How to Select, Store and Use Spinach
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. Fresh spinach will last longer and lose the least amount of nutrients when kept as cool as possible without actually freezing.
– 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 bagged triple washed kind.
With this in mind, here’s some info on selecting and storing spinach.
How to Select Fresh Spinach
First, try to get locally grown spinach – not only 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 – it’s still good to eat after the best before date, but you want to buy the freshest spinach you can
– 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 a shelf
How to Store Spinach
– keep spinach in the original bag or plastic container and wash just prior to use
– store bunch spinach in a plastic bag after ensuring there is no moisture on the leaves (pat dry if moisture is present)
-for extra protection, wrap in clean tea towel or paper towel
-store in the high humidity crisper drawer
Eat your spinach within 3 to 5 days.
If you have extra spinach after that, use it in hot dishes like manicotti, fritatta or biscuits. If you still have extras, freeze it for use in smoothies, soups and stews.
Using 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 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 very end of whatever you’re cooking to keep its bright color. 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
Try some of these recipes.
Spinach and Strawberry Salad with or without Chicken
Fennel, Sausage and Spinach Pasta
Chicken or Turkey and Spinach Wrap
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.
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.