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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

What Happens to the Regrown Romaine?

I never imagined the degree to which my post on regrowing romaine would capture people's imagination.  It is well on the way to being the most popular post I've written, along with the post on the fleece unquilt.  This makes me happy, because, taken together, it indicates that there are a lot of people interested in making the most of things that others would throw away.

So, here are some answers to questions I've received from readers:

Q: Do you have to regrow your romaine heart in dirt?

A: The post on regrowing romaine has been picked up by several other blogs, and many of them indicate you can regrow a romaine heart in water.  You probably can.  However, I choose to put the cut off heart in soil because plants generate some of their nutrients from the soil.  I want the healthiest product available, so it's no big deal to just jam the heart into some soil and watch it grow.

Q: Does the heart root?

A:  Yes, if you place the heart in dirt, it will start to develop roots.  This allows it to grow longer and produce healthier leaves.

Q: If you cut off the new leaves, will it keep producing more?

A:  Probably not.  None of the specimens I've tried have kept growing after I've cut off the new growth. I think this stands to reason.  Romaine is not a "cut and come again" style of green that you can trim and expect to regenerate.  Instead, romaine is a head lettuce, and the intention is for the grower to cut the head at the end of the season.  We are getting something of a "bonus" head of romaine by using this trick.

Q: What is the flavor like?

A:  Pretty good, actually.  Sometimes, I find that the new head is just slightly more bitter than the "mother" that it is coming from, but I find that appealing.  I like greens with some bite to them.  If you try a leaf and decide that you have a bit too much astringency for your taste, you can always use the resulting head as a "pot herb," stirring chopped up leaves into rice or soup just before serving. That adds some much-needed nutrients to your meal while changing texture and flavor to be more mild.
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