How To Freeze Spinach
Ideas On How To Freeze Spinach
Having an idea or two about how to freeze spinach can be helpful if you've planted more than can be eaten in one or two sittings, and the spinach crop is on the verge of bolting and going to seed. There are those times when, as much as we'd like to, we can't eat everything fresh from the garden because there's just too much of it. Some vegetables freeze well, others don't. Spinach is one of those that does, and being a power-packed vegetable in terms of nutrition, it's nice to be able to set some aside for later, after harvest time has come and gone.
There's a couple of schools of thought on how to freeze spinach, and you might wish to try them both to see which is going to work best for you. If you've been taught that one way and only one way is best, that's fine. But you can always set a little spinach aside, and try a different approach. You might be pleasantly surprised, or decide the method you're used too is really the best after all.
Blanch and Freeze, Method 1 - The way most people have learned how to freeze spinach is by blanching it first in boiling water. This process destroys enzymes in the spinach, which would otherwise take away both flavor and nutrition, and even change its color to something less palatable looking. A rule of thumb is to blanch the spinach for 2 minutes and then place the leaves directly in ice water for another 2 minutes, to stop the cooking process. The spinach is then allowed to drain, placed in freezer bags, and put in the freezer.
A vacuum food sealer is really best for preparing the blanched spinach for storing, but Ziploc bags will work fine as long as you get as much air out of the bag as possible. Leaving a small opening while the bag is pressed flat usually accomplishes this. One concern that some have, is that blanching the spinach for that long of a time, is just the same as cooking it. In truth, it almost is, but the frozen spinach you purchase at the store is usually cooked anyway. You won't find frozen "fresh" spinach on the freezer shelves. Blanching does not usually completely cook the spinach, the cooking process is completed when you heat your frozen spinach up.
Blanch And Freeze, Method 2 - A second method is similar to the first, except the spinach is blanched by steaming it rather than placing it in boiling water. The spinach is placed in a steamer basket just above a pot of boiling water, and steamed for a minute or two, or until the leaves have wilted. Some who use this method place the steamed spinach in ice water, others simply let it cool on its own. Both methods seem to work, and also seem to work as well as boiling the spinach does. Either way, the spinach, once placed in the freezer, has a shelf life of about a year.
Just Freeze It - If you have a salad spinner, this is probably the easiest method of all. Wash the spinach leaves (removing the stems is best), place them in the spinner, and spin them dry. Then chop the leaves into small pieces and put the chopped spinach in freezer bags, getting as much air out as possible. If you're concerned about enzymes running amok and destroying your spinach while it's in the freezer, consider only doing a small batch the first time, and see how it works out.
Make A Spinach Dish Or Appetizer - If you have a good recipe, such as spinach pasta, the spinach dish can be prepared and frozen instead of just freezing the leaves. Pasta dishes tend to freeze very well, and it can be convenient to have one or two on hand for a later time. One rather intriguing idea is a spinach appetizer, which consists of finely chopped and blanched spinach, mixed with seasoned stuffing mix, grated Parmesan cheese, and salted and peppered to taste. The ingredients are rolled into small, bite-sized balls, and then frozen, to be heated and served later as appetizers. Perhaps you can come up with your own recipe for a spinach dish or appetizer, and add it to the list of how to freeze spinach.