Monday, June 8, 2009

Freezing Spinach

Hi all. I really am here still. It's just summer time and the kids are all home and need lots of things to do, so I'm keeping pretty busy keeping them busy.

I had some spinach in the garden that was still green when I cleaned out the garden last year, so I left it in just to see what it would do. Come to find out that spinach is a biennial, so it's perfectly happy to live through the winter if it's not too harsh of a winter or is covered and start growing again in the spring. Very cool. So we've been eating this spinach, but it's just gone crazy, and then started "bolting" where it sends up a stalk and tries to produce seed. This was some random hybrid spinach, so I really wasn't interested in collecting seed from it, so I pulled all the plants and decided to try freezing it. Never tried freezing spinach, so I consulted my Ball Blue Book (usually a fantastic reference for freezing, canning, and dehydrating food) and here's the instructions:

Pick young, tender, green leaves. Wash thoroughly and cut off woody stems. Blanch 2 minutes and avoid matting leaves. Cool. Drain. Pack in can or freeze jars or plastic freezer boxes. Seal, label and freeze.

Sounds pretty easy. I am NOT a fan of cooked greens, so I figured if this didn't go well, it really wouldn't be a great loss and the chickens could eat my mistakes. Well, long story short, the spinach freezing went fine and is actually better texture than store bought frozen spinach. Might do this again. I put my little assembly line workers to work washing and picking the leaves off the spinach (their attention was intermittent at best--they really just wanted to play in the water in the sink, but I tried anyway). I despise dirt in my spinach (I think it tastes like dirt anyway, so it's not helpful to have the crunchy texture of dirt added in) so we washed it a bunch of times to make sure it was really clean. Then I thought whole spinach leaves wouldn't be too useful, so I chopped them up in about 1-1 1/2 inch squares.
Next was blanching for 2 minutes. That means you boil water and put the veggie in the boiling water and then pull it out after 2 minutes. I didn't want to be chasing little spinach leaves around a pot of water trying to pull them out, so I put the chopped spinach in cheesecloth.
Tied the cheese cloth in a "bag" to hold it all together and put a knot a little higher up so I'd have a place to grab the bag when the 2 minutes were up.
Put it in the pot, boiled for 2 minutes and used my pasta spoon to pull the bag out. Slick.
Opened the bag up and emptied the spinach on a cookie sheet to cool. After it cooled, I put it in freezer bags and stuck it all in the freezer. **Read the comments!--I should have cooled the spinach in ice/cold water to cool it properly before bagging and freezing it (turned out fine anyway, but that's the right way to do it).**
We used some the next night to make quiche that actually turned out very good (should have doubled it and made two). Pretty tasty for cooked spinach . . .
So there you have it. The almost fully illustrated guide to freezing your own spinach! :)

12 comments:

Aimee said...

If you are happy with your results, then there's no need to change anything, but I like to freeze my greens raw. Just wash very well and spin dry, then chop and pack into ziploc freezer bags. This works beautifully with tougher greens like kale and collards, too.

HermitJim said...

Boy, you are a wealth of very useful information! Thanks for this tutorial!

Angela said...

Aimee--I might try that next time. It would definitely be easier!

Jim--You're very welcome. Just trying to lessen the learning curve for others! ;)

marci357 said...

If you had just kept cutting off the tops of it, ie NOT letting it bolt, it would have kept producing. I do that with my swiss chard - which is the same deal.

Both will also dehydrate well. I like dehydrated swiss chard in my soups and stews in the winter - nice to add something green to them, and free :)

If I freeze some, I usually just dump the pot into a very large strainer, and then run cold water over it or stick it in a sink full of cold/iced water. That's to stop it from cooking any further, so you are freezing it only partially cooked. Without the cooling process, it continues to cook.

Angela said...

Marci--Thanks! I thought about leaving it in, but have a bunch of new spinach coming up, so it's okay that it's gone. I'm going to use that space to plant something else now. And I actually forgot to "properly" cool the blanched greens. So I could have waited until I had it all chopped and put it all in the boiling water together and then dumped it all in the collander and cooled it or I could have dropped my cheesecloth bag in cold water after it cooked before opening it. Thanks again for the comment.

Anonymous said...

its best to toss anything blanched into a big bowl of ice water. if you let it cool on its own it will continue to cook until its cooled.

American Prepper said...

Thanks for the info on spinach. That's my favorite vegetable. I love eating spinach both cooked and fresh out of the garden. I didnt know you could freeze it. Good Post! Also, thanks for joining our contest!

Anna said...

I had really good results freezing both spinach and swiss chard last year. It's all good stuff.

The Hermit said...

I like spinach dip but I have never liked just eating spinach.

TheSurvivalMom said...

Thanks for the detailed instructions! I'm always looking for ways to preserve foods on my own.

Oh,thanks for linking to my blog! That was a nice surprise!

Anonymous said...

Chrissy says

I have cooked a dish with spinach and made way to much. I just really want to know if I can freeze it without any problems as would hate to waste the rest.

Angela said...

chrissy--it depends on what else is in the dish, but the spinach will freeze and thaw fine. Potatoes don't freeze well, but most other veggies do. Thanks for the comment.