Lettuce is not something you would normally can or freeze, as this water-heavy vegetable does not stand up well to such methods.
Fermenting it, however, is a good way to preserve that bumper lettuce crop coming into the garden. Lettuce has a very high water content, so it is a good candidate for dry-salt fermentation.
You can add any flavorings you want – minced garlic to fresh herbs to spices – but the pure lettuce-salt combination makes a bright lettuce ferment that is a great addition to those summer salads of peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers.
- Lettuce (as many heads or leaves as need preserving)
- Sea salt
- Water, as needed
- Wash lettuce and remove any brown or questionable leaves. Depending on the type of lettuce, you have a few preparation options. For a crunchier lettuce like a romaine or a sturdy leaf or iceberg lettuce, you could shred it as you would cabbage for sauerkraut. For a softer-leafed lettuce, you can cut into pieces as wide and long as the diameter of your fermentation vessel.
- Because lettuce wilts down, releases a lot of moisture, and reduces in volume as it ferments, an open-crock (or large bowl) method works well. Once it has fermented for a few days it can be transferred to jars.
- Put a layer of the lettuce in a large vessel, sprinkle lightly with salt, and repeat. For every quart of packed-down lettuce use 1- 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of salt. Mix the lettuce and salt layers all up, taste, and add more salt if there is no noticeable saltiness to the lettuce.
- Once that is completed, weigh down the vegetables in the large bowl or crock. This can be done with a large cabbage leaf or lettuce leaf topped with a heavy plate that fits just inside the vessel, plus anything that can be put atop the plate to weight it down further.
- The brine will begin to form and by 24 hours after the initial salting and weighting the lettuce should be covered in brine. If not, add some brine with a ratio of 1 quart water to 2 tablespoons salt. The lettuce should be at least 2 inches below the brine.
- Allow this to ferment for several days, transfer to glass jars if desired, and move the jars to cold storage.
Delicious as an addition to salads.
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