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How To Teep Lettuce Fresh At The Farmer’s Market?

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    Lettuce is one of the first vegetables that appear in spring and which, through its content, invigorates, stimulates the appetite, and cleanses the body. It is a popular ingredient in salads, is a vegetable known for its green leaves, although they can also be red and purple, rolled or as an open flower, they are generally consumed raw, but you can also cook or roast them. Currently, there are many types of lettuce but almost all provide the same nutrients and low calories, have sedative properties, favor you in diseases.

    Lettuce Fresh At The Farmer's Market

    It is recommended that you include them in your daily menu to help your body recover when it has been deprived of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Lettuce is an important source of chlorophyll and vitamin K. It has very few calories, but it is consistent and filling, being ideal for those on diets. It is rich in minerals and alkaline elements, extremely important for blood health. It helps cleanse the blood and keeps the mind alert. It is rich in lutein, beta-carotene, vitamin C, Vitamin K, calcium, folic acid, and iron. Vitamin K is good for blood health and helps prevent blood clots. Lettuce also contains other nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin B6, lycopene, potassium. It also contains alkaloids, responsible for the therapeutic effects of lettuce.

    Benefits of lettuce

    1. Helps in slimming belts. Lettuce is ideal for people on diets because it contains very few calories. It also has a high water content, which helps hydrate the body. Lettuce also contains fiber, which helps digestion and gives satiety.
    2. Fight against diseases. Lettuce contains large amounts of beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant that fights disease. Certain conditions such as cataracts, heart attack, or cancer can be prevented or treated by regular consumption of lettuce.
    3. Prevents cancer. Foods rich in vitamins A and C help prevent cancer. Lettuce contains large amounts of these vitamins, so it can be eaten with confidence and included in your daily menu.
    4. Treat constipation. Lettuce is ideal for treating constipation. It contains large amounts of dietary fiber that stimulates bowel function and digestion. It is also beneficial for treating indigestion, arthritis, colitis, and circulatory problems.
    5. It helps to regenerate tissues. Lettuce is also rich in magnesium, which plays an important role in the regeneration of tissues, nerves, brain, and muscle cells.
    6. Prevents and relieves headaches. Lettuce juice mixed with rose oil, applied to the temples helps reduce the intensity of headaches. Lettuce is also beneficial for treating insomnia.
    7. Prevents birth defects. Lettuce contains a large amount of folic acid, which helps prevent birth defects, especially if consumed in the first trimester of pregnancy. Lettuce also prevents anemia.
    8. Prevents insomnia. Lettuce contains a sleep-inducing substance, making it ideal for people who often experience insomnia.
    9. It improves sex life. Regular consumption of lettuce treats various sexual disorders, stimulates fertility, and sperm production. It is beneficial for men who suffer from various erectile dysfunctions.

    Disadvantages of lettuce

    The lettuce is usually the star ingredient of most salads served when we are dieting. It is true that it is a very low-calorie vegetable, but despite this, it can have a series of effects on the body when it is eaten regularly which cannot be beneficial to your health.

    1. Nutrition is not balanced

    Most vegetables have a high carbohydrate content, low in protein and healthy fats. These carbohydrates come with enough dietary fiber to prevent vegetables from causing a spike in blood sugar. But even with this fiber, a plate of vegetables does not make balanced nutrition. Protein is needed to build and repair healthy cells in the body, and to build new lean muscle tissue.

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    2. Fluid retention

    Lettuce is an ingredient that is made up of leaf and stem. This last part contains latex that provides our body with a relaxing substance, perhaps too much, with which our metabolism slows down. If the lettuce is cooked, this effect may increase considerably. With this sense of relaxation and tranquility, we can suffer fluid retention more easily due to the slowdown of some areas of the body. In addition, we will have a feeling of discomfort and swelling of the belly due to gases.

    3. Not good for active people

    Lettuce, due to a substance called lactucarium, has sedative properties. For this reason, it is not recommended to consume this vegetable excessively in athletes or people who require a rather punctual physical performance, or for those who need to be mentally active.

    4. Not preferable for people with kidney disease

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    It is not recommended that people with kidney failure ingest this vegetable without any care, as it is a diuretic plant. Similarly, those who are taking a diuretic treatment should not add a high consumption of lettuce to their diet.

    In addition, it should be noted that lettuce can influence the speed of metabolism, thus slowing it down. This implies that we will process food more slowly and we may suffer from fluid retention and weight gain without any apparent justification. Finally, lettuce can also cause gas, which can cause abdominal bloating and pain in the area. Therefore, even though it seems to be an extremely light, harmless, and nutritious food, it must be taken into account that if we consume it in excess we can achieve side effects in our body.

    Keeping lettuce fresh in the farmers market

    Fresh vegetables are easily damaged or are perishable. Under normal conditions in traditional markets, fresh vegetables are generally only able to survive for one day, after that if left uncovered are rotted vegetables. In the refrigerator, fresh vegetables generally only last a maximum of two days, after which the vegetables will dry out and lose their freshness. This condition causes vegetable farmers to have a very weak bargaining position in the market. When vegetables are not sold out in one day, farmers or traders will lose money. Therefore, vegetables should be of sufficient quality in terms of their physicality and content.

