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Pirat lettuce has tender crimson-tinged upward growing leaves attached to a stout blanched heart. Its leaves have a complex and slightly bittersweet flavor, yet, as it is a butterhead variety, they have a melting-quality in the mouth. The ribs leading to the heart are succulent, snappy and mild in flavor. When the leaves are torn from the rib, the lettuce emits a mildly bitter milky substance. This is where all lettuce varieties get their scientific name, Lactuca sativa, which translates simply as milk.
Pirat lettuce is available year-round with a peak season in winter and spring.
Pirat is a Red Butterhead lettuce also known as Sprenkel and Brauner Trotzkopf. The distinction of Butterhead explains that each lettuce variety within the family will form loose rounded heads and large, easily separated leaves that achieve a buttery quality in their texture. Pirat lettuce's red coloring is due to its high content of the pigment, anthocyanin, which is responsible for the red in food plants. It may also be responsible for the more buttery texture found in red leafed lettuces.
Pirat lettuce's texture and its subtle flavors are a perfect canvas for savory and bold companion ingredients and bright, fruity flavors. Its leaves provide a vessel to soak up flavors, cut fat, hold sauces and juices. Pirat lettuce can be utilized as the principle ingredient within a simple salad alongside ingredients such as shallots, dill, blue cheese, tomatoes, apples, pears, melon, nuts, bacon, basil, mint and dried fruits. The leaves can also be removed from the base and used for color and texture atop burgers and sandwiches as well as in wraps and summer rolls.
Pirat is a a German heirloom lettuce and descendant of the French heirloom, Merveille des Quatre Saisons (Marvel of the Four Seasons). This pedigree status qualifies Pirat as a distinguished variety with a history of European lettuces known for their superior flavor and quality. Pirat lettuce thrives in fertile soil with sunny warm days in cool and coastal climates.