Friday, May 30, 2014


Yesterday when I was taking photos from the garden for my post, I took one of the spinach. The Space spinach had grown so much in the last week. It was time to do my first harvest. Now I've been doing small harvests for a week or so now, but just enough for my salads. This batch was going to be saved for next winter. I wanted to pick as much as I could without slowing the harvests down. Last time I talked about preserving my spinach I got question on how I did it. So this time I'll go through the whole process.

I grow my spinach under a row cover because we have leaf miners here. They come out toward the beginning of May and just keep on laying eggs all year long until it freezes up. You can pick the small white eggs off of the back of the leaves, but I grow a whole 4'x 8' bed of spinach so that would be way too much work. As you can see I have a small stool because it saves on my back and knees. I keep my basket in my shadow as I pick so the leaves don't wilt. And I try to keep the bed mostly covered as I work to make sure those leaf miner flies don't get in.

Since the spinach isn't bolting yet, it will have a little more time to grow. I don't want to pick too many of the leaves. Above is what the bed was like when I was done. I want to leave plenty of leaves for the plant to make more and I don't want to stress it out too much and force it to bolt, which isn't far off regardless. As it was I only got 1.7 lbs of spinach out of the patch. Last year's harvests were so much better. But then we didn't have a late spring like this year.

I washed the spinach well and blanched it for 2 minutes. If you have never blanched anything before it is important to use a large pot and don't put too much produce in to blanch at a time. You want the water to start at a boil and though it would be nice if it stayed that way, the spinach does cool it down. It ought to start boiling again before the process is done at the very least. If not use a larger pot, or put in less spinach at once.

When my timer beeps at me, I scoop it out of the pot. Use something big enough that scooping doesn't take long. I scoop because don't want to toss that boiling water away as I blanch in small batches. When I scoop, it goes right into a pan of ice water. You need enough ice in it so that it doesn't all melt by the time the spinach has cooled down. And once it is in the water, stir. Cool the spinach down as fast as possible.

Then you have to freeze it. I freeze leafy greens in blocks - two per container, squeezing out the water before I freeze it. For spinach I like a block that is just over 1/2 cup. Kale tends to be about 2/3 of a cup. I'm not sure why, but I like eating those portions so that is how I make them. The US says a serving is 1/2 of a cup of vegetables. The UK says 80g. The uncooked spinach is about 5 ounces in each block or 140 grams.

Once that block is frozen, I pop it out. If I'm freezing in the fall sometimes I get lazy and just put it in a zipper bag. But it is still spring and these have to stay frozen for a long time to last the whole winter. So I will vacuum seal these. I also store my produce in a chest freezer. Your typical freezer is a frost free freezer. It heats up the walls to melt the ice that forms. Produce doesn't keep in that kind of freezer very well before the quality drops. Maybe 2 months. But in my chest freezer I still have some of last year's produce and it tastes good. At least in the vacuum bags. In a zipper bag would be freezer burned by now.


  1. Your spinach looks very healthy! Thanks for the instructions on how to blanch it. Maybe I will give it a go!

  2. I'll give it a go too! Except, I'm going to freeze kale :)

    Thanks for sharing :)

  3. The spinach does look amazing. And that's a great idea about freezing it in blocks and then popping them out & vacuum sealing. If I ever grow enough spinach to actually have extra, I'll definitely give this a try.