Spinach is a wonderful leafy green, a real workhorse of an ingredient ready to whizz into soups, stews and smoothies, plus it cooks in no time. So when in season, turn your fresh spinach bounty into manageable portions, and store in the freezer ready for throwing into the pot all year round, as and when you like. There are 4 easy ways to freeze spinach:
Washing and freezing fresh spinach
Puree technique (with water)
Freezing fresh spinach without washing
Freezing spinach is super simple and there are a few methods to choose between. Fresh freezing is quick and easy while blanching and freezing takes more up front effort, but ensures your leaves will keep their colour and flavour better and for longer.
Take your pick of these four popular techniques for freezing fresh spinach ...
How to Freeze Spinach
1. Freezing fresh spinach
1. Wash your greens, pat or spin dry in a salad spinner.
2. Place the leaves in flat layers inside freezer bags and press down.
3. When the bags are full, squeeze out all the air, tie the bags up and place them in the freezer.
Thaw the spinach for a couple of hours before use and squeeze out any excess water before adding to dishes.
2. Puree Technique
This technique is ideal when you want spinach to add to more liquid dishes later on, like smoothies, soups, sauces and stews.
1. Place clean spinach leaves in a blender and add water until it reaches a desirable thickness.
2. Pour the puree into ice trays and freeze.
3. Once frozen, the solid cubes can be transferred to freezer bags and kept in the freezer in the bags.
3. Blanching Technique
Blanching spinach before freezing helps preserve the colour and taste for longer as it delays the enzymatic process that leads to decay, however, it's not so good at retaining the nutrients. Blanching spinach before freezing also means that it will last a lot longer in the freezer, for up to a year.
1. Bring a large pot of boiling water to the boil.
2. Add pre-washed leaves to the boiling water.
3. Stir and cook at a rolling boil for two minutes.
4. Transfer the leaves to a basin or large bowl of iced water. Keep the spinach submerged for another two minutes in this cold water to halt the spinach cooking more.
5. Dry the spinach and place the in a salad spinner until the leaves seem dry,
6. Pack the spinach into freezer bags. Squeeze as much air from the bags as you can and seal and freeze.
4. Freezing fresh spinach
Using this technique the leaves will keep fresh for about 3 to 4 days.
1.Without washing or blanching, simply put the leaves in freezer bags, and freeze.
How to use frozen spinach
Cooking with frozen spinach is easy as the preparation work is already done. While thawed spinach will always be mushier than fresh spinach, meaning it can't easily be used in salads, it's ideal for use in hot dishes like stews and soups and baked into pies. Just make sure you have drained as much water out as possible.
Here below we've picked a selection of our favourite recipes that lend themselves perfectly to spinach you've taken from your freezer.
Use the puree spinach technique to add some pre-frozen cubes of spinach to this healthy spinach smoothie recipe.
Dips are very forgiving, as they're all about the flavour. Try whizzing your de-frosted spinach into a simple tasty dip. Here's how to make a spinach dip.
Spinach and Ricotta Balls
Spinach, ricotta, flour and eggs seasoned with salt, pepper and nutmeg are all the ingredients you need for these easy vegetarian ricotta and spinach balls.
Freezing other leafy vegetables
Spinach isn’t the only vegetable you can stock up on by storing it in the freezer. Other leafy vegetables - like kale or Swiss chard - or root vegetable greens like mustard greens, turnip greens or beet greens can also be stored in much the same way as spinach. Be sure to pick the youngest, greenest leaves without flaws and clean them well. If you choose to blanch them, the boiling time should be two minutes for most greens, with the exception of collard greens, which will need three minutes.
Beyond greens, almost any vegetable can be frozen, although the best options are more substantial or fibrous vegetables with lower water content that won’t get so mushy when they thaw out. These include peas, broccoli, green beans and carrots. Vegetables that won’t fare well in the freezer include cucumbers, cabbage and lettuce. Fresh tomatoes and many herbs, like parsley or cilantro, will also turn into a slimy mess once they have been frozen and thawed.
Francesco Martucci from I Masanielli in the Campania region of Italy has been named the best pizzaiolo in the world for a third year running. See the full list as well as all the international winners.