If you have more fresh spinach than you can handle, here are complete instructions with photos for how to blanch and freeze spinach.
If you love adding spinach to smoothies, soups or sauces, you’ll enjoy having these handy frozen spinach pucks.
Why Blanch Spinach?
You will find websites that say you don’t have to blanch spinach.They say all you have to do is pop spinach in a bag and freeze. Be cautious when following that advice, especially if your frozen veggies will be in your freezer for more than three months. Blanching preserves flavor, texture and color – things that will suffer over time if you do not blanch.
Vegetables that have not been properly blanched will continue to age in the freezer. The naturally occurring aging enzymes in fresh produce continue to function at freezing temps. What stops the enzymes from aging your veggies is blanching – which is a fancy word for boiling your veggies.
Think of garden peas for a second. Think of how sweet and juicy tiny young peas are. Oh so yummy. Now think about what they taste like after a couple of weeks when those peas are big and fat. They taste completely different, they’re starchy and sometimes bitter, not like those sweet pealets you had earlier. The same enzymes that cause those flavor changes in the garden are at work in unblanched veggies in your freezer. If you freeze lovely sweet baby peas without blanching, slowly but surely in about three months time, they’ll start to taste starchy and bitter. The same thing happens to spinach.
To prevent flavor loss, lock in nutrients and help preserve color blanch your veggies before freezing.
Yes, it’s an extra step, but luckily, it’s super easy. The following process and timing can be used for swiss chard, kale or beet tops too.
- Gather fresh spinach.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil.
- Meanwhile, wash spinach then wash again to ensure all fine silt is removed.
- Remove any large stems and yellowed or blemished leaves.
- Toss spinach into boiling water. To ensure even boiling, don't overcrowd the pot with veggies, repeat the process several times in small batches.
- Watch until water returns to full boil, then set timer and boil for 2 minutes.
- Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with freezing cold water.
- After 2 minutes of boiling, immediately turn off heat and transfer spinach from boiling water to freezing cold water.
- Let spinach cool in ice water bath for 2 minutes.
- Remove from water and squeeze out as much water as possible using the back of a spoon and wire mesh or your hands.
- If desired, chop spinach to desired size.
- Place spinach in ice cube tray or into freezer bag.
- Place ice cube tray in freezer for one to two hours then transfer frozen cubes to freezer bag.
- Remove as much air from bag as possible before sealing. Use a straw inserted into a small opening and suck out air to create a simple vacuum seal. This helps prevent freezer burn.
- Label and freeze for one year.
- 1 pound (16 oz) of fresh spinach = 10-12 cups leaves = 1 1/2 cups cooked
- 10 oz frozen spinach = 1 1/2 cups cooked spinach
Wash spinach several times to get rid of all the dirt.
Remove tough stems if desired. If using frozen spinach pucks for smoothies or anything pureed, removing stems is not necessary.
Bring large pot of water to boil, add spinach when water is boiling vigorously. Allow water to return to full boil then set timer for 2 minutes.
Immediately turn off heat and using a strainer transfer spinach from boiling water to a big bowl of ice cold water. Cool for 2 minutes.
Transfer spinach to strainer and squeeze out as much water as possible either with hand or back of spoon pressing against a strainer.
Squeezing spinach with hands is messier but easier and more effective.
Transfer spinach to ice cube tray.
Freeze until cubes are solid (about 2 hours) then transfer to freezer bag. Remove air by inserting straw into small opening and sucking out air.
Enjoy your frozen spinach! It’s best used within one year.
Want to know what spinach is good for and how to get more of it in your diet – read All About Spinach
Sign up to get articles by Getty delivered to your inbox. You’ll get recipes, practical tips and great food information like this. Getty is a Professional Home Economist, speaker and writer putting good food on tables and agendas. She is the author of Manitoba’s best-selling Prairie Fruit Cookbook, Founder of Fruit Share, a mom and veggie gardener.