A Guide to Growing and Cooking with Butter Lettuce

When the global pandemic started, many were looking for ways to relieve stress as they stayed indoors and avoided non-essential travel. Many homeowners who were looking to pass the time turned to gardening. According to a report from EatingWell, more people are starting vegetable gardens due to the pandemic.

If you’re wondering what else to plant in your home garden besides flowers, consider planting veggies and starting a vegetable garden. This can save you money, as you won’t need to pay for veggies in the supermarket or grocery store.

One of the veggies you can plant in your garden is butter lettuce.

What is Butter Lettuce?

Photo by emilee rader via Flickr Creative Commons

Butter lettuce is a variety of butterhead lettuce. Butterhead includes lettuce, such as Bibb, Victoria, Tom Thumb and Santoro. This particular lettuce originated from the Mediterranean, though two of its well-known varieties were cultivated in the United States.

The heads of butter lettuce will typically have thick, loose and tender leaves, be uniformly green and be somewhat big. Despite the name, this lettuce doesn’t taste like butter. Instead, it has a slightly sweet and mild flavor. The flavor profile of butter lettuce makes this vegetable ideal in wraps, salads and sandwiches.

Health Benefits of Butter Lettuce

Butter lettuce is rich in nutrients. A cup of cut butter lettuce contains 91 micrograms of vitamin A per serving. Vitamin A has antioxidant properties that help protect your body from damage from free radicals, as well as environmental toxins. Also, this vitamin is necessary to produce and maintain healthy bones, teeth, mucus membranes, soft tissues and healthy skin.

Butter lettuce is also great if you’re trying to lose weight. A single cup serving of cut-up butter lettuce has only 21 calories. It also has less than half a gram of fat, 1.53 grams of sugars and 3.63 grams of carbohydrate.

If you’re looking for a low-calorie, low-fat and nutrient-rich vegetable, this type of lettuce may be the one you need.

How to Grow Butter Lettuce

Let’s first establish the growing conditions of butter lettuce. This lettuce likes cool weather. This means that it grows best in the moderate temperatures of autumn and spring.

If you live in an area with mild summers, you could grow butter lettuce in late or early summertime. Be warned, though. If the temperatures are too hot, then the lettuce will bolt to seed or wilt.

Butter lettuce grows best in cool, loose and well-drained soils. The pH level of the soil should be somewhere between 6.2 and 6.8. If you’re looking to enhance the flavor of this particular lettuce, make sure that the soil has a lot of organic matter in it.

Planting Butter Lettuce

You can plant this lettuce indoors or directly into the soil outside your house. If you’re planning to grow butter lettuce inside your home, make sure you sow the seeds into cells an inch deep about three to four weeks before you transplant the seedlings outdoors. When you’re going to transplant, remember to space the lettuce 6 to 10 inches apart.

When planting butter lettuce directly outdoors, start when you’re able to work the soil in the early spring. Make sure to plant the seeds shallowly, approximately an eighth of an inch deep in the soil. Space the seeds an inch apart.

Butter Lettuce Plant Care

Before the butter lettuce seeds sprout, remember to keep the soil moist. Lightly water them every day to maintain moisture. You can promote quick growth and enhance the flavor of the butter lettuce by watering the seeds a little bit every day or every other day.

Butter lettuce, unfortunately, is susceptible to many different pests. These include whiteflies, vegetable weevils, slugs, snails, nematodes, grasshoppers, flea beetles, armyworms and aphids. You can stop these critters from wreaking havoc by performing appropriate pest control strategies, such as making homemade natural pesticides and introducing natural predators (that won’t harm your butter lettuce or other plants) and removing the pests by hand.

Harvesting Butter Lettuce

This plant takes about 60 to 70 days to mature. If the butter lettuce forms seed stalks, harvest the plant immediately. Try to do this during cool mornings to prevent wilting.

Cooking with Butter Lettuce

Make a healthy salad using butter lettuce as your main ingredient. Source: Pinterest

You could whip up a healthy salad using butter lettuce. Making a butter lettuce salad is easy. Just mix butter lettuce with other ingredients, such as olives, chives, apple cider vinegar and panko.

If you’re looking to use this lettuce for dishes other than salads, take note of these butter lettuce recipes:

Grilled Butter Lettuce with Buttermilk-Chive Dressing

This involves cooking the butter lettuce in a charcoal or gas grill for two to three minutes. Then, mix the cooked lettuce with a dressing consisting of salt, pepper, lemon juice, chives, mayo, crème fraîche and buttermilk.

BLT Sandwich

Just follow any recipe for a BLT sandwich. You just need to use butter lettuce as one of your main ingredients.

Pickled Vegetable Lettuce Cups

If you’re looking to introduce more green into your diet, consider making this handy recipe. Using a large bowl, combine half a cup of water, a tablespoon of kosher salt, white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, radishes, beet, shallot and fennel. Then, drain. Add this mix on top of a butter lettuce leaf.

Next, make a dressing using lemon juice, yogurt and buttermilk in a small bowl. Season the dressing with pepper and salt. Finally, spoon some dressing on top of the leaf.

Butter lettuce is a great veggie that you can grow in your garden and use in making simple, everyday salads. You can enjoy the vegetable’s mild flavor and sweet leaves without ruining your diet.


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