Blanching leafy greens like spinach softens the leaves, intensifies the color, and heightens its flavor. Be sure to buy lots because a huge bag of spinach cooks down dramatically to a wad the size of a small ball.
|1. Fill a large pot with water, bring it to a boil, and add your packaged or separated, pre-washed spinach leaves.|
|2. Blanch the spinach for approximately 30 seconds—or until they turn a brilliant green.|
|3. Remove the spinach from the pot with a slotted spoon and drain.|
|4. Plunge the leaves into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.|
|6. Notice how the spinach should look when you’ve completed the blanching process. One large bag has reduced to a small ball of leaves.|
|Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)|
|Servings: 6 servings|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 3g||4%|
|Saturated Fat 0g||2%|
|Total Carbohydrate 12g||4%|
|Dietary Fiber 2g||9%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
Appetizers and side dishes play a key role in Korean cuisine, and this recipe has everything you need to make a particular tasty side—seasoned spinach “salad.” Spinach was the vegetable that Popeye relied on to stay strong, and for good reason as the food is chock full of iron. With more of the nutrient than some animal proteins, spinach is one of the heartiest plant-based foods you can eat.
The other great thing about this spinach salad is that if you don’t want to serve it as a side, you can use it as part of other well-known main dishes in Korea. Seasoned spinach salad may be used to go along with chapchae (stir-fried noodles), kimbap (rice and seaweed rolls) and bibimbap (rice with mixed vegetables).
Like many other Korean dishes, this side is also easily customizable. If you want to use more or less of any of the ingredients, depending on your unique tastes, feel free to do so. Those with health concerns, for example, may want to use less soy sauce (or a low-sodium version) or less sugar.
This week, we’ve rescued lots of leafy salad greens, as well as some of the most versatile veg – Spinach. Here’s our guest-chef and ODDBOX friend Georgia Levy (@georgia_levy_) to guide us through the best ways to store, prep, and cook spinach:
Spinach will last 5-7 days in a sealed plastic bag in the fridge. To extend its life, blanch briefly, drain and allow to cool. Squeeze out excess water, shape into balls and freeze. Add frozen to your dishes or defrost before using.
Discard any yellow or slimey-looking leaves. Wash thoroughly and spin dry if using in salad. There’s no need to remove stalks before cooking as these add nice texture.
Add spinach leaves to boiling salted water. As soon as it wilts, 1-2 minutes (baby spinach needs less time), drain into a colander, pushing it with the back of a spoon to force out excess water. This can now be braised or frozen.
Whizz up blanched spinach with a tiny bit of raw garlic, feta, Greek yoghurt, spring onion and lemon juice. Great with pita and vegetables.
Chop blanched spinach finely and combine with ricotta, Parmesan and nutmeg and use as ravioli filling or between lasagne sheets, topped with tomato sauce. Also great stirred through spaghetti with anchovy breadcrumbs
Fry shallots and garlic in butter, then add some blanched spinach and double cream. Serve immediately or transfer to a baking dish, top with parmesan and breadcrumbs and place in oven for 20 minutes
For the perfect summer salad, combine raw with watermelon chunks, grilled halloumi, mint, finely sliced red onion and chopped chilli
Fry onion, ginger and garlic with mustard seeds, cumin, turmeric and chilli, stir in cooked potato chunks, spinach and a splash of water. Cover and cook for a few minutes then serve with chapatis
Squeeze and massage raw spinach with a little salt until it breaks down, then combine with leeks fried in butter, feta and beaten eggs. Pour into a baking dish lined with ½ packet of filo pastry sheets, then place the remaining sheets on top, brush with butter then place in a 200C oven for 25-30 minutes.
Do me a favor, please, and take a look at the top of this page where is says “Home, Who I Am, Preserving. ” This post along with all the other ones I will write this summer and fall that have to do with preserving will be found on the Preserving page (there are already several links there). I am hoping this will be a resource for those of you who are interested in learning how to can and freeze produce this summer. My goal is to show lots of pictures of the process along with step by step instructions. Here we go!
You have three choices when it comes to freezing spinach. You can blanch it by plunging washed spinach in boiling water for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, then drain it well and freeze it. You can steam spinach for about a minute, drain it and freeze it or you can choose the method I use which is to freeze spinach raw.
Blanching and steaming spinach wilts it and therefore saves on space if space is an issue for you. I like freezing mine raw. Even though it takes up a bit more space, there is very little prep work at both ends (prepping and using) and this is a good thing.
Green in the winter months is important. I don’t worry much about scurvy. I worry about food boredom. Spinach in the winter helps with that.
Freezing Spinach Raw (my version)
Place fresh spinach in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Using your hands, pretend you are a washing machine and your spinach is the clothes. Agitate the water to loosen the dirt and any insects still hanging around. Drain and repeat.
Place a clean kitchen towel in another large bowl (or out on your counter). Tear the spinach by the handfuls into small pieces, discarding any stems you come across. Place the torn spinach on the towel. Cover spinach with the towel and now pretend you are drying your child or dog’s hair. Don’t worry if you scrunch it up. Your goal is to get as much of the water off the spinach as you can.
