I love to grab large leafy lettuce from the grocery store. The problem for me is that I start to worry if I buy the pretty lettuce though, will it last long enough at home?
If you are in a hurry though, I want to give you a few quick tips.
- Select fresh, crisp bibb lettuce with no signs of wilting or discoloration.
- Refrigeration is Key: Storing Bibb lettuce in the refrigerator is crucial, particularly using damp paper towels to maintain its moisture and prevent wilting.
- Damp Paper Towel Method: Wrap the lettuce in damp paper towels, place it in a plastic bag with air holes, and store it in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer for optimal moisture retention.
- Airtight Container Method: Line a plastic container with paper towels, place the lettuce on top, cover with more paper towels, and seal the container to prevent moisture loss and keep the lettuce fresh longer.
Before we get too far into how to store bibb lettuce, I wanted to give you a short bit about the difference between Bibb lettuce and butter lettuce. Trying to keep up with the different types of lettuce can be a bit of a chore.
Bibb lettuce and butter lettuce refer to the same variety of lettuce. Here’s a comparison of some of their key similarities and differences:
- Both are green leaf lettuces known for having very soft, almost buttery leaves.
- They have a sweet, mild, slightly nutty flavor.
- The leaves cup to form a loose head shape.
- They are sometimes called “limestone lettuce” or “Boston lettuce.”
- Butter lettuce is the more commonly used name in supermarkets, restaurants, etc. Bibb lettuce is seen more often in gourmet recipes or upscale establishments.
- Bibb lettuce is named after John Bibb, an American Revolutionary war officer who first grew this variety in Kentucky.
- The leaves of butter lettuce form a slightly tighter head overall compared to bibb lettuce’s very loose, wide leaves.
- Butter lettuce is more heat tolerant and easier to grow than bibb in home gardens.
- Bibb lettuce is typically more expensive and seen as a premium, high-end lettuce option. It’s served in many high-end restaurants.
Selecting Bibb Lettuce
When it comes to selecting Bibb lettuce, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure you get the freshest and most flavorful leaves.
Here are some tips to follow:
- Look for heads with crisp, perky green leaves. Avoid lettuce with any sliminess, browning, or dark spots
- Leaves should cup to form a loose rosette shape. They shouldn’t look dried out or have gaps between leaves
- Size can vary from small tennis ball size up to large grapefruit size heads. Both are fine, it just depends on your preference.
- Avoid heads with any signs of bolting—this means early seed stem development, which makes leaves bitter
- Give a gentle squeeze—it should feel tender yet resilient. If it’s limp or the leaves shred, the lettuce is past its prime.
- For pre-packaged bibb, check that leaves don’t look crushed or bruised within the bag
- Look under exterior leaves for any hidden discoloration or moisture within the head
- Prepared cores should appear freshly cut, not dark or dried out
When selecting Bibb lettuce, look for leaves that are bright green and crisp. Avoid any leaves that are wilted, brown, or slimy to the touch. You can also check the stem to see if it looks fresh and moist. If the stem is dry and brown, the lettuce is likely past its prime.
Another way to tell if Bibb lettuce is fresh is to smell it. Fresh lettuce should have a clean, slightly sweet aroma. If the lettuce smells sour or musty, it is likely past its prime.
Storing Bibb Lettuce
Since properly storing Bibb lettuce is a big worry for me, whether it is warranted or not, I wanted to provide you with a few of my favorite tips.
Refrigeration is the most important step in storing Bibb lettuce. According to Storables, it is best to store Bibb lettuce in damp paper towels in the refrigerator. This method helps to maintain the moisture content of the lettuce and prevent it from wilting.
Damp Paper Towel Method:
- Procedure: Wrap Bibb lettuce in damp paper towels.
- Storage: Place the wrapped lettuce in a plastic bag with air holes.
- Location: Store in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.
- Benefit: Helps maintain moisture and prevents wilting.
Airtight Container Method:
- Line the bottom of a plastic container with paper towels.
- Place the Bibb lettuce on top of the towels.
- Cover the lettuce with more paper towels.
- Sealing: Securely seal the container with its lid.
- Benefit: Prevents moisture loss and extends freshness.
The bottom line
There you have it. Storing bibb lettuce isn’t all that difficult but there are a few things to keep in mind. My personal favorite method for storing bibb lettuce is the airtight container method. The biggest advantage to it is that the lettuce doesn’t get crushed.