Spinach: picking, selecting, storing
20 Oct 2013 07.45 am by Renny Wijeyamohan
Spinach, with broccoli coming a close 2nd, probably tops the Most Hated Vegetables list. A somewhat unfair title, though maybe not from the perspective of spinach eaters under 12. Spinach is actually one of the most nutritious foods out there despite its bitter taste. High in Vitamins A, C, E, K and Thiamin, Riboflavin, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium and Potassium – amongst other things – spinach is packed with nutrients.
The precise time to pick spinach is just before the plant starts “bolting”. This is when a central stalk appears and the plant shoots up, growing tall and thin. Both day length and heat cause spinach plants to bolt and flower, so if you’re thinking about a spring or summer spinach crop consider planting in the shade. To pick the spinach it’s best not to uproot the entire plant if you’d like to have an ongoing source to harvest. Pick the outer leaves when they are at least 8 centimetres long (approx 3 inches) but leave the inner leaves to harvest later. Avoid picking spinach that has white spots that have appeared – these could be downy mildew or white rust – which can render the spinach unsafe to eat. Freshly picked spinach should be rinsed or soaked thoroughly to remove any soil or sand.
When selecting spinach keep an eye out for leaves that have a solid dark green complexion. Any white spots or hints of yellow can mean the spinach is diseased or overripe. The texture of the spinach should be fresh and crisp – leaves that are limp or soft are a sign that it’s past its prime.
Refrigerated spinach can last for up to 5 days. Place a bag of spinach in the fridge if you’re intending to use it in the next day or two. Use the refrigetator chiller if you’re planning on eating your fresh spinach any longer than that. Spinach tolerates cold weather extremely well, which means it can be frozen for a long time. This is why it’s so common to see frozen spinach on sale at your local grocery store or supermarket. Frozen spinach will be good to eat for up to 12 months.
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