Lettuce is a leafy vegetable that is mainly used for salads and soups. It can be challenging to store lettuce for extended periods as it turns rotten faster than many other vegetables. But did you know that if you have it in bulk and want to keep it for later use, you can freeze it?
You can freeze lettuce like any other vegetable, as long as you seal it in vacuum freezer bags after washing and drying thoroughly. Or, you can freeze lettuce puree in ice cubes and use it afterward in soups and smoothies. Frozen lettuce is best to use within six months.
This article will show you how to freeze lettuce and use it later on. I will discuss two ways to freeze it to extend its shelf life, some brilliant ways to use frozen lettuce in dishes, and how long it will last in the freezer.
Which Lettuce Is Best To Freeze?
You can freeze lettuce like any other vegetable. However, thicker lettuce varieties preserve better in freezing conditions than thinner ones.
Butterhead, Romaine, Bostan, Bib, and Escarole are the best lettuce to freeze due to their thicker leaves. Lettuce loses its crispness after freezing, and thicker leaves will tend to hold some shape once frozen. In regards to freezing, the freshness of the lettuce also makes a big difference.
On the other hand, you should avoid varieties like Iceberg and Little Gem lettuce as they can not hold up to the rigors of freezing. Also, any lettuce that is already on the edge of going bad should be avoided for freezing purposes.
Ideally, you’ll want to use homegrown or local market lettuce because it is fresh and crisp. Before reaching the supermarket, the vegetables are preserved for a few days, lessening the crispiness and freshness of lettuce you buy at the supermarket.
How To Freeze Lettuce in Freezer Bags (1st Way)
Although it is best to use any food item as fresh as possible, we sometimes need to store them for various reasons. Some vegetables and fruits are seasonal, and some are easy to purchase in bulk, so freezing them is a great way to extend their shelf life.
Follow these six simple steps to freeze your leftover lettuce in freezer bags:
- Separate the leaves.
- Wash leaves thoroughly.
- Dry with a towel.
- Cut in desired shape and size.
- Put the leaves in a freezer bag.
- Put the bag in the freezer.
Let’s discuss these steps more in detail.
1. Separate the Lettuce Leaves
Lettuce is hollow on the inside, with a lot of space in between the leaves. Separating lettuce leaves is crucial before freezing. Otherwise, you won’t be able to create a vacuum in the freezer bag.
Lettuce grows like a giant flower. All the leaves/petals of lettuce are attached at the bottom, so you can separate the leaves in one go by cutting the base. Take a sharp knife and cut the off-white portion at the bottom.
Cutting off the base is the easiest way as all of the leaves will separate immediately.
Another excellent way to separate the leaves is to pluck them out from the base one by one, as both methods are easy and satisfying. After grinding or chopping, you can use the thick base portion in soups.
2. Wash The Lettuce Leaves Thoroughly
Washing the leaves is another crucial step before freezing lettuce. You’ll want to clean it beforehand so that you don’t freeze insects and dirt stuck on the leaves. Moreover, frozen leaves will get tighter and will not wash off easily.
Cleaning it beforehand will also save time later when you are ready to cook.
3. Dry The Lettuce Leaves With A Towel
After rinsing off the lettuce leaves thoroughly, you should dry them out with a towel as much as possible. Preventing water droplets on the surface will help preserve the lettuce better.
So, you’ll want to dry it really well on the outside to avoid any ice crystal formation of water drops on the leaf surface.
4. Cut The Lettuce in Desired Shape and Size
Lettuce leaves can be quite large, and it might be possible that your freezer bag can not accommodate them without folding. I would advise you to avoid folding leaves for two reasons. One, it will create space between layers and be harder to vacuum seal, and two, when fresh lettuce is folded, it tends to crack easily.
Cut the leaves in square or rectangular shapes and stack them above the other. It might be easier to store the whole stack together before creating a vacuum in the freezer bag.
5. Put the Leaves in a Freezer Bag
After making the same-shaped and sized leaves cluster, put them in a ziplock freezer bag. Don’t forget to create a vacuum in the freezer bag. You can create a vacuum in the bag with the help of a vacuum sealer (Amazon).
However, if you don’t have a vacuum sealer, I have two tricks to help you suck out the excess air from the bag.
Use a straw:
- Place the bundle of leaves inside the freezer bag.
- Seal the bag leaving a little space at the end.
- Put a straw in the bag where you left the space.
- Suck out the air with your mouth.
- Take the straw out and immediately close the bag.
Create vacuum with water pressure:
- Keep the bundle of leaves inside the bag.
- Take a big bowl or tub filled with water.
- Dip the freezer bag into the water leaving the open end above the water surface. The water pressure will push the air out of the bag.
- Seal the bag.
- Dry the bag from outside with the help of a towel.
These are both pretty easy ways to vacuum seal things stored in ziplock bags without the need for a sealing machine.
6. Put the Bag of Lettuce in the Freezer
The last step is to place the bag of lettuce in the freezer. If you are placing multiple loads in the freezer, keep in mind that you shouldn’t stack them one above the other or place anything else on top of them.