Fill a gallon zip lock bag with the clean, torn and dried spinach. Tap the bag on the counter to help it settle and go ahead and shove as much in as you can, like you’re stuffing a feather pillow that you want firm. Once the bag is full, close the bag almost all the way, then lay it flat and press out as much air as you can, like you’re deflating an air mattress. It’s okay to press down on the spinach, too. Now, zip it up and toss it in your freezer.
Dark, leafy greens are so healthy and great in green smoothies and in hearty dishes. You want to make sure to have them available year round. It is really easy to do so by preserving them! Here is a how-to freeze greens.
What greens can be frozen?
I’m pretty sure all edible greens can be frozen: kale, swiss chard, spinach, sorrel, beet greens, collard greens, and more. However, not all of the greens available might benefit you. In our kitchen, we only freeze what we know we would like to use. We do grow kale indoors in the winter, overwintering spinach in early spring, swiss chard and beet greens in the summer and into late fall. This way we always have some yummy greens for a smoothie. This might lead you to the next question:
Why freeze greens?
Even though we grow greens year round, we still like to have some greens in the freezer. There are times where one variety of greens is done and the next hasn’t matured yet. Or the weather outside is so hot, or cold, that going to the freezer seems to be more convenient than going out to harvest. Especially for the breakfast smoothie to have greens ready to go is great.
Also, not all greens can be grown year round. Sorrel is a perennial and makes a very yummy sorrel soup. We love it, but do not care for soups so much during the summer months. Good thing sorrel freezes well, and we can have sorrel soup in the winter instead.
How to freeze greens
Freezing greens is very simple. There are 2 main methods to freeze greens: by blanching them first, or freezing greens raw. I personally prefer raw, but there is a place for blanching also.
Freezing raw greens
Wash the freshly harvested greens and cut them into small (about half an inch) pieces or slices.
This is important: all greens can be frozen raw if you cut them into small bits first. Why is that? Prior to freezing you want to stops enzyme actions in the greens, which can cause loss of flavor, color, and texture. This is normally done by blanching. But it also can be done at least partly by cutting the leaves.
Now put them into a freezer bag or container. Get as much air out as you can. This is easy to do if you roll the bag and then close it. Label and freeze.
Freezing blenched greens
If you want your green leaves to be intact, or you prefer them cut into bigger pieces, you need to blanch the greens prior to freezing. Blanching will stop the enzyme actions and also destroy certain enzymes that make leafy greens bitter.
Wash the freshly harvested greens and blanch them in boiling water. Most greens need to be blanched for 2 minutes, collard greens for 3. Cool and drain immediately. Now put them into a freezer bag or container. Label and freeze.
Note, your greens will shrink immensely. I like to freeze blanched greens portion wise. This way I do not have to cut the frozen greens apart.
Using frozen greens
Frozen greens taste best if you use them right away from the freezer. Do not let them thaw first, they will get very mushy and spoil fast. If you are going to cook them, put them frozen into boiling water or into a hot skillet. Also if you make a smoothie, use the frozen greens. This way they will taste like fresh.
Raw frozen greens are loose, you can take out from your bag as many as you want at the time and they will thaw very fast. Blanched frozen greens tend to make a clump, it is helpful to freeze them in portions you want to use.
What is your favorite way to preserve or use greens?
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Simplicity, Happiness, and DIY Living in the San Juan Islands
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My home is in Skagit county, which is known for how well spinach grows. In my own garden spinach does extremely well, and due to our temperate climate, I can easily grow two harvests per season. By freezing spinach leaves, I can preserve spinach from the garden for use throughout the year. This is a great way to incorporate fresh vegetables into your diet during winter time when fresh vegetables are expensive.
Freezing Spinach From The Garden
Here is a half harvest for freezing spinach leaves from the garden.
Some varieties of spinach have long stems before the main leaf. Most books recommend snipping off the stems, but I don’t see any issue with leaving them on if that is what you prefer. As long as the spinach is harvested before it bolts too far, the stems will be tender and not stringy.
Once a large batch of leaves have been picked and the stems removed (optional), then the larger leaves should be torn up to about the size of a quarter to a silver dollar (1″ to 2″ in diameter). The leaves can then be washed in a colander and dried in a spinner.
Before freezing spinach leaves, blanching spinach or steaming it is best in order to soften the cells. I prefer steaming as it accomplishes the same goal without as much loss in vitamins and minerals, however either is acceptable. Blanching spinach should last two minutes. Here is a great video and article on how to blanch leafy greens:
Freezing Spinach Without Blanching
Freezing spinach without blanching can be done by steaming it for three minutes. This accomplishes the same thing, but you don’t lose as many vitamins and minerals.
By keeping the leaves out of the water, they retain more vitamins and minerals than they would from blanching. At the end of the steaming, it is a good idea to rapidly cool the leaves in ice, just like in blanching. Keep in mind that the less time they spend in the water, the fewer vitamins they’ll leach.
How to Freeze Fresh Spinach
Vacuum pack before freezing spinach leaves. Removing the oxygen gives them a much longer shelf life.
