Buttery Bibb Lettuce

I mentioned to my mother in a phone conversation that I was enjoying fresh picked bibb lettuce on my hamburger.  She asked what the difference between iceberg lettuce and bibb lettuce and  proceeded to say that she will read about it in my next blog post.  HUH go figure.  Ok mom, this one is for you. :)

See how wonderful that crisp buttery deliciousness makes the hamburger look.  You want to take a bite don't you.  I guess you will just have to take my word on how fabulous it really was.

Get your thinking caps on as here comes the educational tidbits.

Iceberg Lettuce is considered a crisphead variety which is a very common variety in the grocery store.  The leaves tend to be thin, densely packed together and crisp.  Nutritionally, iceberg lettuce carries less value than other leafy type lettuces, sometimes up to half. 

To Store: Moist cool temperatures help preserve the lettuce.  Store in a perforated plastic bag wrapped in a moist paper towel in the crisper.  It will last up to 7 days if stored properly.

Useless fact: Christopher Columbus was said to have brought lettuce to the new world and "Crisphead" is what iceberg was called until the 1920's when transporters began shipping it beneath ice to keep it fresh.

Bibb Lettuce which is classified as a Butterhead is smaller than other lettuce varieties and carries what some would say a smooth, light, buttery flavor.  Hence the butterhead name and great on hamburgers I might add. The leaves are not as tightly packed and are more tender than the crisphead variety.  Bibb lettuce is a delicacy among lettuces and can be expensive to purchase.  All the more reason to grow at home.

To Store: Handle with care as bibb tends to be a little more delicate than other lettuces.  Dip in cool water to rinse and pat dry.  I have used a salad spinner which seemed to work just fine.  Regardless of extra care, it will not last as long in the fridge as the crispheads...up to 3 days if stored in plastic bags. All the more reason to pick and eat right away.  Salads with bibb lettuce should be stored, lightly covered in the refrigerator as it will easily wilt on the counter top.

Useless fact: Bibb lettuce was first grown by Jack Bibb, a Kentucky amateur horticulturist in the lat 1800's.  I guess you can figure how it got its name.

How to grow: I will say repeatedly that I am not an expert and I can only share with you what has worked for me.  Bibb lettuce, likes cooler weather and generally can be started inside, planted and ready for harvest within 60 days. You want to try to harvest before the weather becomes very hot.  

I planted bibb lettuce from seed in my 2009 garden, outside, and as they went to seed, I decided I would try to save some for this year.  Bibb lettuce will grow tall stocks in the warmer weather with the seeds at the top. One plant will produce plenty of seeds for saving.  Now I found that the seeds can be saved in a couple ways.  Which way is correct, I don't know, I just know that all have worked.

  1. Let the seeds drop on the ground or strategically place them in the fall.  This is how I have been able to enjoy bibb lettuce for 2 weeks now.  I strategically placed the seeds in the area that I wanted them to grow and grow they did.  Wind carried some of the seeds to other locations.  Once I move those, I will update with the results.

  2. Allow the seeds to dry on the plant. Place the seeds in a cool dry place so they have a chance to completely dry then store in a marked envelope.  The cool dry dark basement would be a great place to store them for the next year.

  3. Remove tops of the plant and hang in a place that will allow the seeds to dry.  I have seen this done by a gentleman who took news papers and formed them to resemble a sling and hung them from the rafters in his basement to dry.  Store as mentioned above.
Ok Mom, I hope that was informative enough :) Enjoy your bibb lettuce everyone!
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