This warm and wet spring weather means lots of big leaves on the spinach plants. It also means we’ll have it longer before it goes to seed, if the heat of summer stays away for a few weeks.
Robert picks the spinach after it’s been watered or after a good rain. . .after it’s had time to dry. He then puts it into dry plastic bags and stores in the refrigerator until I can find the time to start cleaning, blanching, and freezing. He actually does the washing part while I chop, blanch, and bag. The other night we managed to put up eighteen bags containing two servings each.
We’ve been eating it every other day in various forms: raw in wraps and salads, sauteed briefly in olive oil, garlic, and silvered almonds, in lasagna, omelets and just plain steamed.
Medical News Today reports the breakdown of what is contained in one cup of raw spinach: It “contains 27 calories, 0.86 grams of protein, 30 milligrams of calcium, 0.81 grams of iron, 24 milligrams of magnesium, 167 milligrams of potassium, 2813 IUs of Vitamin A and 58 micrograms of folate.”
We might get one more big picking before it’s done. But that’s thirty-eight meals of spinach for the winter and a few more meals with fresh spinach before the season ends. Then we’ll start on the peas, which are now climbing their chicken wire fence and reaching for the sun.
I’d love to hear from you on what’s going on in your garden or what you’re eating from the local farmer’s markets. Ours, filled with lots of local food grown in western Pennsylvania, are just opening for the season.
Our book From Seed to Table provides lots of gardening tips and recipes. Here are the steps I follow for blanching and freezing bags of spinach (in two-serving bags):
Blanching and freezing spinach
Note: The blanching steps below may be followed for most vegetables with variation in the time the vegetable is in the boiling water. The recipe below preserves as much of the vitamins and taste as possible. Our frozen spinach is green and tastes “almost” like we’d just picked it.
- Wash the leaves – Put the leaves in a sink of cold water and carefully wash off all dirt and grass. Put in colander to drain.
- Chop the leaves – I didn’t do this last year, and I was sorry. While the spinach tasted great, it was a bit stringy. I chopped them into about 1-inch squares.
- Blanch – Bring a big pot of water to boil and place one colander full of leaves into the water for two minutes.
- Ice water bath – Submerge in ice water for another two minutes.
- Place in colander in a large bowl or pot and let drain for a few minutes.
- Put into freezer bag that is labeled and dated.
One colander full equals two servings and fits perfectly into a freezer sandwich bag. It’s fine if some water is in the bag – it’s probably better for the spinach.