Celtuce (Lactuca sativa var. asparagina)

Celtuce (Lactuca sativa var. asparagina, augustana, or angustata) is a cultivar of lettuce in the family Asteraceae, originating from southern China. Celtuce is named after its unique combination of characteristics, the celery-like stalks and the lettuce-like leaves. Celtuce is very popular in China, where it is known as wosun or woju. Other common names include asparagus lettuce, stem lettuce, celery lettuce, Stemuretasu, and Kaki-Jisha.

Celtuce is grown mainly for its thick, crispy, and tender central stem. The stems are usually harvested when they are about 15-25 cm high, and a diameter of 3-4 cm. The outer leaves resemble loose leaf lettuce, but are a lighter green. The young leaves can be used as lettuce in salads or used in stir-fry. However, the leaves become unpalatable and bitter rather quickly, due to the formation of a milky sap. Stems cut too late will be stringy at the base. The fibrous layer, however, can be easily removed with a potato peeler.

Before consuming the stem, be sure to peel the outer skin, to remove the portion containing the bitter sap. The soft, translucent green central core is moist, crispy, mildly flavored with a slight bitter taste. It may be eaten fresh, or sliced, diced and stir-fry with meat, poultry or fish. In China, Celtuce is used in soups or is pickled.

Celtuce is a cool weather crop, and the seeds germinate poorly when the temperature is high. The optimum germination temperature is 15-20C. Most Celtuce are sensitive to bolting in hot summer.

Celtuce (Lactuca sativa var. asparagina)Celtuce (Lactuca sativa var. asparagina)
Author: Downtowngal (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)

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