Closely related to bibb and Boston lettuce, buttercrunch lettuce is among the most nourishing of the butterhead variety.
As a cool-weather crop, it thrives when planted as early as possible, right when the ground is ready to be worked in spring.
Even better, it is a low-maintenance crop, so you won’t have a hard time helping it mature enough for harvesting.
When to harvest buttercrunch lettuce? Planted between spring and fall, you will only need to wait 55 to 65 days to harvest a full head. However, you can also harvest single leaves as early as 21 days after planting. If you wait until daytime temperatures reach above 70 degrees, you’re too late.
How Do You Know When Your Buttercrunch Lettuce Is Ready to Harvest?
Fond of eating lettuce? Buttercrunch lettuce is one of the most in-demand among the many lettuce varieties.
The reason for this is its bright green leaves with a touch of red, which are soft, sweet, and have a mild flavor.
More importantly, they are a good source of potassium and iron, vitamins A, C, and K, as well as folate.
That said, you can only enjoy these benefits if you harvest buttercrunch lettuce at the right time.
It is best to start picking while the leaves are still young and soft, usually around two months after planting.
Here’s what you need to keep in mind to make sure they are mature enough for harvesting:
Harvest from spring to fall.
Depending on the climate in your area, you probably started growing buttercrunch lettuce right when the season changed.
By the latter part of fall, you will notice the leaves will have a bright green color and have grown around six inches tall.
That said, keep in mind that the bigger the leaf, the more it will droop and the harder it will be for the lettuce to stay crisp.
It’s also a good idea to harvest buttercrunch lettuce early in the morning so that the leaves can stay fresh longer.
On the other hand, harvesting them later in the afternoon keeps them less likely to get heat damage.
Do a taste test.
How the buttercrunch lettuce tastes will give you an idea of whether it’s ready for harvest or not.
Pick a few leaves and give them a taste.
If it’s bitter, it needs more time to develop. When it already tastes sweet, you can go ahead and harvest.
What Happens if You Don’t Harvest Buttercrunch Lettuce?
As you might’ve guessed from its name, buttercrunch lettuce tastes sweet and buttery. Like most produce, if you don’t harvest them on time, the texture and flavor will decline.
So, when it’s time to harvest, it’s much better to do it immediately than to wait a few days.
Aside from freshness, not harvesting the leaves on time will also encourage the plant to grow a seed stalk.
Called bolting, the plant will focus more on growing seeds, so the leaves will lose their sweet flavor and become bitter.
How to Harvest Buttercrunch Lettuce?
Harvesting buttercrunch lettuce is easy and does not require any particular skill or special tools.
All you have to remember is to be careful with handling the leaves to prevent damaging them.
When harvesting buttercrunch lettuce, you can either harvest the whole head or pick the leaves individually.
While you won’t need special gardening tools to do both, some choose to use them to make harvesting quicker and easier.
To start harvesting buttercrunch lettuce, follow these simple steps:
Step 1: Check if lettuce heads are fully grown.
As mentioned, buttercrunch lettuce takes 55 to 65 days to reach maturity and be ready for harvesting.
Around this time, the lettuce heads are firm and will have a vibrant green color of fan-shaped leaves.
Step 2: Harvest in the morning.
It’s best to pick buttercrunch lettuce when the weather is cool.
The best time would be early in the morning when the leaves are at their freshest, sweetest, and crispiest.
Step 3: Start cutting.
Using a gardening knife with a thin blade or pruning shears will make it easy for you to harvest buttercrunch lettuce heads.
To do this, use one hand to lift the outside leaves gently and then cut them at the base of the plant.
Ensure the cut keeps all the leaves together and the roots still intact.
Step 4: Picking the lettuce the traditional way.
You can also harvest buttercrunch lettuce by hand.
With one hand, steadily hold the lettuce head and use the other hand to pick the leaves off.
Place your thumb near the base, grab the leaves, and gently separate them from the ground.
Do not pull on the lettuce head. Instead, twist it off so as not to damage the roots.
If you don’t mess with the plant’s crown, there’s a good chance it will grow new leaves for you to harvest.
Step 5: Leave a short stub for sprouting.
Do not uproot or pull up the lettuce.
Leave a short stub around an inch from the ground with the roots still embedded so that it can grow new leaves and you can harvest again.
Buttercrunch lettuce will resprout after two to three weeks. It will keep growing and form a new lettuce head you can harvest again.
Step 6: Harvest regularly.
Buttercrunch lettuce is a lettuce variety that was raised to grow as massive as possible.
If you want to harvest for an extended period, pick the smaller leaves from the outermost center to encourage leaf growth.
This will result in more fresh lettuce to harvest.
Should You Wash Buttercrunch Lettuce After Harvesting?
Of course, washing all freshly picked produce before eating them is necessary. It will remove the soil, insects, and other debris that could be hiding in the crevices.
Is the process the same with buttercrunch lettuce if you want to prepare it for storage?
First of all, you don’t have to rinse buttercrunch lettuce unless you are ready to use it.
Otherwise, you’d be exposing the leaves to too much moisture, which may make them wilt a bit quicker.
To wash buttercrunch lettuce and ensure you don’t compromise their quality, here’s what you should do.
1. Soaking in cold water
Fill a basin or sink with cool water and then dip the leaves in for about 10 minutes.
After waiting a bit, spin the leaves around gently so that any stuck dirt or debris will sink to the bottom.
2. Using running water
When washing just one lettuce head or only a few leaves, doing so under running water is best.
Again, you will want to rinse each leaf thoroughly and carefully. Lightly rub each one with your fingers, paying close attention to the leaf folds.
After that, lay out the newly washed leaves on a paper towel to dry.
Can You Eat Buttercrunch Lettuce Immediately After Harvesting?
Buttercrunch lettuce heads don’t need to ripen off the plant before you can eat them.
In fact, they taste the best when you eat them right after harvesting (and after washing, of course!).
The best thing about these leafy greens is that you won’t run out of ways to put them to good use.
You can add it to your favorite sandwich or use it on your salads.
Another interesting way to enjoy buttercrunch lettuce leaves is to use them as lettuce wraps because of the larger leaves.
As the name suggests, these greens are crunchy, so they can add texture to an otherwise boring dish.
The best part is that you can even grill them to bring a new twist to your recipe.
How To Store Freshly Harvested Buttercrunch Lettuce
Regardless of how much you think you love greens, you won’t be able to consume all your freshly harvested lettuce within a few days.
In that case, it would help to learn how to store them properly so that you can enjoy them for longer.
Lettuce heads will last up to three weeks, while the leaves can stay in the fridge for up to 10 days.
To prepare the lettuce for storage, rinse the leaves in cold water first.
After that, remove the excess water by shaking the lettuce and putting it on a paper towel to dry.
You can also use another paper towel to cover it, helping absorb extra moisture.
Once dry, wrap them with a paper towel and put them in a Ziploc bag or another sealed container.
Lastly, put the bag or container in the crisper drawer of your fridge to preserve its crisp texture.
Buttercrunch lettuce is rich in vitamins and is a good source of potassium and iron.
They mature quickly and are easy to grow and harvest. In about two months after planting, you can enjoy freshly picked buttercrunch lettuce.
Aside from being low-maintenance crops, these plants don’t need replanting. They can resprout after three weeks, making them even more exciting to grow.
Because of its vibrant-colored leaves, they will add a touch of lively color to your garden.
You can even plant them in containers alongside other cool-season crops like calendula, pansies, and nasturtiums.