The beauty of spinach and its popularity lies in its versatility and taste. Not just made popular amongst kids by Popeye, it is also famous because of its nutrition factors and ease of use in cooking. Be it a part of greens in a salad, a part of a green smoothie concoction, a part of a vegetable soup, adding it to an omelette, baking it into a quiche, it easily fits into most recipes without any trouble.
However, unlike other vegetables, spinach is quickly prone to easy damage as it’s a leafy vegetable. Leafy vegetables are also very prone to wilting away, becoming yellow and getting spoilt very fast unless it is stored properly in some way or the other. As with wilting vegetables, they become slimy and start giving off a notoriously off-putting smell that not only spoils the vegetable. Suddenly the entire fridge starts smelling of it and can be difficult to get rid of that smell. Spinach is easily one of the most delicate vegetables we will come across in our kitchens. The same fact is true for all leafy vegetables. There is a really good chance that your spinach will get spoilt even before you can use it in any of your dishes, despite being stored in the refrigerator.
How to identify that the spinach is getting spoilt?
The first indication is the leaves and their texture. The once solid and firm leaves will start wilting away as time passes. Spinach will start to turn yellow at the leaves’ edges slowly. You can easily notice as the colour begins to change gradually. The leaves start getting soggy and gnarly. Beyond this point, the spinach will deteriorate fast. First, it will start to smell even within the fridge and may start rotting away as well. The unpleasant smell is an indication that things have gone just too far by now, and it needs to be in the garbage bin right away.
Can spinach be stored properly?
So is there a way to store spinach and somehow extend its life beyond the normal? Also, a way to keep it fresh for longer as most families would buy in bulk and use the leafy vegetable slowly over a couple of days. To be frank, it is not difficult to extend the life of spinach and store it for longer. Spinach will start to go bad if it is not kept dry enough. Also, spinach will go bad if it’s kept exposed to the fridge’s air, which sucks up all the moisture. It will be a fine balance of keeping things right and preventing the spinach from getting wet or too dry at the same time.
How do you store spinach?
- The first part is to choose the right quality of spinach. Very often, we see spinach lying in a stack of bundles lying on top of each other. A lot of spinach will be spoilt because it is crushed under the weight. Avoid them. Choose those whose leaves look fresh out of the field, are firm to the touch, can hold their own, and the leaves do not fall when you have the bunch vertically. Selecting the right bunch is the most important step.
- The process begins from the time you get the spinach home. The first thing that you have to do is sort the entire bunch of spinach and remove any leaves that are visibly damaged or are already in the process of turning yellow. There will also be some leaves that are past their prime, and you will be able to spot them visibly. Identify them and remove them as they will spoil the entire bunch very fast. This is the first step in the process.
- The bunch can be dirty, and also, some leaves may be soggy. So wash the entire bunch under cold running water and ensure all the dirt comes off and all the soft and soggy leaves are taken out. If you are washing in a pot, ensure the water is drained off 5-6 times to get rid of all impurities.
- Post the washing, use a vegetable spinner or paper towels or a dry kitchen towel to dry out the leaves completely. A Salad spinner is the best, easy and quickest way to do it. You can line up some dry paper towels on the inside and place the leaves on top of them. Layer paper towels and leaves alternately and give it a spin. As the spinner rotates, the excess water will run off into the paper towels, which will absorb the water. That’s very quick and easy. The leaves have to be completely dry as far as possible before you can even plan to store them. Only once your leaves are thoroughly clean after washing and completely dry after removing the moisture can you store them.
- If there is no salad spinner around, or if you do not want to invest in one, you can line up the paper towels inside a container box and place the leaves on top of the paper. This is an alternate method that also works, if not equally good. These are all the usual ways of storing spinach.
- If you plan to store them in the fridge, ensure the fridge is set to an optimum temperature of 37 – 39 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit will cause the spinach to freeze in the fridge. You can store them in the fridge in 2 ways described below:
· Plastic bag and paper towels:
Wrap spinach and paper towels together and place them in a clean plastic bag. Remove the air completely and store them in the fridge
· Plastic box and paper towels:
It’s the same process as above. Wrap Spinach and paper towels together and place them in an airtight box or container. Then place it inside the fridge.
- You can also go ahead and directly freeze the spinach in the freezer, and it will last weeks and maybe even months. But before freezing them, remember to blanch them. Blanching will stop all the enzyme action and ensure all the micro-organisms are dead, which would have otherwise spoiled the spinach faster, even in the freezer. To do this, put the leaves in a pot of boiling water after they are rinsed and cleaned. Let them stay in the boiling water for about 30 seconds before removing them and putting them in ice-cold water for a minute, which will instantly stop the cooking process. It is called blanching and helps increase the life of vegetables when frozen. After this, try to squeeze out all the extra water and put them into zip-lock plastic bags.
- Spinach can be stored in the freezer in a freezer-safe bag. Use a vacuum pump to remove all the air out of the plastic bag, and they are ready to hit the freezer and be stored for the next few months. Spinach can last in the freezer for 9 to 14 months.
Few additional tips that will help you immensely:
- Keep spinach away from ethylene-producing foods like pears, apples, tomatoes, bananas, etc. Ethylene aids in ripening will help decay prematurely, and the result is that spinach will wilt and spoil away fast.
- Do place spinach in the crisper drawer. If you do not know what this is, it’s the drawer that is labeled to be used for fruits and vegetables. This drawer has been specially designed for vegetables and has lower humidity than other parts of the fridge.
- Insert a slice of bread in the plastic bag or the container you are storing spinach in. The bread will soak up all the moisture in the bag and will help spinach retain its freshness.
- When you need the stored spinach, you can use the quantity that you want before replacing the rest in the respective airtight bags or containers.
Using all these information points that we have shared, you will be easily able to store spinach for up to 10 days in the fridge and months in the freezer. Storing the vegetable properly will slow down its nutrient loss.
This information overall covers all that you need to know about how to store spinach. All this information is more than sufficient to get you started and use it effectively every time. Do use the same principles for other leafy vegetables, and the same information is valid for them. I hope this information helped you.