Considered a super food, spinach is one of Mother Nature’s blessing to humans and animals alike. As you are enjoying these dark leafy greens, ask yourself, “how long does spinach last?”
Packed with vitamins and minerals, this dark, leafy green vegetable can pass off as food for the gods.
Did you know that a small serving provides you with iron, vitamins C, K, A, B6, folic acid, manganese, potassium and is also low in calories?
All these vitamins and minerals nourish the body in numerous ways.
Like all vegetables, spinach has a fairly short shelf life. This is especially the case when it is raw and fresh. Its freshness can quickly deteriorate under poor storage conditions.
Here is how it lasts under different conditions.
How Long Does Spinach Last (In The Fridge)?
Spinach, in whatever state, can keep well in the refrigerator.
- Avoid washing fresh, raw spinach. Only wash prior to eating. You can wipe off mud or any visible dirt with a dry towel.
- Cut off any wilted leaves and stalk to prevent the entire bunch from rotting.
- Use plastic bags, seal-able plastic containers, paper towels or heavy duty cling film. Paper towels are great for absorbing any moisture, which can hasten spoilage.
- Lay the leaves on top of each other without cramming up the leaves. Wrap or seal them tightly to prevent dry air from penetrating through.
- A great trick to maintain freshness is to place slices of bread in between the layers of leaves. The bread absorbs any moisture thus prolonging the shelf life.
When stored this way, raw leaves will keep for 7 – 10 days while fresh.
How Long Does Cooked Spinach Last?
Cooked spinach leaves should not be mixed with other items. They easily pick up odor and can cause cross-contamination.
- Store cooked leaves in Ziploc bags or airtight containers to retain original state as much as possible.
- Store in the crisper drawer.
When well refrigerated, cooked spinach will last up to four days.
How Long Does Spinach Last Out Of The Fridge? (Raw and Cooked)
For both raw and cooked spinach, only remove them out of the fridge if you plan on using within a few hours.
On the other hand, freshly bought leaves can sit out at room temperature for 1 day.
How To Prolong The Shelf Life Of Spinach
An effective way of freezing spinach is by blanching them first.
You can freeze both whole leaves and spinach puree.
When blanching whole leaves, do the following:
- Clean and sort the leaves well.
- Dip the vegetables in boiling water for about 2 minutes.
- Immerse them in ice cold water to mitigate further cooking. This gives the spinach a crunchy, vibrant texture even after freezing.
- Pat the leaves dry after dipping in ice cold water.
- Portion the leaves in small batches that you can use once to prevent re-freezing.
- Store in heavy duty airtight bags. Squeeze out excess air before sealing to prevent freeze burns.
When well frozen, the leaves keep well for 8 – 10 months.
When freezing spinach puree, do the following:
- Wash the leaves well.
- Add a small amount of liquid such as water or stock to facilitate the pureeing process. You can use a blender or food processor.
- Blend into desired puree consistency.
- Portion the puree into individual bags. Alternatively, place on ice tray molds.
- Freeze until hardened.
- Transfer into airtight Ziploc bags.
- Label well.
Pureed spinach is wonderful in smoothies, used in baby foods or added to other meals altogether.
Well frozen spinach puree keeps well for 10 – 12 months.
Another great way of increasing the shelf life of spinach is to juice it. The juice can then be frozen for future use.
Spinach juice is best stored as ice cubes. This allows you to remove small portions at a time.
Freezing the juice at the right temperature also helps to retain nutrients.
Well frozen juice will still offer you similar nutritive content as fresh leaves.
How Best To Use And Handle Spinach For Optimal Nutritive Benefits
Poor handling of vegetables is a major cause of nutrient loss as well as spoilage.
Vegetables are highly sensitive food items and should be handled with care.
It is advisable to consume vegetables as soon as you have bought or harvested. The longer they stay, the more they lose nutrients.
Spinach is one such vegetable. In order to obtain all the vitamins and minerals from this dark, leafy vegetable, extra caution must be exercised during storage.
These straightforward steps come in handy:
- Minimal cooking. Prolonged cooking will strip the vegetable off its nutrients.
- When added to other ingredients during cooking, add it in the final step to preserve the green color and nutrients as well.
- Wash thoroughly before cooking or eating. Wash in running water to remove any clogged dirt or worms. Moisture will hasten spoilage as well as facilitate mold growth.
- Look out for stuck worms in the stalk or leaves. Such pests will cause rotting.
- When cooking, season it just before serving. Salt can strip nutrients and also dry it out.
- Avoid chopping the leaves finely. If you have to chop, ensure you roughly chop them to retain juices and nutrients.
- Avoid adding liquids such as water as this will dilute the flavor and absorb nutrients.
How Do You Know If Spinach Is Bad?
What does bad spinach look like? Here are easy ways to spot one:
- Change in color – Fresh leaves have deep green and vibrant color. When expiration sets in, the leaves can become yellow or brown with dark spots. This makes them unpalatable. Use such leaves as compost.
- Shriveled leaves – When picking, look for firm, compact leaves. Shriveled leaves with torn, cramped edges is an indication of expiration and such spinach will not last long.
- Slimy or sticky leaves – When using baby spinach, slimy leaves is a sign of spoilage and they should be discarded.
- Holes in leaves – Old, overstayed spinach will have holes in the leaves.
What happens if you eat old spinach? Can old spinach make you sick?
Consuming old, overstayed spinach or any other vegetable poses a health risk. This is because of bacteria growth prevalent in such items.
You risk food poisoning. Besides, such leaves are unappealing, not to mention unpalatable (yikes)!
In as much as it is not safe to consume old leafy greens, don’t dispose them just yet! Add them to your compost.
Leafy greens deteriorate quickly. Proper storage not only mitigates nutrient loss, it extends the shelf life immensely. Knowing how long spinach lasts under different conditions is essential: It allows you to plan and make the most out of it to reduce food wastage.