Romaine is the lettuce of choice for Caesar salads; its full textured leaves give it enough body to hold the
Caesar dressing, while still containing a healthy crunch to the
bite. Bare, the tall, cylindrical leaves have a mildly bitter
taste, just enough to delicately tantalize the taste buds.
Romaine is usually available year round. When
you shop for romaine, search for crisp leaves void of browning edges
or spots. For longer shelf life in the refrigerator, wash the
leaves before storing: break off the core and separate all the
leaves; swirl the leaves in a container of cold water to remove any
dirt; then drain and dry the leaves.
If you wrap the cleaned leaves
loosely with paper towel inside a plastic bag, they should last up to
If you loosely wrap green leaf lettuce in a
paper towel inside a plastic bag, it
will keep for up to one week in your refrigerator.
Romaine ญญ Lactuca
Romaine is the most upright growing
of the four major types of lettuce. Romaine has long, upright, crisp
leaves with a distinctive midrib almost to the tip. The tip of the leaf
is blunt. Leaves are somewhat folded (cupped) and grouped into loose
heads. The interior leaves are more delicate and blanched than those
toward the outside.
This cylindrically-hearted lettuce
known to the Romans as Cappadocian lettuce is now called Roman lettuce
or more commonly, romaine. According to vegetable history, this dates
from the time when the Popes moved from Rome to Avignon in the 14th
century, bringing this type with them and having it grown in the palace
gardens. It was therefore known as Avignon lettuce.
In England, however, it is called cos
lettuce after the Greek island that was the birthplace of Hippocrates.
It was also grown and eaten raw or cooked in China in early history.
Paintings in Egyptian tombs dating from about 4500 BC reveal a type of
lettuce with long pointed leaves, not much different from romaine
Romaine may be started directly in
the garden by using seeds or transplants. Seeds are small so should be
sown shallowly and lightly covered with a sprinkling of soil. A burlap
bag and other materials are often used over the planted seeds as
moisture-holding devices until the seeds germinate.
After sowing seeds in the row or
within a given space, thin out the seedlings when they are about 3
inches tall to prevent crowding. Allow enough space between plants for
the size of plant desired. Small plants will develop at 4-inch spacings,
while 8-12 inches are required for larger romaine plants. When
transplanting into the garden, keep these same spacing guidelines in
mind. Rows should be 12 inches apart.
Soil preparation, liming,
fertilization, and most other cultural practices are about the same as
for other types of lettuce. The soil should be well prepared, fertilized
lightly but adequately, and kept moistened. Mulching for weed control
and the many other benefits works particularly well for romaine.
Romaine is susceptible to the pest
problems that affect lettuce. However, most gardeners are able to grow
romaine successfully with little or no spraying. Harvest romaine from
the garden as needed. Pick only a few leaves from a plant, leaving the
remainder for another time, or cut the entire plant just above the soil
1. Portions of this page
have been derived from Fact Sheet HS-658: a series of the Horticultural
Sciences Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of
Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Revised for
CD-ROM: May 1994; and from James M. Stephens, Professor, Horticultural
Sciences Department, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food
and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville FL 32611.
The Institute of Food and
Agricultural Sciences is an equal opportunity/affirmative action
employer authorized to provide research, educational
information and other services only to individuals and institutions that
function without regard to race color, sex, age, handicap, or national
origin. For information on obtaining other extension publications,
contact your county Cooperative Extension Service office.
Extension Service / Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences /
University of Florida / Christine Taylor Waddill, Dean
Portions of this page have been derived
from Fact Sheet HS-658: a series of the Horticultural Sciences
Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and
Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Revised for CD-ROM: May
1994. This document is copyrighted by the University of Florida,
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) for the people of
the State of Florida. UF/IFAS retains all rights under all conventions,
but permits free reproduction by all agents and offices of the
Cooperative Extension Service and the people of the State of Florida.
Permission is granted to others to use these materials in part or in
full for educational purposes, provided that full credit is given to the
UF/IFAS, citing the publication, its source, and date of publication.