Spinach Facts


The weekly spotlight is shared with permission from Bounty from the Box: The CSA Farm Cookbook, by

Mi Ae Lipe

Succulent spinach is one of the best-known vegetables in America, loved for its versatility in the kitchen but sometimes not so enjoyed by juveniles. Belonging to the same family as beets, Swiss chard, and amaranth, spinach comes in several different forms: savoy, which has very crinkly leaves and is often the one available fresh in bunches; flat or smooth leaf, which has broader, smoother leaves; and semi-savoy, a hybrid type that combines the texture of savoy but is not nearly as difficult to clean.

Do not confuse spinach with New Zealand spinach or water spinach, which are entirely different plants.

A strong, muscular Popeye made the nutritional qualities of spinach famous, and indeed a 1-cup serving of spinach does contain almost 40 percent of your daily adult requirement for iron (at only 7 calories). Unfortunately, its naturally occurring oxalic acid binds with the iron, rendering much of this nutrient unusable. But spinach has plenty of other nutritional redemption, with enormous amounts of vitamins K, A, and C; the B vitamins (especially folate); calcium; potassium; and manganese. Spinach is also one of the richest natural sources of lutein, a carototenoid, that protects against degenerative diseases of the eye. It is also rather high in sodium for a vegetable, accounting for its slightly salty taste

Commercially, spinach is widely grown and available year-round. But spinach is a cool-season plant that dislikes heat, and you’ll find the tenderest, most succulent specimens at farmers markets and CSAs in the spring (mid-May to June) and again in the fall (mid-September until frost.)

Spinach should be stored unwashed and wrapped in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator vegetable crisper until ready to use; depending on its condition, it will keep for 3 to 5 days. Before storing, inspect the bunch to make sure no slimy leaves are present, as rot will spread to other leaves quite quickly. Excess moisture tends to promote sliminess; slipping a dry paper towel among the leaves can help keep things drier.

Spinach and other salad greens should not be stored next to apples or other fruits that emit ethylene gas, which hastens spoilage and causes brown spots.
Equivalents, Measures, and Servings

• 1 pound raw spinach = 1 cup cooked
• ½ cup cooked = 1 serving

Blanching and Freezing
To blanch, bring salted water to a boil. Drop the spinach into the boiling water for 15 to 30 seconds until it turns bright green. Remove the spinach and immediately plunge it into ice water to stop the cooking process. Squeeze the excess water from the spinach, then place the spinach in zipper-lock freezer or vacuum food sealer-type bags, or freezer containers. Squeeze out any excess air and leave ½ inch of headspace (unless you are using the vacuum sealing method). Frozen spinach will keep for up to 6 months at 0°F.