Table of content A-Z


head lettuce


Synonyms/varieties: butter lettuce, Boston lettuce, Bibb lettuce, cabbage lettuce

botanical name: Lactuca sativa var. capitata



Head lettuce stems from a wild species, Lactuca serriola L., which originally grew in the Mediterranean area and in western Asia, but also in India and North Africa. Head lettuce is grown today all over the world. The main area of cultivation is Europe, where head lettuce is also eaten the most.


Head lettuce can be bought all year round but is especially abundant from April to October. Domestic produce grown outdoors is available from June to October.

Appearance, taste, characteristics

Head lettuce consists of wide-lobose, undivided leaves that form a close head. Head lettuce is predominantly green, but there are red varieties. The inner leaves are usually lighter in color than the outer leaves due to the minimal amount of light they receive. Head lettuce tastes relatively neutral; at times it has a slightly bitter flavour.


Red head lettuce owes its color to anthocyanins, which are a secondary plant substance. The outer leaves have more vitamin C than the inner leaves.

100 g contain:

Head lettuce,
Energie (kcal)
Wasser (g)
Eiweiß (g)
Fett (g)
< 1
Kohlenhydrate (g)
Ballaststoffe (g)
Vitamin C (mg)
Vitamin A (RÄ) (µg)
Folsäure (µg)
Kalium (mg)
Natrium (mg)
Calcium (mg)
Magnesium (mg)
Eisen (mg)

Harmful substances

The nitrate content of head lettuce can be relatively high at 1000–4000 mg per kg; greenhouse lettuce has a higher nitrate content than lettuce grown outdoors.

Quality criteria, optimal storage conditions

A head lettuce is fresh when its stem is not discoloured and the leaves have a fresh color, i.e., are neither wilted nor brown.

If you wish to keep head lettuce for several days, you should wrap it in moist paper and put it in the refrigerator. Red spots on the ribs or leaves can be avoided by not storing ghead lettuce together with fruits or vegetables that give off ethylene, such as apples.

Form of consumption, use, processing, practical tips for preparation

Head lettuce is usually eaten as salad. Its neutral taste makes it easy to combine with any other raw vegetable. Before it is eaten, the stem and the outer leaves should be removed. They should be washed carefully and allowed to drain well.

It would be difficult to do anything wrong with regard to dressings and seasoning. Because of its neutral flavour, head lettuce goes with just about everything. If the salad is prepared just before it is to be eaten it will remain crisp.

Head lettuce leaves are also useful as a decoration or as a topping for baguettes and sandwiches, not least because they keep the bread from getting soggy.

It is possible to braise or cook head lettuce, but not usual.





  This article was written by




  With the website the Fritz Terfloth Foundation of Münster offers consumers independent and competent information about plant foods and their health effects. All texts are subject to German copyright law. Information about the conditions for use of the texts by third parties can be found here.