spinach - one of the versatile leafy greens. it is nutritious, easily available, and has a ton of nutritional value. it is easy to add spinach to your diet in a variety of forms - add it to your sabji's/stir-fry, make curries with it, and also add it to pasta and to smoothies. this makes it a refrigerator staple. have you bought extra spinach only to find them rotten and slimy a few days later? did you plan to have a zero-waste kitchen and had to throw out wilted and spoiled spinach? you are not alone. been there, done that. I have done some research and found out how you store spinach fresh for longer. let's dig right in.
if you are like me and grocery shop once a week and buy greens to last an entire week, there is a chance that by the end of the week, there will be some spoiled spinach unusable by the end of the week.
though it is best to eat fresh vegetables within 2-3 days of buying them, it is good to know these tricks to keep your produce fresh longer - especially if you are striving to either eat healthily, include more vegetables and fruits in your diet, save money, aspiring for zero waste or all of the above.
why does spinach spoil fast?
before we delve into how to keep spinach fresh for longer, we have to look into why they spoil so fast. they are delicate!
- have delicate leaves and stems unlike hardier leafy greens like kale or chard or mustard leaves.
- are more prone to getting "injured" while harvesting, transporting, storing.
- have a higher level of moisture content making them susceptible to spoiling sooner.
this in turn gives us an idea about how to store spinach.
- they have to be handled delicately
- moisture is the enemy
how to clean spinach
you can find fresh spinach, already cleaned and in plastic bags or sometimes with the roots.
if you bought cleaned spinach in plastic bags, move on to the next section.
if you have some freshly harvested spinach or you bought spinach from market and had dirt and roots etc. , you first have to wash the spinach.
- trim off the roots.
- fill a large bowl with clean water and swish the spinach in it. Gently lift the leaves and transfer them to a large colander or sieve to drain. discard the dirty water.
- repeat until all the dirt is gone. You may have to do this a few times to get rid of all the dirt depending on how dirty was the spinach in the first place.
moisture is the enemy - what to do?
since we know extra moisture is definitely the enemy to longer lasting fresh spinach, the key for a longer storage will be to avoid the additional moisture:
to keep the spinach leaves fresh longer, dry them on a paper towel.
spread them on a clean paper towel in a single layer and let them dry out.
at this point, look for already wilted, or slimy leaves. discard them. and let the good leaves dry.
if you have a salad spinner, you can use that to remove excess water.
how to store fresh spinach in the refrigerator?
at this point, we have removed badly wilted and slimy leaves. washed and dried the spinach leaves.
now we can store them in the refrigerator.
- use a large empty container (i prefer to use a clear container).
- line with a paper towel. place a layer of spinach into the container.
- top it with a layer of paper towel.
- place the next layer of the spinach and top it with paper towels.
- repeat the layering process until all the spinach is used up.
- the topmost layer should be a paper towel.
- store the container in the refrigerator.
should you do this for already cleaned spinach in plastic bags?
YES! remove the spinach from the plastic bags/plastic box. even if they are prewashed, there might a few wilted/slimy leaves in the plastic bag. remove them and do the steps listed under - how to store fresh spinach in the refrigerator? - to keep them fresh longer.
how to freeze spinach?
you can freeze spinach for later use. this is especially good if you like them in your smoothies.
Make sure you have thoroughly clean spinach before you freeze them.
- I have frozen fresh spinach leaves in freezer-safe bags and stored them in the freezer. I used them directly in my smoothies.
- you can also chop fresh spinach and store them portion-sized, in freezer safe bags/containers.
- blanch the spinach leaves in a pot of hot water, dunk them in cold water. Squeeze out the excess water and store it in freezer-safe bags/containers.
I have shared a few of my family's favorites that use spinach. You can use them in pastas, smoothies, make them into sabji's, and add them to curries.
the radish leaves pakoras are special. You can use spinach leaves if you do not have radish leaves handy.