The health benefits of spinach are impossible to deny, which is an excellent reason to eat the leafy green regularly. The vegetable is most famous for its high iron content (fame that partly comes from the Popeye comic books and TV show), but contains plenty of other nutrients too, such as calcium, folate, and magnesium.
These days, spinach often features in smoothies, salads, quiches, pasta bakes, and many more recipes. There are also many other ways to use leafy greens like spinach, ensuring that you’ll never run out of ideas.
Still, spinach doesn’t need to be complicated. Many people simply sauté it, often with garlic, and eat it like that. Using spinach instead of lettuce in a salad also works well – and those are just a few options.
Yet, despite all these approaches, sometimes you have more spinach than you need. So, why not learn how to freeze spinach? Doing so is very easy and means your spinach won’t go to waste. Frozen spinach can even be used in plenty of recipes and you often don’t even need to thaw it.
How To Freeze Spinach (3 Different Techniques!)
So then, we’re looking at freezing spinach, as a way of making it last longer. There are actually three different techniques you can follow.
In all cases, you’ll first need to check your spinach leaves and remove any that are discolored or shriveled. Your spinach will need to be thoroughly washed as well. After all, freezing food doesn’t actually kill bacteria, so you need to ensure the spinach is safe before you put it in the freezer.
1. Freezing Spinach As-Is
The best approach for freezing spinach is the simplest – you just throw your spinach leaves in a bag, get out as much oxygen as you can, and then put the bag in the freezer.
The main catch is that your spinach needs to be dry before you put it in the freezer. Otherwise ice crystals will form and the spinach won’t last as long.
Thankfully, this is a non-issue if you buy bags of prewashed baby spinach from the grocery store. You can simply use as much of the spinach as you want, then put the rest in a resealable bag and straight into the freezer.
2. Blanching Then Freezing Spinach
Another option is to blanch your spinach first. Here, you’re first throwing your spinach into boiling water for a minute, then removing it from the water and plunging it into a bowl of cold water and ice.
After this, you’ll need to fully dry the spinach. Once it is dry, you can add it to a bag and remove the air, just like we discussed in the previous step.
3. Making And Freezing Spinach Puree
The third approach is a little different. Here you’re blitzing raw spinach in a blender with a small amount of liquid. Doing so gives you a simple spinach puree that you can then freeze.
To make this approach ultra-convenient, place the spinach puree in an ice cube tray and then freeze it for a day. Once your little spinach cubes are frozen, you can take them out of the tray and store them in a bag.
Freezing spinach like this is fantastic if you plan to use the spinach in a smoothie. However, it’s pretty useless if you want to use the leaves whole instead.
Do You Need To Blanch Spinach First?
Blanching spinach is often recommended, as doing so helps your spinach to last longer and to retain its color. However, doing so adds extra steps to the process and can be quite a hassle.
Some food bloggers also mention that the difference in outcomes between blanched spinach and non-blanched isn’t that dramatic anyway. Even with blanching, you might find that your spinach develops ice crystals after a few months. So, why not skip the extra effort?
If nothing else, blanching is largely a waste if you’re going to use your spinach in a month or two.
How Long Does Frozen Spinach Last?
If you buy frozen spinach from the store, it can retain its quality in your freezer for a year and may still be safe to eat months after this point. The quality will be best if the bag is kept sealed throughout this time. If you open the bag, try to transfer any remaining spinach to an air-tight container or resealable bag. This will help preserve its quality for as long as possible.
Frozen spinach you make at home won’t generally last things long. You might get up to six months from it if you blanch the spinach first and around three months if you don’t.
What Happens When You Thaw Spinach?
Regardless of your approach, freezing spinach causes water to expand and then contract, breaking the cell walls. This means that the spinach will always end up watery once it is thawed.
This is an unavoidable effect. It even happens with spinach that has been flash frozen by manufacturers and with other types of frozen vegetables.
Because spinach gets softer and more watery, you can’t use it in any spinach-based recipe where texture matters. Don’t even think about using the spinach in a salad. Seriously. It would be awful.
Recipes where spinach is blended or cooked are a different story. The texture of spinach doesn’t matter as much here, so frozen spinach will work just fine.
How Do You Use Frozen Spinach?
Most of the time, you won’t need to thaw frozen spinach. Instead, you might cook it from frozen or even simply throw it into a hot dish and stir it in. This includes adding frozen spinach to soups, stews, and pasta.
