Spinach is a mild tasting vegetable and is one of the most used vegetables in smoothies. Spinach can also be eaten raw, steamed or sautéed. It is affordable and easily accessible. Spinach is a good source of antioxidants, protein, fiber, iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium and zinc. It also has great anti-aging properties. Adding spinach to you diet is sure to benefit your health. Spinach helps to reduce inflammation, improves eye health, maintains blood pressure and blood sugar levels, strengthens muscle, supports skin, heart and brain health, boosts metabolism, supports digestive system, helps with detoxification and treats and prevents cancer. With all these benefits, who wouldn’t want to consume spinach? It is common knowledge that vegetables spoil easily, with no exception to spinach. If spinach is not properly stored it can go bad. It is a good idea to know how to freeze spinach, so as to extend its shelf life.
Freezing spinach does not significantly interfere with its nutritional value. The nutritional value will be the same whether frozen or not. Before freezing spinach ensure that it’s not already gone bad. Spoiled spinach leaves are darker in color than usual, sometimes yellow, the leaves tend to be very moist nearly gooey and will often have a strong unpleasant smell. You may store spinach in your refrigerator as well but the shelf life will be far less. Typically, when fresh spinach is properly stored in your refrigerator, it can last around 5-7 days while spinach properly stored in your freezer can last anywhere between 10-12 months. There are three simple approaches on how to freeze spinach to later use in your smoothies. You may simply freeze spinach leaves, freeze spinach puree or freeze blanched spinach. The steps for each method are detailed below.
Freeze Spinach Leaves – Method #1
Step 1: Remove Bad Leaves and Woody Stems
Thoroughly go through spinach leaves and remove bad leaves and woody stems. Get rid of spinach leaves which have fungal spots and are yellow or darker in color. Spinach leaves darker in color are usually bad and has a slimy feel. Once you’ve gotten rid of the bad leaves, cut off the thick woody stems from the good leaves with a sharp knife or kitchen shear. So place spinach on cutting cut and simply cut off the thick stems as seen in the photo. Not all stems have to be cut off, as the stems on small younger spinach are soft and tender. Normally mature spinach has thick woody stems.
Step 2: Wash and Dry Spinach
Wash spinach leaves attentively. Singly wash spinach leaves to thoroughly remove all dirt and soil. You may wash spinach leaves by placing it in a bowl with water or you may use running water; preferably use running water. Keep washing until all soil and dirt are removed. Once all the dirt or soil is removed, it’s time to dry the spinach leaves. Moisture may cause spinach leaves to spoil faster so ensure that you thoroughly dry spinach. You can let spinach leaves air dry or wrap leaves in paper towel or a kitchen towel and gently squeeze, tap or blot to remove moisture. You can also place spinach leaves on paper towel or kitchen towel for some time so as to soak up the moisture. Before moving on to the next step, ensure that leaves are completely dry.
Step 3: Package Spinach for Storage
Once spinach is fully dry, it’s time to package your spinach for storage. You may choose to store spinach in airtight freezer bag/s or container/s. Using airtight freezer bag/s or container/s to store spinach leaves will help to extend its shelf life. When packing spinach in your storage package, tightly pack leaves, this helps to lessen excess air. If you’re using airtight freezer bag/s to store spinach leaves, ensure to get rid of all the air. Air will cause oxidation, which breaks down nutrients and causes freezer burns, another factor which will determine the shelf life of the packaged spinach. You can expel the air by using a vacuum bag sealer or manually suck out all the air using a straw. If you choose to use a straw, place straw to one side of the airtight freezer bag and seal the bag up to the point where the straw is placed. Now suck all the air from the bag. Once all the air is expelled, quickly remove straw and finish sealing the airtight freezer bag.
Step 4: Label Package and Place in Freezer
Before placing the packaged spinach in your freezer, use a marker or a pen to label airtight freezer bag/s or container/s. Label the storage package with the word spinach (optional) and the date in which it was placed for freezing. It is especially important to label the package with the storage date as this will inform you in the future if spinach is still good for consumption. You may also label the package with the word spinach if you have other vegetables in your freezer stored in airtight freezer bag/s or container/s. Once you’re finished labelling your package, immediately place the packaged spinach in your freezer.
The frozen kale leaves method is perfect for smoothies, soups or you may sauté it.
Freeze Spinach Puree – Method #2
Step 1: Remove Bad Leaves and Woody Stems
Carefully go through spinach leaves and remove bad leaves which are discolored (yellow or darker in color) and have fungal spots. You may also remove thick woody stems from the good leaves by using a sharp knife or kitchen shear. Not all spinach leaves will have a thick stem. Thick stems are normally found on mature spinach leaves while younger leaves will have small soft stems. In such case where the stems are soft and tender, you can leave stems as is, if desired. As seen in the photo, place spinach on cutting board or on a flat area and cut off thick stems.
Step 2: Wash Spinach
Thoroughly clean spinach by carefully washing leaves to remove dirt and soil. Singly wash spinach leaves so that you can identify hidden dirt or soil. Either put spinach leaves in a bowl, swish them around and clean leaves or use running water to clean leaves. You can even put spinach leaves to soak in cool water so that the dirt or soil easily slides off.
Step 3: Put Washed Spinach in Blender and Blend
Pour sufficient water into your blender. Use sufficient water that will be able to consistently blend the quantity of spinach you’ve prepared. Or you may pour water into your blender in small increments. Add spinach to blender and blend for a few seconds until spinach is completely blended and has a smooth texture. If the spinach puree is too thick, add more water or if spinach puree is too watery, add more spinach. Blend again or repeat process until a smooth consistency is reached.
