Here’s How to Stop Throwing Out Half-Eaten Bags of Slimy Spinach
Buying spinach often feels like a race against the clock.
You buy a bag, vowing this time will be different. You won’t be forced to throw a half-full bag of sad, wilted leaves away at the end of the week. But inevitably, it happens, again and again.
Fresh spinach has a shelf life of between five and seven days. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do once spinach goes bad. If you open the bag and the leafy veg has wilted and developed a slimy residue, don’t eat it.
Although some foods can be salvaged after they’ve started to go bad (like bananas, avocados and pears), spinach is not one of them. Because of its high moisture content, it can be the perfect home for foodborne illness.
Luckily, there are a few ways you can store it, preserve it and use heaping handfuls of it throughout your week.
How to Store Spinach So It Lasts Longer
Moisture is what makes spinach go bad so quickly, so the best way to keep it fresh is to immediately store it in an airtight container as soon as you get it home.
How to Freeze Your Spinach So You Don’t Ruin It
If you know you’ve bought more spinach than you could possibly eat in a week, you can also freeze it and use it for nine to 14 months.
You won’t be able to serve the thawed leaves in a salad, but it works perfectly for smoothies, pasta dishes or quiche recipes and tastes better than the store-bought frozen alternatives.
That said, if you want to freeze your spinach, do it fast. If the leaves start to wilt before you freeze them, they will taste very bitter.
To blanch them normally, bring a pot of water to boil and add the fresh spinach. Leave them in the water for about two minutes, and then put them in ice water for another two minutes.
To steam blanch, fill a pot with about two to three inches of water and bring it to boil. Put a mesh colander or steamer basket in the pot so it rests above the water, then add the spinach. Steam for two minutes, then place the spinach in ice water.
After you’ve removed the leaves from the ice water, dry them thoroughly with either a thick paper towel or a salad spinner.
Once the leaves are dry, put one to two cups in an airtight freezer bag.
Freezer burn will make your spinach taste rubbery and bitter. Extra water and air can cause freezer burn, so you want to make sure the spinach is dry and the freezer bag is tightly sealed. You can use a straw to suck out the excess air before sealing the bag if you don’t have a vacuum sealer.
Once you’ve stored your spinach in the freezer, keep an eye on it. If you see leaves that are starting to wilt, take them out. It’ll keep the rest of the spinach fresh for longer.
Recipes to Use Your Spinach Before It Wilts (or Just After)
Whether you’re prepping breakfast, lunch or dinner, you have tons of options for incorporating this vitamin-packed vegetable.
If you’re cooking breakfast for one, you can’t go wrong with a spinach omelet.
A breakfast smoothie is also a great opportunity to sneak some fresh or frozen spinach into your morning meal. This article includes a few of the ways you could add spinach to your morning blend.
My favorite is blending frozen blueberries, a handful of spinach and two spoonfuls of Greek yogurt with some cashew milk and coconut protein powder. The yogurt and cashew milk make for a perfectly creamy morning meal.
3. Breakfast Casserole
If you’re looking to impress, a breakfast casserole is the perfect opportunity to get rid of some veg. This recipe for green eggs and ham casserole from Bon Appetit calls for a heaping two pounds of fresh greens.
Another option is a standard quiche. Any quiche can be crustless; just make sure your pan is very well greased.
You can also line your pie or casserole dish with thinly sliced potatoes or sweet potatoes. I like to roast the potatoes first and then add the filling. It tends to keep the potatoes from absorbing the egg mixture and becoming mushy.
Otherwise you can go the easiest (and arguably most delicious) route of all, and simply line your dish with phyllo dough. After that, you can follow any quiche recipe and simply add in your desired amount of spinach.
A quiche is also a good way to get rid of spinach that might be too wilted to eat as a salad but still has a bit of life left. If the spinach has developed a residue, it’s definitely time to throw it away, but if it’s just starting to wilt, you can chop it into fine pieces and add it to your quiche that way.
Another great way to use some just-wilting spinach leaves is in a pesto. The best thing about pesto is it’s incredibly easy to make, which means you can even include the kids in the prep.
Although it can be tough getting kids to eat their leafy veggies, letting them blend two cups of spinach with some parmesan, olive oil and garlic might just do the trick. Plus pesto pairs well with a very kid-friendly dish — pasta.
Spinach is also the perfect add-in to almost any recipe. I cut it up in fine pieces and add it to my favorite Caribbean curry recipe just before serving. You’ve got pasta on the menu? Saute some spinach on the side and mix it in at the end. Tacos? Swap out the lettuce and cheddar for some spinach and feta for a healthier twist on a classic meal.
With some creativity and sensible storage, your spinach will be finding its way into delicious dishes instead of your trash can week after week.
Anna Brugmann is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.