You just can’t go wrong with romaine lettuce. If you’re searching for a crisp, fresh base for your salads, a gluten-free replacement for burger buns or other sandwich rolls, or even a little extra roughage for your smoothies, it’s a perfect choice!
While you can usually find this common lettuce at any grocery store, nothing really compares to growing it yourself. Let’s dive in and find out everything you need to know about romaine lettuce, from its taste and appearance to how to grow it yourself.
Characteristics of Romaine Lettuce
The Appearance of Romaine Lettuce
If you’ve seen one kind of lettuce, you’ve seen them all—right? Well, not exactly. While all types of lettuce share some similar characteristics, they actually do vary quite a bit in appearance!
Romaine is uniquely suited to use as a bread replacement or for use in lettuce wraps because of its large, sturdy leaves.
The bright green sheaves of lettuce are long and thick, perfect for adding considerable substance to your meals despite being mostly composed of water. Supporting the green leaves are bone-like stalks of white, appropriately referred to as the “ribs” of the lettuce.
Taste of Romaine Lettuce
Lettuce isn’t the most overwhelmingly flavorful food; it’s better off as a vessel for other things. However, romaine is actually known as one of the most flavorful types of lettuce out there!
While it does have a bit of a bitter tinge to its taste, you’ll be happy to know that it’s very mild, and the main notes of romaine are crisp and clean.
It’s not very sweet, so you don’t have to keep that in mind when pairing it with other ingredients. With sweeter types of lettuce, you have to try and either downplay or accent that sweetness depending on your preferences; romaine lettuce makes for a more neutral ingredient!
Romaine Lettuce Plant Traits
While romaine is often considered to be a singular type of lettuce, there are actually many kinds of romaine lettuce, such as Freckled, Little Gem, and more! But for now, let’s focus on the classic romaine lettuce.
Romaine is heat-resistant, and also fairly bolt-resistant; if you don’t know what bolting is, it’s actually the term for when lettuce starts attempting to sprout flowers.
While you can still technically eat “bolted” lettuce, it’s suggested that you test it out before committing; bolting can change the taste of lettuce in an unfavorable way, and you don’t want to make a whole salad with bolted lettuce before finding out it’s going to leave a bad taste in your mouth…literally.
Uses for Romaine Lettuce
Not many people just grab a leaf of lettuce and crunch on it, but hey, to each their own! However, you can make some pretty amazing snacks that include romaine, such as fruit smoothies or lettuce chips.
Of course, if you want to stick to a more classic use of a classic lettuce variety, you can always make a side salad or a snack-sized version of whatever your favorite salad is.
Romaine is one of the most popular lettuces to use in salads for a reason; its hearty leaves and notably delicious flavor make for much more filling and tasty salads than other lettuce, which is why it’s a great base for hearty salads such as this grinder salad.
If you’re not the salad-eating sort, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy romaine lettuce in some of your favorite dishes!
Romaine lettuce is a favorite choice for gluten-sensitive individuals as a replacement vessel for their sandwiches, wraps, and even taco shells. As with any other dish, the size and heft of these leaves make for a much better bread substitute than flimsier types of lettuce.
If you’re looking for a way to make romaine lettuce appetizing all on its own as part of your meal, you can also take romaine lettuce hearts, season them with your favorite spices or even a vinaigrette (salads, remember?), and throw them on the grill!
The end result will be a pleasantly smoky, well-seasoned, vegetarian or vegan-friendly side dish at your family barbecue.
When is Romaine Lettuce in season?
Romaine takes about 50 days to mature, so keep that timeline in mind when planting! You want to make sure you plant early enough to be able to harvest when you want.
Most gardeners recommend starting your seeds either in early spring or early autumn, but make sure you don’t start them in the ground right away! The best method for growing romaine is to start the seeds indoors before transplanting after about a month of indoor growing.
Be careful to avoid putting your seedlings at risk of frost; if you time your seed-starting correctly, especially with the month of growing indoors, this shouldn’t be an issue.
Just be sure to check your area and see when you can anticipate that final frost! (If you intend to plant in early fall, the season’s first frost is what you need to watch out for.)
Growing Romaine Lettuce at Home
Growing romaine isn’t too difficult for even beginner gardeners, but growing plants for food rather than looks is always a bit more of an undertaking!
You’ll want to invest in a good pest control method, such as the Hoss Tools Pest Success Kit. While you never want to risk pests getting at any of your garden plants, you especially want to be cautious when you’re planning on consuming the fruits of your labor.
Where to Buy Romaine Lettuce Seeds
While you can find many different types of romaine lettuce at the store yourself, if you want to grow the classic kind, We suggest going to Hoss Tools to order your seeds.
It’s important to order from reputable seed providers when you’re doing your garden shopping online, and there are many retailers that might send you a pack of duds.
Final Thoughts on Romaine Lettuce
Ultimately, romaine lettuce is a great investment for your garden, especially if you’re a fan of salads. You can’t go wrong with having a steady supply of this delicious greenery right in your backyard!
For more information on lettuce varieties, growing lettuce yourself, and more, check out our lettuce page now!
- About the Author
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Cassidy Eubanks is a proud Michigander, an avid reader, a lover of colorful gardens, and a writer for Minneopa Orchards.
After earning her bachelor’s in Creative Writing (partially through virtual learning, thanks to the pandemic), gardening gave her an excuse to get outside and get away from all the screens. With a particular love for decorating with colorful flowers, using herbs grown in her own garden, and finding creative ways to build big gardens in small spaces, Cassidy enjoys helping others learn about growing their own food, flowers, and trees through Minneopa Orchards!