Fresh spinach is a mild flavoured and versatile way to add the nutritional benefits of dark green veggies to mealtimes.
When buying and storing fresh spinach, here are a few things to remember:
– The fresher the better. Research has shown that fresh spinach starts losing its nutritional benefits within days of harvest.
– The cooler the better. Research has also shown that when kept as cool as possible without actually freezing, the longer spinach will keep with the least amount of nutrient loss.
– Drier is better. Moisture leads to faster deterioration of most fruits and veggies.
– Wash your spinach just before using – not before storing. And, while there seems to be some debate on whether to wash or not wash bagged greens – I wash all greens – even the organic triple washed kind.
With this in mind, here’s some info on selecting and storing spinach.
First, try to get locally grown spinach – not just because it supports your local community, but because it’s the freshest option- less travel and storage time.
If that fails, head to the grocery store and buy the freshest spinach you can find. You can buy spinach in a fresh bunch, a bag or in a plastic container. All three are good options. Just don’t over buy! There’s no sense buying more spinach than you can use within 3 days.
Things to look for:
– best before date
– perky, green leaves – avoid brown, wilted or yellow leaves
– avoid bags or containers with excessive moisture in them
– choose spinach that’s stored in a cooler rather than the shelf
– keep spinach in the original bag or plastic container
– store bunch spinach in a plastic bag
– store as cold as possible without freezing
I don’t bother storing it with paper towels or going to any other heroic measures to try to keep it as long as possible. The point is to EAT YOUR SPINACH, not to store it!
Spinach is best eaten within 3 to 5 days. After that, your spinach may still look good and is likely still safe to eat – but has less nutritional value.
Canned or Frozen Spinach
While we may love fresh spinach, did you know that fresh spinach is not necessarily the best option?! Spinach starts to lose its nutritional potency within days of being harvested, so canned or frozen spinach which are processed immediately after harvest often retain more nutrients and vitamins than fresh spinach that’s been travelling the country or sitting on shelves. This doesn’t mean you should stop eating fresh spinach, it’s just a reminder that there’s no reason for us to also have canned or frozen spinach.
Spinach Ideas to Try
Don’t let that fresh spinach in your crisper go to waste! Toss a handful or two of washed spinach (I always wash spinach – even it it’s organic, triple washed spinach) into whatever you’re making. Because it’s so mild, it won’t alter the flavour – you’ll just get great colour and those nutritional benefits. But remember, add it towards the end of the cooking cycle. It will only take a minute or two for it to cook with whatever you’re making.
Add spinach to:
soup – chop and add in the last two minutes before serving
chili – chop and add in the last two minutes before serving
spaghetti sauce – chop and add in the last two minutes before serving
pizza – sautee with garlic and add to pizza before baking
sandwiches – add fresh
wraps – add fresh
salads – add fresh to any type of salad – egg salad, chicken salad, house salad, caesar salad
pasta dishes – chop and add in the last two minutes before serving
stir fries – chop and add in the last two minutes before serving
casseroles – chop and toss in with other veggies
egg dishes – chop and toss in with other veggies
smoothies – blend together with other ingredients – use blueberries if the green colour is a concern
If you prefer more detailed instructions, I’ll be posting several of these recipes over the next week.
Sauteed Spinach in Garlic – Jaimie Oliver has great photo instructions for the perfect sauteed spinach.
Special thanks to the Canadian Home Economics Foundation for their support in helping me share ideas for making home cooking easy and enjoyable! The depth of research that went into this post, wouldn’t be possible without their support.
Getty Stewart is an engaging speaker and writer providing tasty recipes, time-saving tips, and helpful kitchen ideas to make home cooking easy and enjoyable. She is a Professional Home Economist, author of Manitoba’s best-selling Prairie Fruit Cookbook, Founder of Fruit Share, mom and veggie gardener.