Using frozen spinach in a smoothie is even easier, as you can throw the spinach leaves or frozen spinach cubes directly in the blender. Doing so might even allow you to use less ice.
Recipes That Use Frozen Spinach
Saag Aloo Spinach & Potato Curry
This Saag Aloo recipe is stunning in so many ways. For one thing, the meal is packed with flavor, partly due to the use of warming spices. It’s also a very healthy dish that provides plenty of nutrients and is even vegan friendly.
Serve this one alongside rice and you have a filling meal that doesn’t even need extra sides. Plus, because this recipe was designed to use frozen spinach, there aren’t any substitutions to make.
Sauteed Spinach With Garlic
This Sauteed Spinach with Garlic recipe is as straightforward as it sounds. That’s not a bad thing, though; everyone needs to start somewhere. Besides, sauteed spinach is the base for many dishes and works well as a side, so why not learn how to make it?
Interestingly, this particular version uses white wine as one of the main ingredients, which contributes to the flavor of the spinach (don’t worry, most of the alcohol will evaporate during cooking).
Spinach Artichoke Baked Feta Dip
Spinach artichoke dip is famous, but can be a bit boring at times. Why not mix things up with a recipe like this Spinach Artichoke Baked Feta Dip?
As the name suggests, the recipe uses feta cheese, spinach, and artichoke hearts as prominent ingredients. The feta adds a tanginess that you don’t get with regular spinach artichoke dip. There’s also mozzarella cheese, cream cheese, and nutmeg in the recipe to make it even more exciting.
Spanakopita Spring Rolls
Spanakopita is traditionally a savory Greek spinach pie that tastes delicious and has layers of flaky pastry. These Spanakopita Spring Rolls follow the same flavor theme as the traditional recipe, but feature egg roll wrappers instead of the traditional pastry.
While swapping away from pastry changes the texture of spanakopita, doing so gives you a finger food version of the dish, one that offers the same traditional flavors. This could be a great version to serve at a party, perhaps with some delicious dips.
Easy White Spinach Pizza
Finally, we have this Easy White Spinach Pizza. The recipe can be made on any type of pizza bake you like and you only need a handful of ingredients to make the topping.
You might even have most of the ingredients on hand already, as the recipe relies on things like olive oil, garlic powder, shredded mozzarella, salt, and pepper. The most uncommon ingredient is goat cheese, but even that isn’t too difficult to find.
The recipe is unusual in that you’re thawing the spinach before using it. Doing so allows you to stir spices and mozzarella through the spinach, making it even tastier.
Other Ways To Preserve Spinach
If you don’t want to freeze spinach, you could try dehydrating it instead. This is easiest if you have a home dehydrator. The trick is to spread the leaves out well so that there aren’t any large clumps. Doing so ensures that the spinach dries out quickly and evenly.
Once the spinach has been dehydrated, you can easily turn it into a powder, which is where it becomes extremely useful.
This powder is a great way to get the nutrients of spinach without much impact on the flavor or texture of your meal. This is particularly true if you add powdered spinach to something with a strong flavor, like pasta sauce.
If your spinach has been fully dehydrated and stored well, then it can last for a few months and possibly up to a year. When doing this, make sure your spinach has dried completely. Removing it from the dehydrator too early will dramatically decrease its shelf life.
If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can get the same effect by using your oven instead. You’ll want to use one of the lowest temperature settings on your oven and keep an eye on the spinach to make sure it dries out rather than burns.
Freeze Drying Spinach
Freeze dried spinach lasts even longer than dehydrated spinach. The process is simple, but you need a specialized freeze dryer at home.
If you store the spinach very well, it may last 20 years or perhaps more in a sealed container. However, that’s only true if the jar remains completely unopened.
Once you’ve opened it, it’s best to use the spinach within a couple of months. You might be able to stretch this out to six months, but going far beyond that isn’t advisable.
Pressure Canning Spinach
Finally, there’s pressure canning. You can do this with spinach on its own or with a mix of dark leafy greens, such as this recipe for canning collards, kale, and chard.
When doing so, you’ll need to follow regular safety practices for canning. This includes ensuring there’s no contamination risk and that you’re only canning healthy and high quality vegetables (remove any brown or wilting spinach leaves before you begin).
While canning is a great way to preserve spinach for a long time, it does have some downsides. One is that the flavor and texture of canned spinach doesn’t appeal to everyone. You also need a lot of spinach to can it successfully. This isn’t at all helpful if you only have a little leftover spinach. A decent amount of effort is involved too, making this a project to think about carefully before you begin.