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Limestone lettuce has succulent leaves that are tightly wound to a crisp blanched heart. The leaves at the base are white to green while the upper loosely crinkled part of the leaves evolve into glossy hues of lime green. Its flavor is smooth, rich and buttery with a slight mineral finish. Even at maturity, Limestone lettuce forms smaller than average sized lettuce heads, averaging six inches in diameter.
Limestone lettuce is available year-round.
Limestone lettuce is a member of the Lactuca genus and the Asteraceae (Sunflower) family. Lettuce is categorized into six different types, also known as subspecies or botanical varieties. The six types of lettuce are Crisphead (Iceberg and Batavian), Romaine, Butter, Latin, Leaf and Stem. Limestone lettuce, is a Butter lettuce type. This distinction explains that each Butter lettuce variety will form compact rosette shaped heads and large, easily separated leaves that achieve a buttery quality in their texture. Limestone lettuce varieties are essentially lettuce that was cultivated in limestone rich soils in Kentucky, hence its other name, the Kentucky Limestone.
Limestone lettuce can be readily used in place of Bibb lettuce and other Butter lettuce types. Its texture and flavor make it a favorable principle lettuce in salads vs. mixed greens. Little manipulation is needed, just quality companion ingredients such as artisan cheeses, fresh herbs, farmers market fruits and nuts alongside good olive oil, fresh juice-based dressings and seasonal recipe inspirations. A virtue of note with Limestone lettuce: Its crinkled and quilted leaves soak up flavors, cut fat, hold sauces, vinaigrettes and juices.
Limestone is an American heirloom lettuce developed by John Bibb 1865. He cultivated a special variety of Butter lettuce in Kentucky's alkaline rich, red earthen clay soil where limestone is inherently found. Though its namesake is due to the soil of the Kentucky region, it has been adapted outside of Kentucky in similar soil types in temperate regions within North America. As region dedicates origin and quality control, it is said, that those lettuces grown elsewhere are not officially "Limestone" lettuce.
Recipes that include Limestone. One is easiest, three is harder.