Put 8 ounces of cooked spinach leaves from the garden into an appropriate container. Eight ounces of cooked spinach makes for a great side dish for two to a meal of meat, rice, or beans.
The loss rate of vitamin C was as high as 65% when Chinese cabbage was scalded in 100 ℃ water for 2 minutes, and almost all of vitamin C was lost when blanched for more than 10 minutes. Therefore, proper methods should be adopted to reduce the loss of nutrients.
How to blanch vegetables? 4 skills of blanching vegetables
Add the right amount of vegetables at a time. If there are many dishes, it is suggested to do it in several times to avoid lowering the water temperature. Blanching time should be short to avoid excessive loss of nutrition.
2. When blanching green leafy vegetables, you should not only add salt, but also oil
This can not only prevent the oxidase from destroying chlorophyll, but also keep the bright color of vegetables. Vegetables such as beans and peas are blanched in cold water and refrigerated for many days without sprouting.
3. Don’t cut vegetables before boiling water
Keep the whole shape of vegetables as much as possible to reduce the area of heating and water contact. In the case of more raw materials, it should be fed in batches to ensure that the raw materials are in a higher water temperature.
How to blanch vegetables
4. After blanching, vegetables should be immediately put into cold water to cool down before cooking.
After blanching, the temperature of vegetables is relatively high. After leaving the water, it contacts with oxygen in the air to produce thermal oxygen, which is the continuation of nutrient loss. Therefore, boiled vegetables should be cooled in time. The common method is to use a large amount of cold water or cold air for cooling and heat dissipation, and the latter has less nutrition loss. Which vegetables need blanching to eat? 1. Vegetables containing more oxalic acid
Such as spinach, bamboo shoots, Zizania latifolia, etc., generally speaking, vegetables with a little astringent taste contain more oxalic acid. Excessive intake of oxalic acid will affect the absorption of calcium, zinc and other minerals, and increase the risk of stones. Research shows that vegetables such as spinach and amaranth can remove 40%
70% oxalic acid by boiling water once.
2. Vegetables containing glucosinolates
Mustard vegetables such as kohlrabi contain glucosinolates. Blanched in water and hydrolyzed to produce volatile mustard oil, it tastes better and can promote digestion and absorption.
3. Wild vegetables such as purslane
Wild vegetables may have risks of pesticide residues and pollution by waste water and waste gas. In order to reduce these risks, it is necessary to blanch them before cooking. Blanching wild vegetables such as Portulaca oleracea can completely remove dust and insects and prevent allergy.
How to blanch vegetables
4. Cruciferous vegetables
Such as broccoli, cauliflower and so on after blanching taste better, they contain rich cellulose and are easier to digest.
5. Vegetables containing colchicine
Day lily, also known as day lily, is one of people’s favorite dishes. But daylily contains colchicine. If the human body ingests colchicine, it will be oxidized in human tissues to form colchicine. Colchicine is a kind of highly toxic substance, which can poison the gastrointestinal tract and urinary system of human body and seriously threaten the health. If an adult eats 50-100 grams of fresh day lily at a time, it can cause poisoning.
Toona sinensis contains more nitrate and nitrite, which may form carcinogens in vivo. But blanching Toona sinensis with hot water for about 1 minute can remove more than 2 / 3 of nitrite and nitrate. Therefore, it is better to blanch Toona before cooking.
7. Auricularia auricula
Auricularia auricula will absorb a lot of water when soaking, and boiling water is conducive to the discharge of water. Therefore, there will be no frying when frying. What needs to be reminded is that Auricularia auricula is curly, with many “small grooves”. After blanching, put the Auricularia into the drain net and drain it, and then knock the drain net several times.
Freezing vegetables is one of the easiest ways to reduce food waste, stretch your grocery bill, and save time. If youвЂ™re wondering how to freeze kale (or similar leafy greens like swiss chard , collard greens , or spinach), this post will teach you how, in just a few easy steps.
Well, what a year the first two weeks of 2020 have been.
If you follow me on Instagram , you know weвЂ™ve been dealing with quite a few toddler sleep issues the past several weeks. IвЂ™ve gotten dozens of messages from the Instagram community letting me know that I am not alone. Apparently, this is really common around the age of 3. Add it to the list of things they never tell you before you become a parent! IвЂ™ve been sharing a collection of tips, tricks, and suggestions from other mothers who have (wonderfully) offered their advice, which you can view in my highlights.
But for now, hereвЂ™s what I have to say: IвЂ™m exhausted . Particularly in the first two weeks of the year, when you expect to be rested and rejuvenated, this has been particularly difficult. But another thing they don’t tell you about being a mom is that even when you really don’t want to be responsible, you still have to be. I have to get through the day, do my work, get dinner on the table, and not get sick.
I’ve said it countless times before, but I live for my freezer. There’s almost nothing it can’t do to keep me sane, well-fed, and reasonably nourished during busy or otherwise stressful periods of life – as long as I do a little advance planning during those periods where I do have some time and energy to spare.
