Most of Ontario grown field lettuce types include:
- Head (or Iceberg) - Ithaca, Montello, Green Lake and Salad Crisp.
- Boston - Buttercrunch, Summer Bibb, Dark Green Boston and Citation.
- Leaf - Black-seeded Simpson, Grand Rapids Forcing and Red Fire.
- Romaine - Paris Island Cos, Green Towers and Tall Guzmaine.
A limited amount of lettuce is produced in greenhouses year round. Ostinata and Carlos are two varieties specific for greenhouses.
Lettuce is low in calories, and a source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C and folacin.
As a general rule of thumb, darker green lettuce varieties contain the most Vitamin A.
Lettuce was eaten by the ancient kings of Persia (that makes it about 2,500 years old).
The Romans seemed to have been the first to use lettuce in salads. The main variety they enjoyed we still know today as Romaine.
The 17th century horticulturist, John Evelyn, introduced the vegetable to England, but it was not until the present century that lettuce became popular in North America.
Buying and storing
Look for firm, crisp lettuce with a clear colour. Avoid those that are brown or have soft spots.
Refrigerate, without washing, in its packaging or well wrapped in paper.
Iceberg or head lettuce is the most widely used in salads because of its semi-sharp flavour and crunchiness. Leaf lettuce with its more delicate leaves and subtle flavour is excellent on both salads and sandwiches. Romaine is best known as the preferred lettuce for Caesar and Greek salads.
You can buy pre-mixed bags of salad lettuce in some stores. Or you can make your own. Rinse and drain well, tear into salad-size pieces, mix, bag and refrigerate.