Baby your spinach leaves – they’re tender
Sometimes I amaze myself by taking my own advice! Recently I blogged about using the freezer to preserve a bumper crop of fresh garden produce. I didn’t realize it at the time, but after leaving town for just ten days this spring I would return to a huge crop of spinach...and it was in danger of bolting.
Here’s how I saved about eight pounds of a delicious, beautiful spinach harvest with freezing. Basically: snip, wash, blanch, chill, freeze.
There are some special handling considerations with spinach, among all the greens, that will make for the best results. After all, spinach leaves are delicate, and bruising the leaves gets the decomposition process started right away. That can lead to waste or to a bad-tasting product.
Here’s how to baby your spinach harvest:
- Snip. Don’t pull or twist off the leaves, or pull the stalks out of the ground. Instead, use kitchen scissors and snip each leaf with a little stem attached. Collect loosely in a large strainer or colander.
- Bathe the leaves. Don’t spray or wash the leaves to remove dust. Instead, fill the kitchen sink with plenty of cold water, then submerge the spinach leaves and gently rinse them by lifting. Dust and dirt will sink to the bottom. Shake the leaves dry and then put them into a pot with some boiling water.
- It’s important to blanch the leaves for 2-3 minutes in boiling water to stop enzyme action. Otherwise, the leaves will continue to lose flavor and nutrition in the freezer.
- Chill. Immediately submerge the blanched spinach in a basin of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain.
- Now freeze. I used three kinds of containers: muffin tins, a heavy freezer container, and several plastic freezer bags. With the muffin tins, I froze small quantities of spinach for two hours, and then put them all in a gallon freezer bag for individual use.
The “shelf life” of frozen vegetables is six months or so. Don’t forget to use your spinach.
It’s good for you.
Written by Sow True Seed Garden Ambassador for WNC, Nan Chase:
Nan Chase gardens in Asheville, N.C., specializing in perennial herbs, alliums of all sorts, greens, and sweet crabapples. She is the author of Eat Your Yard! and co-author of Drink the Harvest. Follow her @drinktheharvest.