Frozen veggies are one of my best secrets to eating healthy when you’re pressed for time, and when I have any excess kale, potatoes, broccoli, or other produce that isn’t going to get eaten before it goes bad
How to Freeze Kale
I often get curly kale or lacinato (dinosaur) kale in my Imperfect Foods box, so thatвЂ™s what I usually freeze. But technically, any bunch of kale that you buy from the farmerвЂ™s market, CSA , or grocery store can be frozen.
If you buy too much fresh kale or you want to eat it slowly (or use it in smoothies, which is what I normally do), you can simply freeze for later use. HereвЂ™s how:
Did you know you could freeze fresh spinach without blanching or cooking it? Yes, it’s true and I’m going to show you how I triple washed two batches of spinach for our April mission meal and froze about 12 cups of spinach for future “cooked” meals.
I begin with the freshly picked spinach. My daughter and I cut quite a bit from our local non-profit garden, called the Lord’s Acre, in our community. This garden provides organic produce to the poor and needy in the community. They also offer garden and food-skills training to all ages. Guess how MOAM is going to help with this mission? This summer, I’m sharing ways to preserve this gorgeous food that’s growing and ways to cook delicious food right beside the garden. Doesn’t this sound intriguing and fun? Click here to read more about this community garden and perhaps if you have a green thumb and love gardening or have your own abundant garden you can gather ideas for helping the poor and the needy.
I used about 12 fresh cups for this fabulous strawberry spinach salad with poppyseed dressing. Click here for the recipe. This was part of our April mission meal served by 4-year-old children. Read about here.
FROZEN FRESHLY TORN
After I pinched off the large stems from the collection box above, I submerged it in a sink full of water. Then I dunked, swirled and dunked some more to remove debris and bugs. I did this three times to ensure cleanliness. By the time I had swirled it in the water, it pretty much torn itself into bite-size pieces and I was ready to spin the excess water off with the salad spinner. Likewise, spinach can be placed on a large bath towel on your counter to dry.
The rest of the spinach was placed in quart size freezer bags in 2-cup portions. Large pieces of spinach can be cut with kitchen shears or run a chef knife through it before cooking.
Spinach can also be pureed with some water in a blender. Add just enough water to get the blender going. This is a great way to boost nutrition in soups, sauces and cooked meatballs, meatloaves or burgers. It’s sneaky nutrition for picky eaters. Freeze the puree in snack size bags squeezing the air out or ice cubes trays or baby food containers. View my pesto tutorial here to see frozen purees.
This fresh spinach makes awesome recipes:
Thaw the spinach in a plastic shoe box overnight in the refrigerator and use just like store-bought spinach in your favorite cooked recipes.
- Preserves fresh spinach from going bad
- Freeze an over abundance from your garden
- Creatively sneak in extra nutrition for your picky eaters
- Enjoy freshly picked spinach (with more nutrients) when it’s out of season
Linked to Frugal Fridays and Natural Living Mondays
22 thoughts on “ How to Freeze Fresh Spinach: 2 ways ”
Jackie, I love what you are doing to help out in your community. That is awesome
Fantastic, I’m glad you’re putting the tip into healthy action.
Is it safe to use the frozen spinach in smoothies? All your comments in the instructions for freezing pointed to it being frozen for use in cooking, leading me to believe it needed to be cooked for safe use.
It’s absolutely safe, but it’s very concentrated since it’s pureed so very little would be needed. Perhaps freezing it in ice cube trays and test run how much green you like starting at 1/2 cube and going from there. Think of smoothies with spinach and a handful or cupful in a smoothie and then think of how much spinach you’re adding with a cube. Hope this helps, blessings.
The washed torn stuff looks great, and the puree too.
thanks for the tips! I googled how to freeze fresh spinach and found this info very helpful! my daughter loves fresh spinach in her smoothies so I buy it in bulk from Costco but sometimes we can’t get through a whole bag in time. gonna freeze my extras!
great, glad you can use these tips
Wow. I love your site and the info on it. I am definitely bookmarking this page. I think its awesome what you are doing for your family and community. You are an inspiration. May God bless you.
I just put another batch of frozen spinach in my taco meat. It’s useful in so many ways.
Good to see someone knows the value of raw vegetables – I can’t believe so many sites are still telling people to boil vegetables – ugh – such a loss of nutrition
I love fresh as much as possible. I’m posting a new spinach tortilla recipe later this week, which uses raw spinach in the dough
I came across your blog as I was searching around for ways to freeze spinach. I just picked a ton of it from our greenhouse! I didn’t even think about pureeing it, what a great idea! Thanks for sharing.
Thank you! You are going to be saving me about 20 cups of spinach.. I need a bigger freezer!
Woot! Love saving our real food for those winter months when nothing is in season. Enjoy all the ways you can incorporate spinach!
All I would to know is HOW TO FREEZE SPINACH
Holly, I hope you found this info useful. It doesn’t have to be blanched if you are using it in cooked recipes or smoothies. I usually puree it to freeze. Blessings.
What would be the best way to thaw it before adding it to recipes?
I don’t thaw at all when I drop it into soups or smoothies, etc.
Can I freeze raw spinach to use in a spinach salad or does it have to be in a smoothie, soup, etc? I love raw spinach salads.