    Some of the reasons why vegetables tend to rot in the market before reaching their consumers are:

    • Decreased water content in vegetables
    • Mechanical damage
    • High rainfall intensity during planting
    • Presence of microbes on vegetables during the field or after harvesting
    • Error during packing
    • Late harvesting
    • High respiration rate
    • Length of time of distribution of vegetables from the field to the consumers

    These are the conditions that can cause the quick decay or decomposition of the vegetables especially the green leafy ones such as lettuce. Once the vegetable is harvested, nothing can be done to improve the quality of the vegetable except to maintain the quality of the post-harvesting.

    Steps to maintain the freshness of lettuce in the farmers market

    1. Right harvest time estimation

    The first step towards maintaining the quality of lettuce is to estimate the right harvest time for lettuce. While estimating the harvest time, you should also consider the distance from the field to the market. If the distance from the field to the market is far, then the lettuce can be harvested before it is matured.

    And if the distance is not far away, you can wait till the lettuce is matured physiologically. You can harvest using tools or manually, however, using tools you need to maintain the cleanliness of the tools you are using. You should also look for the maintenance of the cleanliness of the container in which you are collecting your lettuce. While harvesting your lettuce it is better that you harvest them early in the morning as the lettuce is normally and naturally cool from the night. 

    2. Collection of the lettuce

    After harvesting the lettuce, it would not be wise to put the vegetable for a long time on the ground under sunlight. This will cause the dehydration of the lettuce and cause it to rot or dry out quickly. Therefore the collecting point or the place for the lettuce collection should not be far away from the field and should be under the shed. If you lack such a place, you can collect and keep your lettuce in an ice chest full of water and ice. For this you need to:

    • Just dip your lettuce into the ice water which will cool and hydrate your vegetable. You need to see the ice on the water if there is no ice. That would be the indication of high temperature and that the cooling won’t work properly.
    • Dip the whole lettuce and keep them there for around 5 minutes.
    • The ice will be melted as you dip your lettuce so to keep using this water, you need to keep on adding more ice from time to time.
    • This technique will help in keeping your lettuce cool and hydrated increasing their freshness and crispiness.
    • To use the same water in case if there is a lack of water, then you can use the sanitizer like chlorine to prevent the contamination to the next batch of lettuce.

    3. Sorting

    After the lettuce is stored under the shed, you need to sort out the good lettuce from the bad ones. You need to separate the ones which are good and in perfect condition from the ones which are rotten, have yellow leaves, different in color, or wilted.

    4. Cleaning

    Washing and cleaning the lettuce is the other step you need to perform separating the good ones from the rotten ones. It is necessary to remove the impurities, dirt that is attached to the lettuce so that the lettuce can appear clean, fresh, and attractive that will increase the selling value of the vegetables. However, you need to dry the lettuce completely, else the wet ones will decay quickly.

    5. Grading

    Lettuce is graded or classified according to the market share and the consumer criteria.

    6. Packing

    Another important step that is needed to carry out to keep the lettuce fresh is its packing. The correct packing is important as it will keep the freshness and attractiveness of the lettuce the same as it was after cleaning. This will also help in increasing the shelf life of the lettuce. Wooden box, bamboo baskets, or wrapping with some holes would be ideal for packing lettuce. The packing should be done loosely so as not to overburden, overweight, and damage the delicate leaves of the lettuce. The boxes should be packed within their capacity, not to overcapacity.

    7. Storage

    The lettuce after packaging until its distribution and transportation should be stored in a cool dry place or in the refrigerator. Certainly, to store a large amount of your lettuce, you need the large built-in coolers or refrigerators. If you don’t have these available, you can store your lettuce in an ice chest. For this you need to:

    • Put the ice at the bottom of the ice chest and put some material that can be used to separate the ice from your lettuce.
    • That could be newspaper or cardboard, the reason is to prevent ice from damaging your produce.
    • You can also use frozen gel packs if you don’t want to use ice.
    • You can use plastic bags or cover to cover the lettuce for some hours as this method will help in trapping humidity in the bag and benefit the cooling of your vegetable. However, this can be done only if you intend to store your vegetable for one day. For a longer period of time, this method is not applicable. 

    The optimum temperature for lettuce plants is in the range of 15-25 o C, this is because at that temperature the lettuce plants will be able to last long enough to maintain freshness. Whereas for temperatures or even cold temperatures can cause Freezing Damage. If the temperature is around 1.7 o C., this can cause freezing damage to the lettuce leaves. In addition, freezing damages can occur directly in special areas for sub-tropical regions, causing separation of epidermal cells from their leaves. This can spur leafiness and cause decay due to bacteria that are faster. Symptoms of freezing damage can be found in the presence of a translucent dark part or a runny surface that will turn into the mucus and will get worse after thawing.