Pressure due to the weight can damage lettuce leaves.
You can store your leftover lettuce in the freezer with this simple procedure. However, don’t forget to take your stored lettuce out of the freezer and put it in the refrigerator a day or two before cooking with it in order for it to slowly thaw.
How To Freeze Lettuce in Ice Cube Form
Another simple way to freeze lettuce is as ice cubes in ice trays. This type of frozen lettuce is ideal for use in soups, sauces, smoothies, or any dish you would like to add lettuce puree too.
Follow these six simple steps to make lettuce ice cubes:
- Separate the leaves from the whole lettuce.
- Clean them with water.
- Put the leaves in the food processor.
- Make the lettuce puree.
- Fill the ice tray with lettuce puree.
- Place the tray in the freezer.
While grinding the lettuce, you don’t need to throw away the thick base portion, as you can cut it into small pieces and put them in the food processor. This way, you will save a lot of time later when you cook the soup or make smoothies.
Just add a few lettuce ice cubes to the dish, and you are done.
After the lettuce puree is frozen, you can take the cubes out from the trays and store them in a glass jar. Keep the jar in the freezer and just pluck out the number of lettuce cubes you need.
The Shelf Life of Frozen Lettuce
The shelf life of frozen vegetables highly depends on the freezing process. If the vegetables or fruits are frozen in ideal conditions, you should use them within ten months. On the safer side, I advise you to use your frozen lettuce within six months, including your leaves in freezing bags and your lettuce ice cubes.
To ensure the long shelf life of frozen lettuce or any other vegetable, you should keep them at stable temperature conditions.
Moreover, if your frozen lettuce shows any signs of going bad, you should avoid eating it. Some indications can be color changes, excess ice crystal formation on the surface, or a bad smell. If you notice anything odd, stay on the safer side and avoid using it.
Ways To Use Frozen Lettuce
Although frozen lettuce can not replace fresh lettuce (like in a salad), you can use frozen lettuce in many different ways where you wouldn’t even know it was once frozen.
Here are some ways to use frozen lettuce:
- Add frozen lettuce leaves to a salad.
- Make healthy lettuce rolls.
- Use lettuce leaves as wraps.
- Add lettuce ice cubes in smoothies.
- Saute or stir fry lettuce.
- Cook lettuce cubes or cut leaves in sauces.
- Make lettuce soup.
- Prepare instant lettuce juice.
Add Frozen Lettuce in Salads
The most famous and healthy way to add lettuce to the diet is to add it in salads. You can add lettuce leaves to any salad recipe. Before using frozen lettuce leaves in salad, dip the leaves in cool water for a few minutes, as this will turn the hardened leaves into soft and fresh-looking lettuce.
Make Healthy Lettuce Rolls
Lettuce leaves are big and foldable, which makes them perfect for roll recipes. You can use frozen leaves in rolls after soaking them in water for ten minutes. I found the lettuce roll sandwich recipe very yummy and exciting. You may also want to try it out.
Use Lettuce Leaves As Wraps
There are many creative ways to use frozen lettuce leaves as wraps. You would want to try out Asian lettuce wraps.
Here is an Asian lettuce wrap recipe video by Marlon Doll on Youtube:
Add Lettuce Ice Cubes in Smoothies
The frozen lettuce puree cubes are ideal to be used in smoothies, as they are already prepared and pre-portioned. You need to add two to four cubes of frozen lettuce with other ingredients in the mixer. You can also put lettuce ice cubes in the smoothies as garnishing.
Saute or Stir Fry Lettuce
Sauteing is another brilliant way to use your frozen lettuce. Sautes are medium-fried or half-cooked vegetables that are a healthy breakfast option. You can use your frozen lettuce leaves in saute or stir-fried dishes, either alone or in combination with other veggies.
It is a healthy, simple, and time-saving dish for morning rush hours.
Cook Them in Sauces
It’s fine to use fresh, frozen lettuce leaves or puree ice cubes to cook in sauces. If you wish to add leaves, you can grill them first to make a paste. If you use ice cubes, you need to let them melt in the pan.
You should keep in mind that ice cubes already contain some amount of water. Add water after they are melted, or there can be excess water, and your sauce will not get desired consistency.
Make Lettuce Soup
Making soup is one of the most famous ways to cook lettuce. Making soup and sauces is somewhat similar. However, you don’t need to worry much about the consistency here. Lettuce is a low-carb vegetable, and you can have hot soup before bedtime.
It is a healthy and soothing option for after-dinner cravings, and hot soups can improve sleep.
Prepare Instant Lettuce Juice
You can make lettuce juice in no time. If you plan to have lettuce juice in the morning and feel that it is too hectic to purchase lettuce every other day, frozen lettuce can save you both time and hard work. Place your lettuce cubes or frozen leaves in your juicer and let it do the work.
You can freeze lettuce in two ways, in freezer bags and ice trays. You’ll need to use thicker, fresh, and crispy lettuce for the freezer bag technique. Frozen lettuce is best to use before eight to ten months. If the frozen lettuce changes the color, taste, and other physical properties significantly, you should avoid eating it.