What friend see: Brown dots on your lettuce, particularly along the reduced parts of the ribs. What that is: Russet spotting! Eat or toss: Eat! This is harmless (for you!), despite the lettuce might rot sooner. How around salad because that dinner tonight?

So, why is it OK to eat lettuce with “freckles”?

Many types of create give turn off invisible vapors of ethylene gas. Ethylene occurs naturally in plants and also prompts fruit to soften and sweeten. Usually speaking, it reasons aging.

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The problem is the if neighboring produce is exposed to the gas, it deserve to hasten ripening or otherwise influence quality. Lettuce isn’t a fruit so that doesn’t “ripen”, yet it is an especially sensitive to ethylene emitted by any type of gassy neighbors. Also low concentration can cause problems. I beg your pardon brings united state to the weird tiny dots you see on the lettuce pictured above.

The condition is dubbed “russet spotting.” Ethylene reasons the lettuce to produce details compounds which lead to those brown spots. The lettuce is still safe to eat, despite make certain to give it a great rinse. Those spots signal the cells have actually been weakened, make the lettuce a touch friendlier to any type of pathogens that happen to be nearby. And prioritize eating this lettuce; the brown spots suggest an increased rotting schedule.

Ethylene exposure can occur at house or before the lettuce gets to the supermarket

You deserve to reduce the hazard of russet spotting by save ethylene-releasing produce, choose apples, bananas and avocados, away from lettuce. But sometimes the exposure is the end of her control. The can take place on the shipment truck, if, for example, her lettuce is packed near ethylene gas releasers.

It’s no fair to solely blame other foods items though: lettuce produces some ethylene itself. Studies have found that iceberg lettuce produces more ethylene after ~ it’s bruised or cut, making it still an ext susceptible to russet spotting.

Another risk factor, oddly enough, is exhaust. Gasoline engines and also propane-powered forklifts, i beg your pardon you could easily find in a create warehouse, likewise emit ethylene.

Still more risk determinants for russet spotting include harvesting lettuce when it’s end mature, overfill oxygen exposure, and too-cold or too-warm storage. By and large, however, ethylene is the main culprit.

While yes sir not lot you deserve to do to ensure that your lettuce didn’t share air v a propane-powered forklift or carpool with a bunch that bananas, you deserve to follow guidelines, prefer those at EatRight.org, to arrange your refrigerator with broad berth in between the create that will release ethylene and also the develop that’s most likely to react poorly to the gas.

Fridges don’t reason spots on lettuce

And, simply to cover our bases, the problem is not the fridge itself. Reportedly a variety of people have actually blamed your fridges for russet spotting, prompting GE to keep in mind that brownish reddish spots are not caused by refrigerator malfunctions.

Use ethylene to your advantage

And, while the gas has actually an icky consequence for lettuce, girlfriend can likewise use it to her advantage. If you ever want to accelerate ripening, simply stash your fruit next to an ethylene emitter. Placed a banana and an avocado together in a noodle or paper bag and also odds are an excellent that her avocado will soften faster.

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Russet Spotting in Lettuce. Inspection Section. Alaska division of farming newsletter. Feb. 27, 2009.