Who else remembers the Popeye cartoons? If you do, congratulations, you are almost my age! Joking aside, the cartoons featured spinach as its main trope to promote it as a great source of health and strength. The funny part is that spinach actually contains ecdysterone, a type of steroid that boosts strength and muscular growth. Of course, I don’t think it’s necessary to point out that the way it’s displayed in the cartoon is a bit misleading, but it doesn’t stray too far from the truth. Spinach is also a great source of vitamins A, B9, C, and K1. It also provides antioxidants, carotenoids, nitrates, and minerals for a myriad of purposes. However, in excess, it could lead to other problems such as kidney stones and blood clots, so it should be consumed in moderation. If you feel you have too much spinach on your shelf that can’t be eaten in a short span of time, these questions may be of relevance to you. Can you freeze fresh spinach? How long does spinach last in the fridge?
You can freeze fresh spinach in its raw form to prolong its entropic process, although you’ll have to be able to deal with some of the common shortcomings of freezing green or leafy vegetables. One of the inevitable consequences of freezing spinach is that you’ll not be able to use it effectively on salads or other fresh recipes. But if you are freezing spinach for smoothies or artichoke dips, this won’t be much concern.
There is also a procedure that is common for freezing virtually all green vegetables, which we’ll outline below.
The first thing you need to do is clean the raw spinach in a gentle manner. You shouldn’t try to soak it in water so much, just try to clean it to remove the impurities. Meanwhile, separate the old leaves from the fresh ones and discard the woody stems.
Next, you should probably blanch it. Blanching inhibits the enzymes that degrade the color, texture, and flavor of most green vegetables over time. To blanch, you’ll need a bowl of ice water on the side and a saucepan with boiling water. Submerge the spinach in boiling water for a few minutes (2 minutes should be more than enough). Then, remove the spinach from the boiling water with tongs and throw it in the ice water for 2-3 minutes. Finally, put it on a strainer to drain and use a paper towel to absorb moisture.
After all that is done, gently squeeze the spinach to remove the excess water out of it and place it in airtight freezer or Ziploc bags, making sure that there is no air inside or able to get in. After that, stow it in the freezer.
You can optionally pre-freeze individual leaves by placing them in a muffin pan with parchment paper. Place the pan in the freezer for about 3 hours and then proceed to transfer the spinach to the freezer bags.
NOTE: You can freeze the spinach while unblanched, but you should be able to consume it all within the first 2 weeks of freezing since it’ll get a bit unpleasant to eat after that time.
Definitely. Spinach is no exception to the rule that leafy greens lose freshness in the freezer, owing to the formation of ice crystals that deteriorates their cellular structure. This is the reason why frozen greens are usually not employed in salads or raw recipes. They can still be added to cooked recipes such as soups, stews, or sauces.
Totally not recommended. If the spinach needs refreezing, then make sure it has not achieved room temperature, otherwise, you’ll need to find a way to consume it or ultimately discard it. At room temperature, bacteria will thrive in the spinach, owing to its high water content. Also, the texture and flavor will degrade with each refreezing and thawing.
In the fridge, spinach will hold its own for a maximum of 7 days at a temperature of 40º F or below. After that time, it will unquestionably experience spoilage.
In the freezer, these bagged spinach will not spoil but will begin to lose considerable quality after 12 months, even if properly packed.
If you need to thaw spinach, the best and safest way is by storing the frozen pack in the fridge and let it rest there overnight. Another way to do it faster is to place the pack under cold water for a while, changing the water every 30 minutes or so, thus avoiding exposure to room temperature. It’s not advisable to use the microwave to defrost the spinach, as there is the danger of overheating it.
Frozen spinach is almost meant to be cooked while frozen. Save for very specific circumstances, there is absolutely no need to thaw it. It’s even sold frozen in some places! You only need to withdraw the frozen bagged spinach from the freezer, extract the portions and toss them in whatever hot dish you’re making at that moment, whether it’s boiled, fried, roasted, or baked. Just make sure it’s not spoiled and be aware that you’ll need some extra cooking time.