Sunday, June 7, 2009

The biggest customer complaint in produce today is poor quality lettuces. Most major grocery chains have switched much of their counter space to prepackaged lettuces and this category has become very popular with consumers because of the no fuss, no work, and easy preparation.

Packaged produce technology was originally developed by Nasa for our Astronauts in space. I spent quite a bit of time promoting this field. Today with technological advances this category has outpaced regular lettuce sales.

When selecting romaine check the butt (bottom) to see if there are any signs of leaves having been ripped off or the butt seems longer than the rest on the display, this is a typical indication that the lettuce has been trimmed more than once so it's been sitting around for awhile.

Pull apart the leaves and look in the center of the head for rot or just use your nose and sniff; we all know what bad produce smells like. Signs of rust on the lettuce stems doesn't mean the lettuce is bad (only on iceberg lettuce) If the tips of the leaves are brown but the leaves look fresh, this is a sign of "tip burn" and the lettuce is still worth buying (tip burn is caused by the sun).

There are 2 grades of romaine lettuce and heads with a length under 10 inches are normally bought much cheaper and the retail price should reflect this. Premium romaine should typically have a length of 12 inches or longer.

I recommend what I call curly romaine, every leaf has a "curled" look to it and the leaves are very firm and crisp. Much tastier than flat leaf romaine. This variety is sold as regular romaine, no special name given to it and it's available everywhere.



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