Spinach will have a different texture after freezing, so it won’t work for fresh salads.
I love the idea of pureeing and tossing it into other recipes.
I googled can I freeze spinach and got on to your page momonamission…..thnx for putting me clear on the fact that I can freeze it…well done on the community garden….I live in Cardiff South Wales ….on the outskirts a little place named St Mellons……we also have a community garden but the people who were there from the start are very covetous over who gets what ….that’s fine by me I don’t need a lot…..anyway in a way it’s their ‘baby’ ……
Godbless big hug Sue xx
Sue, that’s awesome. Thank you for sharing. Hugs back and blessings on your Thanksgiving.
There are many Indian recipes based out of greens, which needs a perfect Green Gravy. But sometimes there are certain spices or ingredients which can tamper the perfect green color. The process of blanching needs to be done with utmost care in order to bring that perfect green color and texture. I’ve shared a few tips to avoid the discoloration. In this article I am blanching spinach, but you can use other greens like Kale, Mustard Greens, Arugula, Fenugreek or even Coriander and Mint. Let’s see the process on how to blanch greens:
Here goes the step by step process of Blanching of Greens:
- Neatly wash the dirt out of greens and strain the excess water.
Washing and straining excess water
Adding greens to simmering water
Strain the water and add it in ice cold water for 10 – 15 mins.
The above process maintains a perfect green color. You can grind the leaves with the spices of your choice and store it in air tight jar for a week. Basically, I do it as a part of my meal prep for some weekends.
Grinding the greens
Tips to avoid the discoloration:
- Don’t add turmeric to these green gravies, that impact the dark green color.
- Avoid using tomatoes in these curry base. For sourness rather use curd.
- Excess use of milk or cream also lightens the green color of the gravy.
Photo via Shutterstock.com
Did you know that raw spinach contains oxalic acid, an organic substance that can interfere with the absorption of essential nutrients like calcium and iron? Oxalic acid binds with calcium, making it unavailable for use by our bodies. It also attaches to quite a few other vital nutrients, and long-term consumption of foods high in oxalic acid can lead to nutrient deficiencies.
The good news is that oxalic acid is broken down upon heating, so there is no loss of nutrients in steamed or sautéed spinach. Should you avoid raw spinach in your green drinks and salads? Is cooked spinach always the superior choice? Both fresh and cooked spinach contain about the same amount of macronutrients in a 100-gram serving (roughly 3 1/3 cups raw or 1/2 cup cooked spinach).
Both servings are about 23 calories, 3.8 g of carbohydrates, 3 g of protein, 0.3 g of fat, and a whopping 2.4 g of fiber, which is 10 percent of the daily value.
Raw Spinach Benefits: There is no need to shun raw spinach simply because it contains oxalic acid. It is also rich in many essential nutrients, some of which are more available to our bodies when we consume them raw. These nutrients include folate, vitamin C, niacin, riboflavin, and potassium.
Cooked Spinach Benefits: When you eat spinach that has been heated, you will absorb higher levels of vitamins A and E, protein, fiber, zinc, thiamin, calcium, and iron. Important carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, also become more absorbable.
Photo via Shutterstock.com
Iron 411: Both raw and cooked spinach are excellent sources of iron, containing twice as much as other leafy greens. A 100-gram serving of raw spinach contains 2.71 mg of iron, whereas cooked spinach contains 3.57 mg. Keep in mind that iron absorption is influenced by how much iron you already have in your body and by other nutrients that you eat with your meals. For instance, vitamin C facilitates iron absorption, while other substances like tannins and polyphenols inhibit iron absorption—so the amount of iron we absorb will vary regardless of whether or not spinach is cooked.
How to Blanch Greens
We have LOTS of spinach sitting under the high tunnel.
This winter, Farmer Kurt has been growing spinach under two of our high tunnels. Yeah, that’s a LOT of spinach.
It just keeps coming. Every week, Kurt goes out and harvests it. Sends it to the chefs. But we just can’t get rid of it fast enough. And it’s starting to get away from us.
So when Kurt told me last week, “I need to make room in the high tunnel for a new crop of carrots. The spinach has got to go.” I panicked.
Wait! How are we going to get rid of all that primo spinach? We can’t just let it go to waste.
That’s when a lightbulb went off.
“I know,” I said. “I’ll freeze it.”
Did you know you can freeze greens like spinach? And did you know you can do it in 2 minutes?
Why would you want to learn how to freeze greens?
If you’re a member of our CSA membership program, you know there are times when you start to drown in an abundance of greens.
Here’s a scene that plays out every year for some of our newbie customers: They open up their CSA box and among other things, they spot a big fluffy bunch of kale.
“But I still have some from 2 weeks ago!” they say. “And I don’t even like kale!”
(Trying to have a good attitude and spirit of adventure) “Well, I’ll just stuff it in the crisper. Maybe I’ll eat it next week.”
CSA Newbies like this are often stumped for ideas for how to use unpopular greens we expose them to during the summer — things like collard greens, broccoli leaves or Swiss chard.
Add to that the fact that greens can take up so much space in the fridge. Plus they tend to wilt quickly. So if you don’t do something with them early on in the week, you lose them to the compost pile.