Step 4: Pour Spinach Puree into Container and Freeze
Once the spinach puree is as consistent and smooth as you want, pour mixture into a container. You may use ice cube tray/s, muffins tin/s or any freezer container/s. If you choose to use ice cube tray/s, muffins tin/s or any other similar molds, don’t fill each compartment all the way to the top. Instead, when pouring spinach puree fill each section about three quarters of the way, this will give your puree space to expand. Place the container with the spinach puree in your freezer and let it freeze until puree is as solid as ice. Try your best not to let the frozen puree sit in your freezer for more than 4 hours as your frozen spinach puree will be prone to freezer burn.
Step 5: Place Frozen Puree into Airtight Package, Label and Freeze
As soon as the spinach puree is frozen, immediately remove from freezer. Remove frozen puree from container and place in an airtight package that will not be prone to any freezer burn. You may use airtight freezer bag/s or any airtight freezer container/s. If you choose to put your frozen spinach puree in airtight freezer bag/s then ensure that all the air is expelled before putting it in your freezer. Air will help to determine the shelf life of your frozen spinach puree so if air is not properly expelled, it will cause oxidation leading to loss of nutrients and freezer burn. You can expel the air by using a vacuum food bag sealer or by using a straw. If you decide to use a straw, place straw to one side of the freezer bag, seal bag up to the point where the straw is placed and suck all the air from the bag. Once all the air is removed, quickly remove straw and finish sealing freezer bag.
Use a marker or pen to label your airtight package. Label the package with the word spinach (optional) and the freezing date. Labelling the package with the freezing date is essentially so that you’ll have an idea of how long the frozen puree is good for.
The frozen spinach puree method is perfect for smoothies and soups.
Freeze Blanched Spinach – Method #3
Step 1: Remove Bad Leaves and Thick Stems from Spinach and Wash
Go through all spinach leaves singly and remove all bad leaves which are discolored (yellow or deep dark green) or have fungal spots. Remove thick stems from good leaves by using a sharp knife or kitchen shear. If desired, you may leave some stems intact as not all spinach leaves stems are thick. Some spinach leaves have small soft tender stems, typically younger spinach. Mature spinach leaves have thicker stems.
Singly wash all spinach leaves carefully to remove all dirt and soil. By washing leaves singly you’ll be able to easily spot any hidden dirt or soil and remove it. Preferably wash spinach leaves using running water but you may place leaves in a bowl and swish them around to clean leaves.
Step 2: Bring Water to Boil and Add Spinach
Fill pot with water. Pot should be large enough to hold the quantity of spinach you’ve prepared. Fill pot with enough water to cover spinach. Place cover on the pot with water and set your stove to provide enough heat so that water boils quickly. Once water starts boiling, reduce heat and put spinach to boil for no more than 2 minutes. If you should boil spinach for over 2 minutes, loss of nutrients may occur and spinach may be slimy so aim for 2 minutes max.
Step 3: Add Spinach to Ice Water
Immediately turn off heat once spinach has boiled for 2 minutes. Take a bowl and fill it with ice water. You may even add ice to the water if water isn’t as cold as you desire. Remove spinach leaves from the pot and place them in the bowl with ice water. Keep spinach in ice water for about 3 minutes. Doing so will stop the cooking process and stop the loss of nutrients.
Step 4: Drain and Dry Spinach
Remove spinach from the bowl with cold water and place in another bowl. Ensure to drain off excess moisture. Moisture will cause spinach leaves to be spoilt at a faster rate so ensure that spinach is fully dry before moving on to the next step. So to fully dry spinach you can either let it air dry or you may use paper towels or kitchen towels. You can combined both methods for better results. If using paper towels or kitchen towels, gently squeeze or blot spinach leaves to remove moisture. Or you may place spinach leaves on paper towels or kitchen towels for some time so that the towel soaks up the moisture. Ensure that leaves are fully dry.
Step 5: Package Spinach for Storage
Once spinach is fully dry, get out your storage container. You may use airtight freezer bag/s or container/s. Using airtight freezer bag/s or container/s to store spinach leaves will help to extend its shelf life. Tightly pack spinach leaves to ensure that all the air is expelled. If all the air is not removed this may cause oxidation, where nutrients are broken down and spinach leaves will be prone to freezer burn. If using airtight freezer bag/s to stored spinach leaves use a vacuum bag sealer or a straw to suck out the air. If you decide to use a straw, place straw to one end of freezer bag and seal bag up to the point where the straw is. Now suck out all the air. Once all the air is removed, quickly seal freezer bag/s.
Step 6: Label Package and Place in Freezer
Get out a pen or marker and label package before placing it in the freezer. You may label the package with the word spinach (optional) but definitely add the freezing date on the package. Adding the freezing date will be used as a reminder of when you placed spinach in the freezer and for how long it’s good for. Label the package with the word spinach if you have other freezer bag/s or container/s in your freezer. Once you’re done labelling your package, place in freezer.
The blanch method is perfect for smoothies, soups or you may sauté it. Blanching helps to preserve the color and taste of spinach.
Having a surplus of spinach may lead you to want to store spinach instead of having to throw it out. It is common knowledge that consuming spoiled food is not healthy for the body. So taking the time to properly store spinach can prove to be very beneficial, both for your health and your pocket. You may end up saving money seeing that you no longer have to throw away excess spinach because the shelf life has expired. Preferably, when buying spinach or any other vegetables, don’t get carried away and over shop by purchasing too much. Purchase enough to serve you for at most a week. Also ensure that you check the “best before” date on the spinach package, so you’ll know how long you have before the spinach goes bad so that you can apply the methods mentioned to extend its shelf life. Spinach becomes soft and mushy when you freeze and defrost it, so it’s best to use your frozen spinach in smoothies, soups or sauté it instead of using it in salads.
How do you store spinach? Let me know in the comment field below. You may also share your thoughts or ask any questions.