Eating more leafy greens like spinach is a great way to boost your health. Spinach is packed with vitamins like A, C and K as well as minerals like iron, calcium and potassium. Having a stash of frozen spinach on hand makes it easy to add nutrients to meals and smoothies.
Freezing spinach allows you to preserve the nutrients while extending the shelf life. With frozen spinach, you can enjoy the benefits of spinach year-round without waste. Read on to learn the best practices for freezing and storing fresh spinach.
Benefits of Freezing Spinach
Here are some of the top advantages of freezing spinach:
- Convenience – Frozen spinach is pre-washed and ready to use in recipes like quiches, casseroles, soups, smoothies and more.
- Nutrient retention – Blanching spinach before freezing helps retain the nutrients like vitamins A, C, K, folate, magnesium and more.
- Longer shelf life – Properly stored frozen spinach maintains quality and nutrients for 8-12 months in the freezer.
- Less waste – Freezing spinach prevents spoilage so you can use just what you need and save the rest for later.
- Year-round availability – Enjoy the nutritional benefits of spinach regardless of season or availability.
- Value – Buying spinach in bulk when it’s in season and freezing saves money versus buying fresh year-round.
Selecting Spinach for Freezing
To get the best results from frozen spinach, start with fresh, high-quality leaves:
- Choose spinach with vibrant, deep green leaves. Avoid yellow or slimy leaves.
- Select young, tender spinach leaves which freeze better than older, thicker leaves.
- Wash leaves thoroughly to remove any dirt or debris.
- Inspect leaves and discard any that are damaged, wilted or discolored.
- Organic, local spinach is ideal, but conventional spinach is fine too as long as it looks fresh.
- Store fresh spinach refrigerated until ready to freeze.
How to Freeze Spinach
Follow these simple steps for freezing spinach:
- Wash the spinach. Rinse leaves thoroughly under cool running water. Gently rub leaves to remove any dirt. Drain water and pat leaves dry with a paper towel or clean dish cloth.
- Remove stems. Cut or pinch off any thick, fibrous stems which can become tough when frozen. Discard stems.
- Blanch the spinach. To preserve color, texture and nutrients, spinach should be briefly blanched before freezing. To blanch, drop spinach leaves into boiling water for 1-2 minutes until just wilted. Drain and immediately plunge leaves into an ice bath to stop the cooking process.
- Drain and squeeze dry. Use a colander to drain off excess water. Then gather spinach in small batches in a clean dish cloth or paper towels and squeeze gently to remove as much moisture as possible.
- Pack spinach for freezing. Place squeezed dry spinach into freezer bags, pressing out excess air. Seal bags tightly. An alternative is to pack spinach into rigid freezer containers. Press down to remove air pockets before sealing lids.
- Label and freeze. Write the date and contents on bags or containers. Freeze spinach immediately at 0°F or below. For quick cooling, you can spread bags flat in a single layer on a tray before transferring to the freezer.
How Much Spinach Per Bag/Container?
A good guideline is to pack approximately:
- 2 cups raw spinach per pint-size freezer bag
- 4 cups raw spinach per quart-size freezer bag
- 1 pound raw spinach per freezer container
Adjust amounts according to your anticipated use. For larger quantities, consider allocating to meal-size portions.
Storage Times for Frozen Spinach
For best quality, frozen spinach will keep:
- 6-8 months at 0°F
- 3-4 months at 0-10°F
- 2-3 months at 10-20°F
At higher freezer temperatures, storage time decreases. Only keep frozen spinach as long as it retains its vibrant green color and firm texture.
Tips for Freezing Spinach
Follow these tips for successfully freezing and storing spinach:
- Freeze spinach as soon as possible after purchasing or harvesting.
- Use high-quality freezer bags or containers to prevent freezer burn.
- Exclude as much air as possible to minimize oxidation and quality loss.
- Avoid overcrowding freezer to allow proper air circulation.
- Store spinach consistently at 0°F or below.
- Use oldest spinach first to rotate out your frozen supply.
Thawing Frozen Spinach
Thaw frozen spinach in the refrigerator overnight. For a quicker thaw, place the sealed spinach bag or container under running cold water. Once thawed, use immediately.
You can cook frozen spinach directly without thawing first. Add frozen spinach straight to soups, casseroles, pasta dishes and more at the end of cooking. The heat will naturally thaw and warm it.
For smoothies, thaw frozen spinach overnight in the fridge or use a small amount of fresh spinach and supplement with your frozen stash.
Freezing Cooked Spinach
In some cases, you may want to freeze cooked spinach to use in recipes. Follow these steps:
- Wash fresh spinach and remove any tough stems as described above.
- Chop or slice spinach leaves into desired sizes.
- Blanch the prepped spinach for just 30 seconds to 1 minute until wilted.
- Drain spinach and let cool slightly.
- Transfer blanched spinach to a baking sheet and spread in an even layer.
- Place sheet in freezer until spinach is fully frozen, about 2 hours.
- Remove frozen spinach pieces and transfer to labeled freezer bags or containers.
- Store at 0°F or below for 4-6 months.
This pre-cooked spinach can be easily added to recipes like frittatas, hand pies, pasta fillings and more.
Recipe Ideas Using Frozen Spinach
Here are some simple ways to use your frozen spinach:
- Smoothies – Add a handful of frozen spinach to berry or tropical fruit smoothies.
- Eggs – Mix frozen spinach into scrambled eggs or add to quiche and frittata fillings.
- Pasta – Combine frozen spinach with pasta, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and parmesan.
- Soups – Stir frozen spinach into chicken noodle soup, tomato soup, or cream of mushroom soup.
- Pizza – Defrost spinach and squeeze dry. Spread a layer over pizza dough before adding other toppings.
- Casseroles – Mix frozen spinach into dishes like lasagna, eggplant parmesan, or cheesy rice and pasta bakes.
- Quesadillas – Saute thawed spinach with onions and garlic. Add to quesadilla fillings along with cheese.
Freezing spinach is simple, budget-friendly and helps reduce food waste. Follow proper blanching, cooling, and storage techniques to get the most out of your frozen spinach. Use within 6-12 months for best quality and nutrition.
Having a stash of frozen spinach makes it easy to add nutrients to so many dishes. Work it into smoothies, eggs, pasta, pizza, soups, casseroles and more. With frozen spinach on hand, you’ll enjoy the benefits of spinach any time of year.