And there’s nothing we hate more than wasting food, right?
Many people also don’t know that the tops of beets, radishes and turnips are all equally edible. But CSA rookies can feel overwhelmed by learning how to cook these strange items, so again, these often end up in the compost pile.
This is when it helps to find out that you can freeze greens to use later.
“But why would I want to freeze those greens if I don’t like them raw?” you ask.
Well, I’m glad you asked because I used to think that too. (Not a fan of kale).
What you may not know is that once greens are blanched, the “off-flavors” of many of these greens turn dynamic and almost sweet.
For example, you won’t even taste the cabbage-flavor of the broccoli leaves after they’re blanched and thrown in a soup — but you’ll gain all their nutritional zest and health benefits.
You have to trust me on this. Learning how to blanch and freeze greens is probably the second most important “vegetable exit strategy” to learn if you’re a CSA member.
Greens are a big part of your CSA share. They can start to pile up if you’re not experienced in using them. Sometimes, it’s better to just freeze them, and then figure out how to use them later after you’ve got a few months of CSA under your belt.
These turnips are heading to the greens washer. You can also eat the tops of turnips, radishes, and beets. Simply blanch and freeze.
So how does this freezing greens thing work?
To freeze spinach, you need to blanch it first.
Blanching is a process that involves boiling something in water for a brief time, then dunking it in ice water to stop the cooking.
You could just throw your greens raw right into the freezer (and I sometimes do with kale), but here’s what would happen long-term with your more delicate greens…
Enzymes begin to break down the cell walls, the leaves turn mushy, the nutritional content decays, and the beautiful green color darkens into an unattractive brown.
You could probably get away with this “throw it in a freezer bag raw and run” technique, if you plan to eat the frozen spinach within a week or so. But for long-term storage, blanching is the way to go. It’s the only way to protect the nutritional content, color and quality of your greens.
Ingredients and Supplies for blanching:
To make a cup of cooked greens, you’ll need about 12 cups of raw spinach. You’ll also need a big stock pot, a strainer, a dish towel, salt, and a bowl of ice water (with ice cubes).
Remember this technique works for all greens, except maybe lettuce.
1. First fill your stockpot half-way with water. Add a teaspoon of salt and bring it to a boil.
The salt is important. It keeps too many of the minerals and vitamins from leaching out into the water. And we know that spinach is packed with iron and calcium — don’t lose that power-punch.
2. Wash the spinach and take off the stems if they’re large.
Since spinach is such a fragile green you don’t really need to do this. But if you were blanching something like kale or collards or chard, you would want to remove the large stem before you boil the leaves. (You can save those stems and chop them up to use for stews as well).
3. Then throw them all at once into the pot of boiling water.
Boil them until the leaves wilt and the color brightens. This takes about 30 seconds for spinach, longer for tougher greens. For tougher greens like kale and collard greens or broccoli leaves, you may need to blanch for 2-3 minutes.
4. As soon as the greens wilt, drain the spinach and dunk them into the ice water.
This will immediately stop the process of cooking. Let it chill for the same amount of time you cooked them for. Note: you can keep reusing the same cooking water if you want to make several batches.
5. Remove the greens and squeeze out the excess water as best you can.
You want to prevent the formation of ice crystals.
6. Then place the greens into the desired portion sizes into a ziplock bag.
Remove the air, label it with the date, and store in the freezer.
Some of our CSA members suggest freezing it in ice cube trays for small portion sizes. You can also place them in small clumps on a jelly roll pan, cover them with plastic-wrap, and freeze them.
Once they freeze, pop them into a Ziplock bag and they won’t stick together. Then you can pull out small, more manageable portions to add to your eggs or other dishes.
Follow this technique, and you’ll soon begin amassing a collection of frozen greens that you can easily pop into your dishes later to save time… things like soups, side dishes, sautes, pastas, frittatas. Simply run them under some water to thaw them out, or microwave or throw them right into the dish you’re preparing.
Silverbeet is similar to spinach and originated in the Mediterranean. It is very easy to grow, gives you continuous picking and it freezes well which will save your household money in the months to come. This easy guide shows how to freeze spinach and silverbeet, the method is the same for both.
- Large Saucepan
- Large Bowl
- Pasta Ladle or any ladle that will let water through. This quality non-scratch set with wooden handles from Amazon includes a pasta ladle with other useful kitchen tools. (Paid link)
- Small Freezer Bags(Paid link)
- Silverbeet or Spinach Leaves
Time needed: 20 minutes.
How to Freeze Spinach and Silverbeet
Wash the leaves. If you have a lot of leaves, cover them in water in a basin to save water then agitate to dislodge any dirt.
Place 10 to 12 leaves on your chopping board then cut across the leaves so they will be ready for use when you need them. Discard any thick white stems if you don’t like the taste. The stems tend to be more bitter than the leaves.
Prepare Boiling Water and Ice Water
Next put 2 inches (5cm) of water in the saucepan then bring to a boil. While you are waiting for the water to boil, fill a bowl with water then add a few ice cubes and set aside.
