It’s no secret that lettuce is one of the peskiest veggies to keep fresh (though these tips help). Despite using it seemingly constantly in salads, wraps and even these Pork & Vegetable Spring Rolls, we still have trouble eating it up before it meets a limp, soggy fate. One surefire way to always have a handful of fresh lettuce at the ready is by simply growing your own.
Don’t get too intimidated—regrowing many types of produce, such as celery, at home requires little skill, time or even space. No garden needed! So pick any type of lettuce with its root attached (we recommend romaine) and get growing.
How to Regrow Lettuce
1. Trim Down
Grab a head of romaine or other lettuce, and cut it crosswise about 1-2 in. from the base. You should be left with a mostly white cluster of stems held together by the root, or the brownish nub at the end. This cluster is the part from which the new sprouts will grow. Use the leaves that you removed however you like; we love them in these deliciously non-boring lettuce recipes.
2. Position in a Container
Place the cluster in a small container, removing some of the outer layers of stems if needed to fit. A cup, can or jar will do, as long as the stems sit upright in it. Add about 1/2 in. water to the container, making sure the root is entirely submerged.
3. Set in the Sun
Move the container to a spot that receives significant natural light to ensure the plant gets the energy it needs to grow. A sunny windowsill works great. Or, if you have grow lights, place the container under those. If the plant is in a good spot, color should develop as quickly as overnight!
4. Swap Water
Change the water in the container every 1-2 days. This might seem excessive, but by doing so, you’re preventing the water from getting dirty or moldy. Without clean water, the lettuce could begin to rot. With fresh water and sufficient sunlight, however, leaves will start emerging from the center of the stems within just a couple days.
5. Wait Patiently
After about a week and a half, your lettuce is likely done growing. If you leave it in the water much longer than this, the lettuce might become bitter and turn a bluish hue. Harvest the leaves when they’re vibrant green and lush.
Simply snap off the leaves and toss ’em into a small side salad, sandwich or wrap (like this BLT one). You’ll notice your new head of lettuce doesn’t look like those you buy at the store—and that’s OK. This process of regrowing lettuce typically only yields enough leaves for topping your favorite recipes, rather than for creating an abundant main-dish salad.
As with most DIY projects, the results of this will vary. Different heads and types of lettuce will perform differently—in fact, some might not even grow at all. Thankfully, this is an inexpensive experiment that you can try again and again. And we think you should because, hey, it’s always a good thing to know where your food comes from!