Spinach is well-loved worldwide for its versatility and incredible nutritional profile. Therefore, it’s not uncommon for people to have an excess of spinach at hand that they can’t use in time.
As such, knowing how to freeze spinach properly will not only help you prevent excess waste, but also enjoy this nutritional vegetable’s earthy taste well into the future. Read the guide below and learn how to preserve fresh, healthy spinach longer.
Can You Freeze Spinach?
Yes, you can! Like most vegetables, spinach is safe to freeze.
This texture change won’t be a problem if you use frozen spinach in cooked dishes. Thawing frozen spinach and incorporating it into pasta, soup, or stir-fry dishes is a great way to get healthy greens into your meals.
How to Tell If Spinach Has Gone Bad
Recognizing spoiled food is one way to prevent foodborne illnesses.
For spinach, you can use your senses to identify bad leaves. Discard your spinach if it starts to show the following signs:
- Darkened leaves
- Black spots on the leaves
- Slimy or moldy texture
- A strong sour smell
How to Freeze Spinach
1. For Smoothies
For a quick energy boost, consider adding frozen spinach cubes to your smoothies. Their mild and earthy taste can be easily added to your drinks without disrupting the other ingredients’ flavors.
First, only choose bright-colored spinach leaves and wash them thoroughly under cold water. Next, use a paper towel to dry them completely, then throw the spinach leaves into the blender.
Pour in 1-2 cups of water and blend to a paste. When it has blended nicely, pour the mixture into an ice cube tray and place it in the freezer until the cubes are solid (usually around 3-4 hours).
Once solid, take out the frozen cubes and put them into freezer-friendly bags.
Make sure to remove as much air as possible. You can do this by squeezing the bags before sealing.
Finally, label, date, and store those bags in the freezer for up to 3 months.
When you’re ready to make a smoothie, throw the frozen spinach cubes straight into your high-powered blender.
If your blender isn’t of the high-powered variety, place them in the fridge to defrost. After a few minutes, the cubes will be watery, making it easier for you to blend them.
Freezing Spinach Leaves
The best way to freeze spinach long-term is to blanch it before freezing. Blanching prevents the enzyme action that causes your spinach to spoil over time.
Be aware that, at the same time, several types of nutrients in your spinach will be destroyed during the blanching process. As a result, your frozen spinach will have different nutritional content from fresh spinach.
There are two standard ways to blanch: boiling and steaming.
Boiling, or water blanching, is usually the most common way to blanch vegetables. This method is quicker by a few minutes compared to steaming.
On the other hand, steaming can maintain a higher nutritional value, as the vegetable’s nutrients won’t be extracted like they would be in hot water.
Overall, both methods work well and have their advantages as well as disadvantages. In the end, however, you will be able to preserve your spinach for the next 10-12 months with either of them.
- Wash the spinach thoroughly. As you’re washing, check for any brown leaves and discard them.
- Fill a pot full of water and bring it to a boil whilst preparing a bowl of iced water nearby.
- Add your spinach to the boiling water and cook it for 1-2 minutes.
- Take the spinach out and submerge it in the iced water to let it cool down.
- Drain and pat dry the spinach gently with a paper towel.
- Put it in resealable bags (squeeze all the air out before sealing).
- Label, date the bags and store them in your freezer.
To steam blanch, bring a pot filled with water to a boil.
Next, put a steamer basket right above the boiling water. Place your spinach in the basket in a single layer to ensure that all the leaves will be steamed evenly.
Cover the pot tightly and keep a high heat. Let the spinach steam for 2-3 minutes.
Freezing Spinach Without Blanching
Another way you can preserve your spinach is by freezing it fresh (or unblanched). To do this, apply the instructions of freezing spinach leaves mentioned before but leave out the blanching steps.
Be mindful that your spinach will likely spoil quicker. Without the blanching step, enzymatic action will not be delayed. Use this method only when you’re planning to use the spinach within 3 weeks.
Tips to help maximize the shelf life of your frozen spinach:
- Reduce oxygen exposure by squeezing out all of the air in the freezer bag. If possible, consider vacuum sealing.
- Place frozen spinach in the lowest temperature part of the freezer (usually at the bottom of the freezer).
- Avoid storing frozen spinach close to fruits as most of them tend to produce ethylene gas. This gas will make your spinach decay quicker if it comes in contact with those fruits.
By learning how to freeze spinach, you can preserve it for up to a year. That is plenty of time for you to figure out how to deal with all of the leafy veggies sitting in your freezer.