Spinach, just like other perishable products, has a short shelf life. And then there’s another challenge in the space available in the refrigerator. The bunches can be bulky, and the bags can be huge, making refrigeration challenges.
It is, however, possible to freeze spinach. You can freeze spinach in any form; whether in whole as leaves or puree, you can preserve veggies for use in the future. Ideally, dumping fresh leaves in a freezer may not necessarily be helpful because there may be instances when the vegetable goes bad.
The going bad is caused by enzymes present in the leaves, which become active once there are favorable temperatures. This means maintaining such low temperatures in a household freezer is difficult. The best way is using vacuumed freezer bags or cooking spinach before depositing it in the freezer. Another sound way you can freeze spinach is by blending it and then freezing the puree in cubes.
In this article, I will discuss these various forms in different categories. The first form is coking:
Here are steps on how to properly cook and freeze fresh spinach leaves:
What you need:
- Large pot
- Large bowls
- Ice cubes
- Large slotted spoon
- Paper towels or clean kitchen towels
- Freezer-safe resealable bags
- Permanent marker
- Remove roots, pluck off thick stems.
- Submerge the leaves in a bowl of water to wash away the grit and loosen stubborn dirt.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil.
- Fill a large bowl with ice water and set it somewhere nearby.
- Drop large spinach handfuls into the water.
- Stir to submerge the leaves fully.
- Cook for about 2 minutes until all the spinach is bright green.
- Scoop the spinach out with a large slotted spoon.
- Dunk the spinach into ice water.
- Remove the cooled spinach from the ice water and squeeze it dry with clean hands.
- Transfer to a separate large bowl.
- Use paper or clean dish towels to dry the cooked spinach.
- Label freezer-safe bags with the date using the permanent marker.
- Divide the cooked and dried spinach among the labeled bags, filling approximately 2/3 of the way up.
- Roll the bags up, squeezing out as much air as possible, and seal.
- Freeze for up to 3 months.
Thaw the spinach overnight in the fridge or a bowl by running cold water over the bag until thawed. Squeeze out excess moisture.
Frozen spinach recipes
Spinach is used the world over to make many different delicacies. We couldn’t cover all of them here even if we wanted to. I will, however, highlight one or two;
Frozen spinach for smoothies
Adding spinach to a smoothie is a good way of adding some viable vitamins to your drink. This means you need to blend the vegetable. Raw spinach, when blended, does not provide the best consistency you may want in your smoothie. It, therefore, tends to break down into a watery, sludgy mess. On the other hand, frozen spinach is smoother and will give your drink a much nicer touch.
Furthermore, mature leaves can become rubbery after being thawed. The best flavor of smoothies comes from frozen baby spinach. They are the best way of incorporating greens in your drink, giving them that much-needed vitamin punch!
Here are other recipes made with spinach:
Breakfast casserole – Spinach, mushroom, and cheese
What you need:
- Olive oil
- 8 cups rustic crustless Italian bread, cut into cubes
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
- 2 minced cloves garlic
- 5 cups fresh baby spinach
- 4 ounces Gruyere, shredded on the large holes of a box grater
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
- 8 large eggs
- 2 1/2 cups half-and-half
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped
- Grease a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish with olive oil.
- Put the bread cubes, 2 tablespoons of the oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and a few grinds of pepper in a large bowl.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat.
- Add the bread to the skillet, and cook, occasionally tossing, until toasted and golden brown, about 8 minutes.
- Return the toasted bread to the bowl to cool.
- Wipe out the skillet.
- Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat until it starts to shimmer.
- Add the mushrooms in one layer (resist the urge to stir right away), and cook until they start to brown, about 3 minutes; stir, then continue to brown for 2 minutes more.
- Add the garlic, thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and some pepper, stir continuously for 1 minute, then fold in the spinach and another 1/4 teaspoon salt.
- Continue to cook, often stirring, until the spinach is wilted, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Remove from the heat.
- Place half the bread cubes in the prepared casserole dish, and sprinkle them with half of the Gruyere and Parmesan.
- Add the mushroom-spinach mixture in an even layer.
- Top with the remaining bread cubes, Gruyere and Parmesan.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and several grinds of pepper.
- Pour the egg mixture into the casserole dish.
- Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 6 hours up to overnight.
- Remove the casserole from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.
- Preheat the oven to 350 0
- Bake the casserole until the custard is set and the top is golden brown, 50 to 55 minutes.
- Cool for at least 15 minutes before serving warm or at room temperature.
You can check these out among many other recipes that spinach can be used in;
How to freeze kale
What you need:
- Large pot
- Large bowl
- Colander or strainer
- Four clean kitchen towels
- Slotted spoon
- Rinse the kale leaves under running water to remove dust, dirt, bugs, and other debris. Then place them on a clean towel to drain excess water.
- Cut the stalks off the leaves. To do away with the stalk entirely, cut off the bottom stem where there is no leaf, and then peel the leaves away from the midrib running up the middle of the kale.
- Blanch the leaves. Using tongs, place the kale leaves into the boiling water. Boil the greens for 2.5 minutes.
- Remove the leaves and dump them into an ice bath with cold water. Let them cool for 2.5 minutes before removing them to dry. Remove the leaves from the ice bath using the slotted spoon.
- Transfer the kale to the colander, and allow the excess water to drain off. Shake the colander regularly to help remove the water. Use the other two towels to dry the kale as much as possible.
- Set the kale aside to air dry.
- You can prepare them for freezing. Get an airtight container or freezer bag and squeeze all air out. Deposit your kale into these plastic bags and seal them tightly. Could you put them in the freezer? Kale can stay in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- The dryer the kale is when you freeze it, the fewer ice crystals will form, and the longer the kale will withstand freezer burn.
The bottom line
It is now possible to extend the shelf life of some of the most perishable products. Kales and spinach are examples of vegetables stored for future use whilst maintaining their nutritional values.
The main challenge is knowing exactly how to prepare for deep freezing. Wrong preparation, such as leaving the air in the bags, will result in freezer burns. Whilst failing to kill the enzymes will shorten its shelf life even though they are in freezing.
To avoid spoilage, first, blanch the leaves. By blanching, you boil them to kill those enzymes. Shock cooling helps to keep the veggies’ deep green .color
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