This year we planted two rows of spinach, each row is about 30 feet long. This has provided enough fresh spinach for about six weeks. Spinach likes cooler weather (not hotter than 80 degrees Fahrenheit) and this week we have had 4 straight days of 80+ degree weather. I noticed today that our spinach leaves were starting to change shape. That means the spinach was “going to bolt” so it has to be pulled and cut TODAY!!
Spinach normally has nice rounded oval shaped leafs. Once the leaves start to change into an arrow head shape they will bolt. “Going to bolt” means the plant is about to flower and seed. When a plant bolts it becomes bitter or stronger. The spinach will already be a bit bitter with the warm week we have had. So I harvested it all by pulling the plant. We will not be able to grow more fresh greens until fall. Greens love cool weather. I thought about leaving some plants to collect seeds for next year, but we really want to replace the rows of greens with a summer crop like zucchini, squash, green beans and tomatoes. YUM!
We will freeze and give away what we won’t use. YES you can freeze spinach!
How to harvest the spinach:
Step 1: Pull the spinach plant
Step 2: Cut the roots off.
Step 3: Rinse, Rinse, Rinse.
You should rinse your spinach two to three times. Rinse the spinach more if it is really dirty.
Step 4: Dry the spinach-
Use a salad spinner, towels or let it air dry. I let ours air dry outside under the shade of the porch roof.
Step 5: Package the spinach-
After the spinach leaves are dry you can place them in the storage containers you would like to use. I used Ziploc bags. I kept the bags open until I was done bagging the spinach; to allow the spinach to keep drying. I wanted to freeze the spinach with out to much extra moisture in the bags. Extra moisture might result in freezer burn or faster spoiling.
Fresh spinach will last at least a week in the fridge. I normally just place it in a ziploc bag and then in the crisper. Some suggest putting a wet paper towel in the ziploc bag along with the spinach.
We have more spinach then we can eat before it goes bad, so I am going to try freezing it. There are a few ways to freeze spinach. After freezing spinach it is best to use in dishes that you cook. Otherwise you will have a big bowl of mushy salad. YUCK!
Ways to freeze spinach:
Blanching: this is when you flash-cook the vegetables before freezing. To blanch spinach you need to bring the pot of water to boil and then drop the spinach leaves in the hot water for about 15-30 seconds. Place the spinach leaves directly into cold or ice water to stop the cooking process. You don’t want to overcook the spinach before freezing it. Dry and place in the container you will be freezing the spinach in.
Flash Freezing: place the spinach leaves on a greased cookie sheet. Place the cookie sheets in the freezer for 20-30 minutes. Now you can use a spatula to remove the frozen spinach from the cookie sheets into the storage containers. This helps your spinach to lay flatter and take up less room in your freezer.
The third way: This is how I prepared our spinach. After the spinach is dry, place it in your storage containers and freeze. Make sure all the air is out of the bags if you place your spinach in a ziploc. Also always use air tight containers. This helps prevent freezer burn.
Now that you have fresh frozen spinach you might want some new ideas of how to use it. You can place the frozen spinach in smoothies, casseroles, and sauces or just eat it as a side dish, if you like that kind of thing. Really your options are unlimited. Check out my recipes that use spinach Quick and Easy Lasagna Rolls and White Lasagna. They are both family favorites!!
Growing spinach was very easy; it has saved us a lot of money on fresh spinach all spring long. Not only did it save us a lot of money, it is rewarding to receive so much bounty from the Earth. I felt like a garden pirate colleting all my treasures.
Gardening greens is the perfect way to know how your salad is grown. You get to control what dirt the food planted in and what gets sprayed on your food. Total win for organic food eaters! This year’s spinach harvest will provide frozen spinach for the rest of the year! YAY, for clean whole food all year long!
Have you ever grown and froze spinach? How did that work out for you?