Jul 6, 2023
Ever experienced buying a load of lettuce, then forgetting about it? And when you remember its existence, the green is no longer suitable for human consumption. With many experiencing challenges with their food supply, it’s a shame to waste such good food. So, let’s talk about how to freeze dry lettuce and have it in your storage for years instead of weeks.
If you have iceberg lettuce, bang the stem on the counter with feelings. It’s a great stress buster, and this is one time you get to play with your food. In addition, the force will break the stem attachment from the nodes. This will effectively help you separate the leaf blades, making it easy for you to process the lettuce. You can now split or divide the leaves for cleaning and chopping to your desired size.
If you have romaine, and loose leaf lettuce, wash them thoroughly under running water to remove the debris. Next, remove the core by cutting out 3/4 inch of the bottom part, then cut to size.
For butterhead lettuce, twist off the root, then wash the entire head under running water before taking out the leaves. If you’re handling radicchio, cut the vegetable in half lengthwise. Then remove the core by making a “V” shaped cut at the bottom. The leaves are now free to separate, clean, and cut to the size you prefer.
Cleaning lettuce is as easy as swishing the greens in plenty of cold water. This will help remove all the dirt and debris from the leaves. Some advise washing lettuce with lemon or vinegar water to help remove surface microbes. The mixture is usually 1:2 of vinegar to water ratio. For lemon water, it’s usually 1 tbsp of lemon juice to 1 cup of water. You can add 2 tbsp of baking soda for this.
However, this cleaning method can affect the taste and texture of your lettuce. Those who freeze dry food with vinegar, like cucumber, say that freeze-drying mellows down the vinegary taste. If you prefer to be on the extra safe side, there is no harm in washing or spraying the leaves with an acid wash. Rinse the greens well afterward to eliminate as much of the taste as possible.
Pre-freezing lettuce is not necessary. Not because it doesn’t have moisture. You’ll be surprised to find that it has over 95% water. The reason is the greens are paper thin, which is enough for your freeze dryer to penetrate through the cell walls.
What’s more, your freeze dryer’s colder than your deep freezer. As a result, the ice crystals formed aren’t too big to cause damage to the cell walls. This means your leaves will appear better than those pre-frozen in the deep freezer.
Should you decide to pre-freeze, 24-48 hours would be sufficient. This will make sure you have fully frozen lettuce for a better freeze-drying process. Harvest Right recommends 48 hours, but this could be too much unless you’re freeze-drying tons of leaves.
Got your lettuce ready? Then let’s get your Harvest Right freeze dryer going! On a side note, don’t stack the leaves too high. They might stick to the roof of the shelf or won’t freeze dry properly.
Since we’re talking about greens here, freeze-drying lettuce can take between 9-12 hours. Of course, that will depend on how much you’re freeze-drying and the temperature plus humidity of where you installed your freeze-dryer.
After freeze-drying, you can store the leaves as they are. Or you could buzz them in a blender to make freeze-dried lettuce powder. This will go perfectly with your smoothies and power shakes.
For storing, you can choose Mason jars for on-demand use. They’re solid and can protect your delicate greens from breaking. The jars are also easy to reseal after you get some freeze-dried greens for your recipes.
If you’re thinking long-term, go for Mylar bags. They’re designed to protect food against light and heat that spoils your food. They’re lightweight and don’t take up too much space, so they’re perfect for traveling and limited storage space. However, they can also puncture and cannot protect your food from getting squished.
Before you seal your container, don’t forget to add oxygen absorbers. About 1-2 of the 300cc packets per gallon size of your container will be enough to prevent spoilage.
Your freeze-dried greens can last 25 years or more when stored properly. Keep your stash in a cool, dark, draft-free room. Keep the room temperature below 72°F (22 °C). and the relative humidity level 15% or less.
Lettuce is one of the freeze-dried food that doesn’t reconstitute well. So the texture will never be the same as that of the fresh ones. But if you’re using the greens for soups, just throw them in at the last minute. Remember to adjust the water level appropriately. But you won’t need to add much unless you need tons of freeze-dried lettuce to your soup.
Freeze-drying lettuce is easy and highly recommended. With the green’s high perishability, the best you can do is make it shelf-stable. It’s easy to do and doesn’t require much prep work. Once you get it freeze-dried, you’ll be proud to say you’ve made sure your family has nutritious food.
How much lettuce are you freeze-drying? Let us know in the comment section.
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