Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

How to Get the Most out of Salad Days

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

How to Get the Most out of Salad Days

Article excerpt

Lettuce has a very long history, stretching back over 6,000 years to the time of the Sumerians, the first known civilisation who lived in what we know as southern Iraq.

It was also enjoyed by ancient Greeks and Romans, who used it for medicinal as well as culinary purposes. It is believed that the Romans introduced it to Britain.

A major breakthrough in the lettuce world was in 1970 with the first supplies of the Iceberg Lettuce, being imported from the USA, where it had been developed. Although having extremely little flavour it stays fresh longer than any other type of lettuce on the market.

Little Gem is another salad leaf that has a long shelf life. However, I feel that it also lacks flavour.

What do you look for when choosing a leaf or lettuce for a salad?

I choose lettuce for its flavour, crunchiness and bite. Some of the leaves on the market make good salads, but there are now too many designer leaves grown, and sold for their looks. My favourites are:-

* Cos Lettuce

* Butterhead ( Round Lettuce)

* Crispheart Lettuce

* Mache

In recent years there have been more and more specialist salad leaves coming into the market place. The most popular are

* Wild Roquette

* Radicchio

* Lollo Rosso

* Oak Leaf

* Red Chard

* Frisee

* Lollo Biondo

* Lambs Leaf

I feel that most of these should only be used for decorative purposes as they tend to be rather bland.

The best way to eat these leaves is mixed together with a strong salad dressing. Wild Roquette has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its very strong peppery flavours and is certainly my favourite amongst these leaves.

How long should I keep lettuces?

There is only one rule - All lettuces and salad leaves should be eaten as fresh as possible. Lettuce should be eaten the same day. Shelf life in the fridge is a maximum of two days.

Can I freeze Lettuce?

Due to the high water content in lettuce it doesn't freeze well.

How should I prepare salad leaves?

Remove stalks and break the lettuce down by hand, never cut with a knife as it tends to discolour the leaves. …

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