    8. Optimum Humidity

    The optimum humidity for lettuce vegetables is more than 95%. Storage in a room with low temperature and relatively high humidity can slow the rate of evaporation and respiratory rate of lettuce. This can inhibit aging, heat dissipation, ripening, inhibit the activities of damaging microorganisms, biochemical changes in lettuce leaves. And can help in retaining the taste, color, texture, nutritional value, and the physical form of lettuce. Lettuce leaves stored at 32 ° F with 95% relative humidity hold up to 3-4 weeks.

    9. Respiration rate

    The minimal processing in lettuce slabs will result in the breakdown of plant cells and result in changes in plant physiology such as increased respiration rate and browning. Chopping vegetables will increase browning or damage by 20% – 70% or more depending on the type of product, cutting method, and storage temperature. Physical damage or injury due to minimal processing causes an increase in respiration and ethylene. Increased respiration rate will result in decreased quality and shelf life of the product. At the same time, the rate of other biochemical reactions will increase which causes changes in color ( browning ), flavor, texture, and nutritional quality (such as loss of vitamins).

    10. Ethylene Production Rate

    In the storage room for the vegetables, the level of oxygen is lowered to below 8%  that can extend the shelf life of vegetables. The effect of low oxygen and high carbon dioxide in storage air will slow respiration, ripening, senescence, reduce the rate of ethylene production, slow decay, and emphasize changes associated with maturation. Thus, the shelf life and freshness of lettuce leaves will last longer.

    11. Response To Ethylene

    The response of lettuce to ethylene is very sensitive. Damage can cause ethylene production to increase, symptoms that appear as colored spots on the leaf midrib. The damage is generally greater and less obvious than the damage due to ethylene-induced Russet spots on lettuce.

    12. Response to Controlled Atmosphere

    Storage in a room with a modified atmosphere system is a way of storing by regulating the composition of gases oxygen, carbon dioxide, and Nitrogen in the storage room at a certain concentration level. That can slow down the process of breathing, evaporation, and biological activities that can occur in lettuce. Storage with atmospheric modification techniques can be combined by using a special cooler in the tropics so that the commodity will last longer.

    13. Transportation

    This is the last step till you keep your lettuce for display and the most crucial step because the lettuce that you have kept and stored can be easily deteriorated in its quality during transportation if not done properly. If the distance of the market from the field is long, then the cooler should be used to transport. Else the transportation should be carried out in the night so that the heat of the sun doesn’t raise the temperature inside the vehicle.

    14. Display

    As for the display, you need to keep very few samples of your lettuce for display in the market and keep the larger amount in the ice storage chest. If the consumer after seeing your display wants to buy your product, you can go to the chest and get fresh for them. The other option could be to actually display your veggies while they are still in the cooler. As for the vegetable that is on display, you can keep them in water containers. You can also keep on spraying water into your lettuce from time to time while on display if you cant keep them in the container with water. Add some chlorine in the water.

    Keeping lettuce fresh in your home

    Low in calories, but particularly rich in vitamins, fibers, and mineral salts, lettuce is one of the star vegetables for preparing healthy and balanced meals. Its many varieties allow you to renew yourself while taking advantage of its multiple virtues. With some preserving techniques, you will rediscover the pleasure of tasting a firm and crunchy salad, even after having been forgotten for several days in the vegetable drawer.

    1. Wick away moisture

    To prevent your salad from darkening, softening, and showing a very faded look after just 24 hours in the refrigerator, you must first remove the moisture. Start by stripping your fresh salad and wash the leaves. Wring them out very carefully, ideally using a wringer, in order to remove the maximum amount of water. Repeat the operation several times if necessary. When the leaves are completely dry, place them in an airtight container like Tupperware, and refrigerate them. Deprived of water and air, your leaves will stay in top shape for at least a week.

    2. Bet on vinegar

    True grandmother’s tip, white vinegar does wonders in terms of conservation. Prepare a bowl of cold water – large enough to immerse all the leaves of the salad – and add half a glass of white vinegar. Let them soak for ten minutes then spin them without rinsing them. Put your leaves in a plastic bag and store them in the refrigerator. The salad thus prepared will keep for six to seven days without wilting.

    3. Use a freezer bag

    The special freezer zippered bags are perfect for storing salad, provided you know how to use them properly! Once your salad leaves are washed and wrung out, put them in the bag, taking the precaution of putting inside a paper towel. This will absorb moisture and your leaves will stay beautiful for a whole week.

    4. Add bread

    It may seem incredible, but your salad will keep its freshness if it is kept with a few pieces of hard bread. After having washed and wrung them out, put your salad leaves with stale in a plastic bag, and put everything in the refrigerator. The bread will capture moisture and your salad will remain as appetizing as it was on the first day for a short week.

    5. Offer a makeover

    Your salad bought early in the morning on the market and forgotten in the trunk of the car for a few hours now looks gray? Do not panic! To give it back its vitality, nothing better than immersing it in a bowl of very cold water with a piece of sugar. Forty-five minutes later, it will be beautiful again and ready to be chewed! Finally, remember that you should never use a knife to thin a salad: the oxidizing effect of the metal would blacken the leaves. Work it like the great chefs, that is to say, by hand only!

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