4 Astonishing Reasons Behind Lettuce Turning Red


While making a scrumptious salad, you might reach your refrigerator for fresh green lettuce. But as soon as you find red lettuce, your appetite might go out the window. Moreover, you might even wonder if it’s safe to eat it.

Furthermore, you can even end up asking yourself the reasons for lettuce turning red.

Well, if that’s the scenario, then you came to the right place. That’s because we’ll answer your question one by one. And don’t worry, we won’t miss out on any detail. So, shall we start then?

Photo of lettuce growing in rows
Photo by Smilleus

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What are the Primary Reasons Behind Lettuce Turning Red?

Just like other edible items lettuce is safe to eat. However, plants turning into an unusual color can be a bit concerning. And coming across red lettuce is common for most people. 

Now, this can happen for several reasons. And we’ll get to all that in a minute. However, before we do, you should know that some lettuce is naturally red.

This happens due to a pigment known as anthocyanins. But other than that, some other external factors can also turn your lettuce red. So, let’s look into them, shall we?

Reason 1- The Absorption of Ethylene Gas

Do you see all the cars and trucks roaming around in the street? Well, of course, you do; they are everywhere. But you might not know that they exhale a certain gas known as the ethylene gas.

Even some healthy fruits like apples, bananas, and peaches excrete this gas. In fact, they produce more ethylene gas than a car.

But what does this have to do with lettuce? Well, when these gases are released into the atmosphere, they tend to roam around freely.

As soon as the gas reaches near the lettuce leaves, they absorb this poisonous gas. Now, when they enter into the lettuce, this gas spreads throughout.

Once the gas is inside the lettuce, it accelerates the aging rate. That’s when you start seeing rusty red spots all over the lettuce. 

Reason 2- Oxidation of the Green Lettuce

However, if you see red roots, then you can be confident that it’s due to oxidation. Now, you might wonder how leaves can oxidize. Well, they certainly can, and this is because of the iron present inside them.

Yep, the lettuce contains a small portion of iron in it. And when this iron is oxidized due to air, it starts to affect the lettuce’s chlorophyll level.

As the green pigment gives lettuce, its color starts to get affected; you see redness in the lettuce. However, this doesn’t happen overnight.

It takes about a week before you can finally start to see the red pigments popping in. And the longer it’s left like that, the darker it’ll get. Slowly the entire lettuce will turn red and will be too soggy.

Reason 3- Damage of the Healthy Cells

Did you know that the red lettuce is not fresh? Yes, their abnormality is a sign of staleness. But what causes this nutritious vegetable to go bad?

Well, we might get a bit scientific here, so bear with us. So, the lettuce has an infinite number of cells in it, right?

Yeah, of course, they do. Now, the main issue is that when you don’t take care of them properly, the healthy cells start to get damaged.

And this can happen for a number of reasons. Like too much fertilizer, too little water, or even the wrong amount of sunlight. Whatever the reason is, the result is always the same.

The cells end up getting damaged, and the lettuce starts to turn red.

Reason 4- A Cut by a Rusty Blade

One more thing to be wary about is a rusty blade. Yep, even the blade can cause your lettuce to turn red.

Imagine this; you cut half your lettuce and put the other half in the refrigerator. But you use a rusty blade to cut the lettuce.

What happens is that the rust gets transferred to the lettuce. And then it slowly causes the entire lettuce to rot.

The saddest part is that the knives are never 100 percent rust-free. Moreover, if you regularly cut lettuce your knife will get covered by the moisture from the lettuce.

And even if you clean up the knife, it’ll inevitably rust. So, one way around this is to use a plastic lettuce cutter knife.

ZYLISS Lettuce Knife

Can You Eat Red Lettuce?

The red lettuce is usually soggy and slimy. But that doesn’t mean you can’t eat it. In fact, unless you smell an off-putting odor, you can have it for lunch.

However, you do need to keep in mind that the red lettuce won’t be as good as the green ones. They’ll taste worse and have less nutritional value.

Even so, before eating the rusty red vegetable, make sure it isn’t fully rotten. It never hurts to be careful.

But if you want to preserve the lettuce, you can do a certain trick. Now, we must warn you that you’ll be losing some part of the lettuce. However, it won’t rust or turn red.

Alright, so for this trick, all you have to do is use your hand to push hard against the back of the lettuce. By that we mean, the root of the lettuce. This will make the core of the lettuce come out.

And if you throw away that part, the rest of the lettuce will stay fresh for an extended period of time. Which means you won’t have to worry about it for quite a while.

To Conclude

In short, make sure you grow the lettuce in the right environment to prevent it from shifting colors. And do try to eat it up before you see the lettuce turning red.

That’ll give you the right amount of nutrients that your body needs. Anyway, that’s about it for now. Have a nice day. Stay safe. Tata!

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Celina Nance

It’s been a life-long wish of Celina Nance to have a lawn full of colorful flower beds. But living in Arizona city, that seems kind of impossible. But Celina Nance didn’t stop and created a full-form balcony garden instead. And he often shares stuff that he does/solves/innovates throughout the journey.

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