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Bibb lettuce has strong Kentucky roots

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By Joan Martin

Kentuckians may know that Bibb lettuce was developed by Major John Bibb in the backyard of his Frankfort home — Grey Gables (Bibb-Burnley House).
He moved to Frankfort in 1856 and shared his seeds and plants with friends. Soon it became known as Bibb lettuce and became commercially produced in 1935.
Soon you will be able to buy Bibb lettuce at the local farmer’s markets. The Anderson County Farmer’s Market opens Friday, April 26 at noon.
Regular hours are Friday from noon to 6 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 3 p.m. The Frankfort Farmer’s Market opens Saturday, April 13 at River View Park.
Please support our local farmers.
Delicious salad greens have come a long way since they were originally thought to be weeds. Varieties of salad greens have been documented in Egyptian tomb paintings and identified by various Greek scholars.
Christopher Columbus introduced lettuce to the new world.
Popular spring leaf lettuce varieties include arugula, characterized by small, flat leaves with long stems, similar to dandelion leaves, with a peppery taste; loose leaf with curly leaves joined at the stem, including oak leaf, red leaf and green leaf; chicory or curly endive with dark, outer leaves and paler (or yellow) leaves toward the center and a ragged edge on long thin stems with a slightly bitter taste; and escarole, a milder chicory family member with broad wavy leaves. Romaine lettuce has a loaf-like shape with darker outer leaves, a strong taste and crispy texture, similar to iceberg lettuce.
Select fresh, crisp lettuce leaves with no signs of wilting, slime or dark spots on edges. Check greens brought in bunches for insects.
Avoid storing greens near fruits that produce ethylene gases (like apples) as this will increase brown spots on leaves and cause spoilage.
Fresh spinach is one of the most popular raw salad greens. Its dark green color indicates a highly nutritious, low calorie source of vitamins A and C. One cup raw spinach has about 10 calories and approximately 60 percent of the recommended daily allowance for vitamin A.
Stored in the refrigerator crisper drawer, it should last 3 to 4 days. Lettuce is an important cool-season vegetable crop that tolerates light frost, but intense sunlight and high summer temperatures can cause seed stalk formation and bitter flavors. Lettuce does well in hotbeds during the winter months and in cold frames n the spring and late fall. For more information on growing lettuce, see Home Vegetable Gardening in Kentucky, ID128, 2011.

Spring Harvest Salad
5 cups torn spring leaf lettuce
2 1/2 cups spinach leaves
1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup feta cheese crumbles
1/2 cup unsalted sliced almonds

Dressing:
4 teaspoons lemon juice
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Kentucky honey
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Combine leaf lettuce and spinach leaves with sliced strawberries, blueberries and green onion in a large salad bowl.
2. Prepare dressing by whisking together the lemon juice, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey and salt; pour over lettuce mixture and toss to coat.
3. Sprinkle salad with feta cheese and sliced almonds.
4. Serve immediately.

Yield: 8, 1 cup servings.
Nutrition Analysis:
130 calories, 9 g fat, 1.5 g sat fat, 240 mg sodium, 12 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 7 g sugar,
3 g protein.

Source: www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov.

Joan Martin is a consumer and family sciences agent with the Anderson County Extension.