One of my favorite lettuces has somewhat of an identity crisis. In its native Austria this heirloom lettuce goes by the name ‘Forellenschluss’, which means ‘speckled like a trout’s back’. Fedco Seed traces it back to 1793, but says it was developed in Germany. Meanwhile, here in America it’s usually called ‘Spotted Trout’, though some seed catalogs list it as ‘Freckles’. However, it’s not in any way related to the Amish butterhead called ‘Speckles’. Are you confused yet? I know I am!
I generally just call this lettuce ‘Spotted Trout’, which is how it was listed at Hudson Valley Seed Library where I first bought my seed. Regardless of what you call it, this lettuce is a beautiful and tasty romaine that has apple green leaves mottled with reddish specks. Though classified as a romaine, this variety has soft buttery leaves that lack the crisp rib common to most romaine types. Which is not a bad thing at all in my book. But like most romaine lettuce varieties, it does have an upright growth habit, which makes it a good choice for intensive plantings.
‘Spotted Trout’ performs well for me in both spring and fall, and it usually overwinters here when protected by a cold frame. To say that it is hardy would be an understatement. It has survived temperatures near 5°F here with only the light protection of my Agribon-covered cold frame. But hardiness is not the only thing going for it. It has a mild taste and tender texture. And it is also slow to bolt to flower, which is a good thing unless you are trying to save the seed, which I was able to do last year.
The color in this variety is quite variable. Some plants are more speckled than others, with some having very few speckles at all. Frank Morton at Wild Garden Seeds has done some selections on this variety to try and stabilize the coloring, and has released his own version called ‘Flashy Trout Back’. I include mention of it here (and a photo) because it is not really a different variety, but a result of his hard work to save seed from the best colored plants each year. And his selection is definitely more colorful, though I don’t think it tastes any different from the original ‘Forellenschluss’.
Right now I’ve got ‘Spotted Trout’ plants growing in the greenhouse. They are ready to harvest as we need them, though they aren’t quite full sized yet. I started some more seeds this week for a late spring crop that should be ready before really hot weather gets here. The bunch in the below photo was used for Chalupas I made this week, which is a dish with pork and pinto beans served over lettuce and corn tortilla chips. It’s sort of like a taco in a bowl, only better I think.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this Saturday Spotlight, and I’ll be back soon with another variety. Until then, Happy Growing from Happy Acres!
To see my other Saturday Spotlights, visit the Variety Spotlights page.