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Fenberg lettuce is medium to large in size, averaging 22-24 centimeters in diameter, and grows in an upright fashion, like most romaine varieties, with an overall vase-like shape. The dense, uniformly shaped heads have thick, glossy, medium-green leaves with serrated margins and the inner leaves are pale green. The leaves also have prominent veining and are crisp, smooth, and pliable. Fenburg lettuce is crunchy and does have some of the bitter characteristics of romaine, but it also has a sweetness that is unique to the cultivar.
Fenberg lettuce is available in the fall in cooler climates and is available year-round in warmer climates.
Fenberg lettuce, botanically classified as Lactuca sativa var. longifolia, is a mini, novelty variety of romaine that is a member of the Asteraceae family. Also referred to as Mini romaine, Fenberg lettuce is adaptable to many climates and can grow 16-20 centimeters in height. Fenburg lettuce is known for its resistance to disease, is tolerant to a calcium deficiency called tip-burn which makes the tips of the inner leaves brown, is slow to bolt, and can last for a long period of time in the field which makes it popular among both small and large farms. Fenberg lettuce is favored for its unique sweet flavor is predominately used in fresh preparations to showcase its crisp, tender texture.
Fenberg lettuce contains fiber, vitamins A, K, and C, potassium, iron, manganese, and eighteen essential amino acids. It also has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and immune-boosting properties.
Fenberg lettuce is best suited for raw applications, and the leaves can be used whole or chopped without altering flavor or texture. The leaves are predominately used in salads with nuts, fruit, and cheeses, as a bed of greens for presenting meat, or as a garnish for appetizers and rolls. The leaves can also be used whole as a lettuce cup for fillings, dips, or tacos. Fenburg lettuce pairs well with poultry, bacon, duck, grilled steak, smoked fish, pork, dill, scallions, garlic, butternut squash, radish, and peas. It will keep up to one week when stored unwashed in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.
Fenberg lettuce, often considered uncommon in the marketplace, has recently been showing up on menus at trendy restaurants in the southeastern United States. Mixed into a dynamic, mesculin salad with Belgian endive, red oak, dill, shallots, radicchio, frisee, and curly lettuce, Fenberg lettuce is served at Second Empire, which is a critically acclaimed restaurant located in a historic house in Raleigh, North Carolina. Fenberg lettuce is also among the four types of lettuces planted at a community farm near Nashville, Tennessee that grows food for the Second Harvest Food Bank in Nashville.
Fenberg lettuce is believed to be native to North America, but the exact origin and history are unknown. Today Fenberg lettuce can be found at specialty grocers and select farmers markets in the United States.