Lettuce is generally classified into four basic types and one of which is butter lettuce or butterhead.
As the name suggests, butterhead lettuces are varieties of lettuce that form loose, round heads. They are some of the best-looking lettuces, as they look like a beautiful flower with their loose arrangement of leaves. Besides the pretty looks, they’re also known for their soft and velvety texture and sweet and buttery flavor that melts in your mouth. While most of them are green in color, you can also find it in red. The shape, flavor profile, and texture of the red butter lettuce is the same as green butterhead. The only difference is that green butterhead is available all-year-round while red butter lettuce is only available in the spring and summer months.
Butterhead lettuce originated from the Mediterranean basin. Over time, hybrids were developed from the original genetic line. In the United States, the two best-known varieties are Bibb and Boston lettuce. That is why some call it interchangeably. But, how can you tell the difference between the two? Well, Bibb is smaller than Boston, making it popular on fine gourmet specialties. On the other hand, the leaves of Boston have a light green color and they are wider too.
Species: L. Sativa
Binomial Name: Lactuca Sativa L. var. capitata
Butterhead Lettuce Trivia
- John Bibb was the one who developed Bibb lettuce. He crossed the variety from Boston lettuce, while he was in Kentucky in the 1850s.
- Butterhead lettuce has similar effects to opium. The milky fluid that its stem secretes has sedative properties. Thus, it was prescribed to treat insomnia, palpitations, and intestinal spasms back in the days. In fact, one emperor tortured his guests by serving them butterhead lettuce as an appetizer. Since nodding off in front of his majesty is prohibited, his guests were forced to fight off their sleepiness for several hours.
- Butterhead lettuce was associated with sexual potency during the Roman and Egyptian times. It claims to increase the stamina, so they took advantage of it, along with some of its medicinal qualities.