Blanch First batch
Add the first batch of leaves to the boiling water then cover and cook for 30 seconds.
Place in Ice Water
Take the leaves out with the ladle then put straight into the ice water which will stop the cooking process.
Blanch Second Batch and Bag First batch
Get the second batch of leaves ready then put in the boiling water.
Take the first batch out of the ice water with your hands then squeeze out as much of the water as you can and put in a freezer bag.
Prepare Ice Water for Second Batch
Put more water and ice cubes in the bowl ready for the next batch which by this time would be ready to take out of the boiling water.
Bag, Label then Freeze
When you have finished, push the air out of the freezer bags then secure. Label with today’s date then freeze immediately.
It is best to freeze spinach and silverbeet no more than ten to twelve months. The longer it is in the freezer the greater the chance of freezer burn.
Thaw frozen spinach and silverbeet in the fridge overnight. However, it can be sliced with kitchen scissors straight into your dish frozen or thawed in the microwave on defrost mode.
Do you need a new cutting board? Try this top rated bamboo board from Amazon. (Paid link)
To save or print this guide on how to freeze spinach and silverbeet, here is the PDF Version
Do you love preserving food from your garden? Try this guide to Old Fashioned Tomato Relish, Canned Jalapenos, Drying Sage Freezing Peas, Bok Choy or Kale.
For more information on canning, freezing and drying food try this guide to Food Preservation.
Are you interested in growing your own food or saving money at home? Try this free Homesteading guide.
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Spinach is packed with beneficial nutrients, some of which of are enhanced by cooking while others are better retained in raw spinach. The best way to reap the many benefits of this healthy vegetable is to enjoy it both raw and cooked. However, boiling is not a healthy way to cook spinach because the nutrients leach into the water. Instead, preserve nutrients in spinach by steaming, sauteing or cooking it in the microwave oven.
Beta-Carotene and Lutein
Beta-carotene and lutein are carotenoids, antioxidants that protect the body from free radicals, which are molecules that, over time, can damage the cells and lead to illness. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, evidence indicates that adding carotenoids to the diet may bolster the immune system and help protect the body from illness such as cancer and heart disease 1. While beta-carotene and lutein are abundant in spinach and other colorful vegetables, cooking spinach heats the cell walls of the spinach, releasing beta-carotene and lutein and making them more available to the body.
- Beta-carotene and lutein are carotenoids, antioxidants that protect the body from free radicals, which are molecules that, over time, can damage the cells and lead to illness.
- While beta-carotene and lutein are abundant in spinach and other colorful vegetables, cooking spinach heats the cell walls of the spinach, releasing beta-carotene and lutein and making them more available to the body.
Folate and Vitamin C
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Vitamin C has a number of beneficial functions in the human body. It helps maintain healthy bones, tendons, muscles and blood vessels, and like beta-carotene and lutein, acts as an antioxidant that protects the body from free radicals. Folate, a type of vitamin B, helps maintain healthy skin and supports various functions, including the immune system and production of red blood cells. According to Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the high vitamin C and folate content of spinach begins to degrade when the spinach is exposed to heat and light, or when it is stored for long periods. To take advantage of vitamin C and folate, eat the spinach fresh, and as soon as possible.
- Vitamin C has a number of beneficial functions in the human body.
- Folate, a type of vitamin B, helps maintain healthy skin and supports various functions, including the immune system and production of red blood cells.
To saute spinach, cook it quickly in a frying pan with a small amount of heart-healthy olive oil or canola oil. Heat the oil first. Otherwise, the spinach will be greasy and soggy. Saute the spinach, stirring constantly, until the leaves are crisp-tender, which takes about two to three minutes.
Fresh spinach is readily available all year and can easily be substituted in a lasagna recipe calling for frozen spinach. Because fresh, raw spinach contains a great quantity of water, it’s a good idea to cook and drain it before mixing into lasagna. Not only does fresh spinach cook down to less than half the starting volume, but all that excess water may not be absorbed by the pasta, resulting in lasagna that’s watery and ultimately unappetizing.
How Much Fresh Spinach
If using a recipe that calls for frozen spinach, substitute fresh spinach by using the following formula. Five ounces of frozen spinach is equal to 1 pound of raw spinach or 1 cup of cooked fresh spinach.
Cooking Fresh Spinach
There are several different methods for cooking fresh spinach before using it in a lasagna. Spinach cooks fast so whether it’s boiled, sauteed, stir-fried, wilted or steamed, the most important thing is not to overcook it. After removing the stems and rinsing the fresh spinach leaves in a colander, an easy method is to cook the rinsed leaves in a medium saucepan or skillet using the water still clinging to the leaves. Cook over medium heat with the lid on for three to five minutes.
However you cooked the spinach ,and regardless of whether you used frozen or fresh, drain it thoroughly before adding it to the lasagna recipe. Squeezing the water out by hand or press it down in a colander. Finish drying the spinach with a squeeze between several paper towels. For easy distribution chop the spinach coarsely after drying it.
