Spinach Leaves

Fresh spinach leaves should be green in color with no brown spots. Spinach leaves are an incredibly versatile vegetable with many delicious uses. Selecting, preparing, and even growing your own fresh spinach leaves can be a simple task that results in a healthy nutritious addition to any meal.



Selecting Spinach Leaves

Spinach leaves are generally sold fresh, canned and frozen. When purchasing fresh spinach leaves, do not rely on expiration dates of the package alone. Spinach leaves inside the package should be a solid green color and have no signs of brown spots or mold. They should not look wilted. Spinach leaves generally come pre-packaged in clear bags or boxes, but at times spinach is offered loosely for a customer to select their own portion. Both regular and organic options exist for fresh spinach leaves, so if organic is preferred check your local grocer's organic section. Fresh spinach leaves generally only have a shelf life of only a few days, so plan to purchase fresh spinach within an appropriate time frame for usage.


Preparing Spinach Leaves

Spinach leaves can be served by themselves or added to other dishes. Cooked spinach leaves are a tasty addition to soups, pasta dishes, egg dishes and breads. When fresh spinach leaves are incorporated into recipes, they tend to wilt quickly when cooked, losing their firmness. Expect fresh spinach leaves to lose approximately 90% of their size when cooked. Before cooking with fresh spinach leaves, be sure to thoroughly wash them in a strainer. Another method of cleaning leaves is to place them into a bowl full of water and swirl them around to help rinse them. They should then be drained of the water and allowed to dry. A salad spinner can be used to more thoroughly and quickly dry fresh spinach leaves.


Canned Spinach can be a cost effective alternative to fresh leaves


However, when cooking with spinach, it is not necessary to use fresh spinach leaves. Canned or frozen spinach leaves can be a more cost effective substitution for fresh spinach depending on the season. Canned and frozen spinach leaves can also be easier to work with when incorporating it into recipes such as lasagna because it has already reduced in size through the freezing or canning process and there won't be as much water loss as it cooks.


Growing Fresh Spinach Leaves

Spinach is an extremely fast and easy to grow plant. This vegetable is a great plant to grow for even the most novice gardener. Spinach can also be fun to plant with kids since it grows so quickly. The most common predators of spinach are rabbits and fungus, therefore; spinach is a great candidate for growing in pots. Spinach prefers a very fertile soil, which is easy to accomplish when growing in pots. Spinach can grow in sunny or shady locations. If planted in pots, be sure to water regularly to ensure it does not dry out. Spinach will be ready for harvest in just a few weeks, when leaves are appropriate in size for their desired use. When seeding spinach, plan on planting smaller crops every few weeks to ensure a more constant crop harvest. Otherwise, excess spinach leaves can be frozen for later use. Spinach leaves should be washed, blanched and mostly dry of excessive water before being placed into freezer safe bags and frozen.

Spinach leaves are a versatile, readily available, and easy to grow vegetable. They can be incorporated into an endless amount of recipes for delicious results, plus you can wow your friends with your green thumb as a result of growing your own fresh spinach leaves.

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