Growing your own lettuce is a great way to eat a fresh salad anytime, all throughout the season. It is a common misconception that once the lettuce is ready to harvest, you dig up the plant and that is the end. People are under this impression because when you buy the plant at the grocery store, you typically are buying the whole head of lettuce; including the base. This plant is quick to come back and provide you with more lettuce all throughout the season. Find out how to properly harvest this leafy vegetable.
Scissors are the best tool to use for this. Garden pruning shears are too short to get the job done. The goal is to make a clean cut all the way through the diameter of the plant. Gather the plant together with your free hand, so it is easy to make one simple cut to harvest the entire plant. Using your clean, sharp scissors decide where you are going to cut. The length should be about 2 inches from the base of the plant, at the dirt.
Place the leaves in a colander or strainer and rinse it off at least three times. Do not use anything to clean the lettuce, except water. Place wet leaves on a clean dry paper towel so they can dry out. Let the leaves dry for about an hour or use a spinning produce dryer.
To store the produce, use a relatively large plastic container that has a flat bottom and a lid that fits. Add a paper towel to the bottom of the container. Then lay several pieces of lettuce on the towel. Then add another paper towel and lay more lettuce down. Continue to do this until the container is filled to the top. Careful not to cram too much in the container. You do not want to have pressure pushing down on the lettuce leaves. The paper towels absorb any extra water in the plant and keep the produce fresher for a longer period of time.
This technique can be used for any type of lettuce, along with most types of leafy vegetables. Using this method of harvest and storage, you should have plenty of lettuce all summer long.