There are a few instances when having some extra liquid in a lasagna might be preferable. For example, lasagna made with no-boil noodles tends to be drier, and extra water may help the pasta absorb the flavors of the other ingredients better. Also, when the sauce is very thick or chunky a little extra water from the spinach can help distribute the sauce more thoroughly. In either case, chop the fresh spinach and add it to the other ingredients uncooked. Alternatively, cook the spinach but don’t squeeze the water out before chopping it and adding it to the other ingredients.
Published June 23, 2015
Reviewed February 2020
Freezing is a great way to preserve foods. But when it comes to freezing fresh produce, there is more involved than just putting foods directly into the freezer. One solution to this problem is to blanch vegetables before you freeze them. Blanching reduces enzyme action in food, which helps vegetables retain their color and flavor.
Note: Blanching is great for many vegetables and some firm fruits, such as apples and pears. Other foods, such as meat, don’t need to be blanched before freezing.
What is Blanching?
Blanching is a process where food is exposed to boiling water or steam for a brief period and then quickly placed in ice water to prevent it from cooking all the way through.
The amount of time needed to blanch different vegetables varies. And, it is important to follow the recommended times for specific vegetable because over-blanching leads to a loss of flavor, color and nutrients, whereas under-blanching can increase enzyme activity. Check the blanching chart below for the appropriate blanching times.
Here are a few reasons to blanch vegetables:
- Blanching helps to preserve the flavor, color and texture of fresh produce that’s being frozen.
- Blanching helps slow the loss of vitamins.
- Blanching helps cleanse the surface of dirt and some bacteria.
How To Blanch?
There are two major steps involved in blanching foods. First, the vegetables must be submerged in boiling water. Second, they must be cooled quickly.
For every pound of vegetables, use at least one gallon of water to blanch them in. Leafy green vegetables require twice as much water – so two gallons of water for every one pound of leafy green. Before blanching, wash vegetables and remove the peels or skins if desired. If you plan on freezing your vegetables sliced, chopped or cut, do this before blanching.
When the water is boiling, just add the vegetables to the pot and cover tightly. The water should return to boiling within a minute of adding the vegetables. As soon as water returns to a boil, the blanching countdown begins. To help remove the vegetables quickly and easily when they’re ready, place the vegetables in a wire basket or secure them in cheesecloth before boiling them.
Vegetables should be cooled quickly and thoroughly to stop the cooking process immediately after blanching. To do this, plunge the vegetables into a large bowl of cold water, 60 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Change the water frequently or use one pound of ice for each pound of vegetables to help keep the water cold. It should take about the same amount of time to cool vegetables as it did to blanch them. Drain vegetables in a colander after they’ve cooled and lay flat on a clean towel or paper towels to let them fully dry. Extra moisture can reduce quality when vegetables are frozen.
Pack your blanched vegetables in food safe, plastic freezer bags or rigid containers before storing in the freezer. Allow some extra space in the container before sealing, as some items may expand when frozen.
See blanching times for various vegetables from The National Center for Home Food Preservation.
The barbecue is no longer the sole domain of meat — vegetables are routinely tossed on the grates and grilled as well. Grilling your vegetables is a convenient way to prepare a whole outdoor meal in the same place, and adds a hint of smokiness to the finished dish. While spinach isn’t a vegetable you might normally grill, this versatile leafy green cooks up easily and is high in many nutrients including calcium, potassium, vitamin A and iron.
Preheat your grill to medium-high.
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Cut any large stems off 1 lb. of fresh spinach and run the leaves under cool water to remove loose dirt.
Tear off a large section of aluminum foil, at least 18 inches square.
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Set the foil down on a flat surface and rub it with vegetable oil or olive oil, using a paper towel or kitchen brush.
Pile the spinach in the middle of the foil and sprinkle with 1 tsp 1. of salt.
Fold the foil over the spinach one direction, then fold in the ends to create a package. Fold each side over a few times to make sure the package is completely sealed.
Place the spinach on the grill and cook for 10 minutes, until all the leaves are wilted.
Remove the foil package from the grill and open carefully to serve the spinach. Or, puree the cooked spinach in a food processor to make a sauce.
Before grilling, add extra ingredients to the package for added flavor; try lemon juice, orange juice, garlic, or minced onion or ginger.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Packed with iron, calcium and vitamin A, spinach is a leafy green that boasts both nutritional value and flavor. Enjoyable by itself or as an addition to practically any entrée it’s added to, spinach is both a spring and fall crop that thrives in the cooler weather. If you plan on freezing spinach until it comes time to use it, it will need to be cooked, or at least blanched, to help stop the enzyme activity which could cause it to go bad.
Wash the spinach under cool running water to help rinse away dirt and debris.
Tear off or cut away damaged leaves and woody stems with a knife.
Place the spinach leaves into a pot of rapidly boiling water.
Boil the leaves for two to three minutes before pouring the contents of the pot into a colander.
Soak the spinach leaves in a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process and cool them off.
Remove the spinach from the ice water after a few minutes and set them out on paper towels to allow them air dry.
Place the spinach leaves into large freezer bags and seal them up tightly expelling excess air.
Write the current date on the bag before placing it into the freezer.
Things You’ll Need
Spinach can be kept in the freezer for up to one year.