Michigan State University Extension
Preserving Food Safely - 01600694


     Celtuce is known also as stem lettuce,  celery  lettuce
and asparagus lettuce.  It looks like a cross between celery
and  lettuce.   This type of lettuce is grown for the edible
enlarged seed stalk.   The outer leaves resemble loose  leaf
lettuce, but are a lighter green.  These leaves may be eaten
in  salads at a young tender stage.   However,  they  become
bitter  and unpalatable rather quickly due to the  formation
of a milky sap.                                             

     Soon  after  the  development of the  outer  leaves,  a
central  stalk  bearing  tiny leaves at the  top  starts  to
elongate.   Allowed to grow,  this flower stalk will reach 4
to 5 feet in height.  It acts very much like regular lettuce
bolting to seed.  The outer edges of the round stem  contain
the bitter milky sap.                                       

     When the stem is about 12 to 18 inches long,  it should
be  cut off down into the leafy portion of the plant,  being
sure to peel the outer skin, removing the portion containing
the bitter sap.   The soft,  translucent green  central core
is the edible part.  It may be eaten fresh, either sliced or
diced into a salad.  The flavor is somewhat like a cucumber,
yet different.   In China,  where it is grown in  commercial
quantities,  the fleshy stem is cut into sections and cooked
by broiling or stewing.                                     

     Celtuce  should  do  well whenever  and  wherever  leaf
lettuce  is grown successfully.   Since it is a cool weather
crop,  it should be planted from seed in  the  fall,  winter
and early spring,  spaced at about 8 inches in the row,  and
treated  about  like regular lettuce.   Many  seed  catalogs
advertise seed for sale.                                    

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