Blend until you reach your desired consistency.
- Pour your lettuce puree into ice cube trays.
- Cover the trays with lids. If your ice cube trays don’t come with lids, use a cling wrap instead. This will prevent your lettuce from absorbing foreign odors in the freezer.
- Label the top of the container with today’s date before putting it in the freezer.
There you have it! Three easy ways to freeze lettuce. Now, what about thawing lettuce?
Can You Freeze Iceberg Lettuce?
Yes, it is possible to freeze iceberg lettuce, but we advise against it. Iceberg lettuce is thin, which makes it unable to hold up in the freezer for very long.
As a result, iceberg lettuce will be overly limp and soggy after it thaws. For freezing lettuce, we recommend thicker varieties.
Can You Freeze Bagged Lettuce?
Yes, you can freeze pre-packaged lettuce from the grocery store. However, pre-packaged lettuce often comes with high moisture content, so we recommend taking it out of the bag and drying it first.
How To Thaw Frozen Lettuce?
Lettuce tends to thaw quickly because of its thin leaves. You can easily defrost frozen lettuce by putting it in the refrigerator a few hours before use.
If you are in a hurry, you can also thaw lettuce by running it under cold water, but while it’s still inside the bag, of course.
For blended lettuce cubes, you can put them directly into the pot and wait for them to melt. Or if you’re making smoothies, you can use frozen lettuce cubes as a substitute for ice.
Lettuce can become soggy and limp after freezing and thawing. Freezing also damages the cell walls of lettuce, causing water to leach out and the leaves to turn brown.
Yes, freezing lettuce does keep it fresh. The downside is that the lettuce can get a little freezer burn, but if you’re careful to wrap it well and eat it soon after taking it out of the freezer, you shouldn’t have any problems. Freezing lettuce also helps to preserve its nutritional value.
No, freezing does not kill bacteria on any food. It only makes them dormant until the food is thawed. (*)
This is why washing your lettuce thoroughly before freezing is so important. We also recommend cooking your lettuce to kill any lingering bacteria.
So, can you freeze lettuce? The answer is yes–as long as you don’t plan to use it for tossed salads.
But for any other dish, frozen lettuce is great to use. Thick and locally-grown lettuces hold up surprisingly well in the freezer, especially if you follow the freezing methods we’ve mentioned above.
If you want to learn more about freezing techniques and other kitchen tips, be sure to visit our blog after this!