Canning greens like spinach, kale, swiss chard, or beet tops is super easy. The hardest part is probably the washing step. Greens can be crinkly and you’ll need several rinses with fresh water to get all the dirt out.
Remember to only can the best of your greens. Pick out any wilted, dried, or insect damaged leaves as best you can.
Greens are light and bulky when fresh. When you blanch them to pack your jars….. they shrink.
They shrink – a lot!
According to the NCHFP “An average of 28 pounds is needed per canner load of 7 quarts; an average of 18 pounds is needed per canner load of 9 pints. A bushel weighs 18 pounds and yields 3 to 9 quarts – an average of 4 pounds per quart.” I just picked a bunch and kept filling jars until I had 7-pint jars worth.
How to Can Spinach and other Greens
Wash greens well. Dirt has a tendency to get in the crinkly leaves so you will need to use several rinses of water. Rinse in small amounts and keep rinsing until you are sure it is all clean. This will depend on your situation. Right after heavy rainfall, your greens may have more dirt splashed up onto the leaves. If your greens are mulched well, you may not have much dirt at all! Love that mulch.
After cleaning your greens you will want to blanch them. Heat your greens in a few inches or so of water until just starting to wilt. Stir while you are heating them to get them evenly heated.
Using a blanching basket makes this easy, but you can also just use a tongs to handle the greens. When the greens are blanched dip into cold water to stop cooking and then drain well.
Next, you want to pack your blanched greens into jars. You can do quarts if you want… I recommend pints. Pack into hot jars leaving 1-inch headspace. Add 1/2 tsp salt to pints and 1 tsp to quarts. (salt is optional)
Fill jars with boiling water, again leaving 1 inch head space.
Next be sure and wipe off the rims of your jars. If there is salt or greens sticking to the jar it will interfere with the seal to the canning lid. A quick swipe with a damp paper towel is usually enough for this type of food. It is not greasy or sticky like meat or jam would be.
Place your canning lids and rings on the jar. Tighten down finger tight. Not too tight but snug is fine. Process in a pressure canner according to pressure canning instruction. If you are not familiar with how to use a pressure canner check this link. s on how to use a pressure canner.
Be sure and use the correct pressure according to your altitude as shown in the chart below. I am high altitude so I use 15 pounds. Yours may be different.
Pints need 1 hour 10 minutes
Quarts 1 hour 30 minutes
Always follow tested methods for canning. Canning processing source NCHFP canning greens
Tips and Frequently Asked Questions:
How many pounds of spinach??
Greens are light and bulky when fresh. When you blanch them to pack your jars…they shrink. A lot. You’ll need a lot of greens to make this worthwhile. And I recommend pints. A quart is a lot of greens.
I have to admit…. I didn’t really like home canned greens.
But then again I don’t think I’d like commercially canned greens either. I love fresh greens but cooked greens are not my favorite. I can manage cooked spinach but not other types of greens. So that probably affected my use.
I did this project mostly because several folks asked about canning kale and canning spinach. All greens are canned the same. I thought it would be great to have on hand in jars. So did a batch of swiss chard. Swiss chard grows well here and I always have plenty.
It is now the next spring, and I have used a grand total of……. one pint jar. All 6 other jars are still on my shelf. I just didn’t care for it. BUT, that is not to say that you wouldn’t love it! So here you go.
A few things I noticed with this project. I had a lot of liquid loss. This is something I’ve seen repeatedly with canning greens.
To lessen liquid loss be sure you have properly vented your canner at the beginning of your processing time. This means allow steam to escape for a full 10 minutes before placing the weights on and building pressure.
Also important is to allow your jars to slowly cool down. After the canner reaches zero pressure let it rest 10 more minutes. Then open your lid and let some steam out. Set the lid back on your canner and let it rest another 5 minutes unclamped down but covered. Then take the lid off, let it rest yet another 5 minutes. THEN take your jars out, allow to cool to room temperature and check your seals.
This allows those jars to depressurize slower and resists the problem of liquid being siphoned out of your jars.
In the image above the jar on the far left is borderline ok. I placed it in the fridge and used it within a few days. Some of the other jars have some liquid loss. Not much, so they are fine. A bit unappealing but fine.
Is canning or freezing greens better?
Question from my inbox: When canning greens, do you ever cut the leaves down into smaller pieces? I grow Swiss Chard and my family loves it. I am growing more this year and am looking for ways to process it, either canning or freezing. Have you ever tried freezing greens. If so, which do you like better?
Answer: I have only canned them once just to try it and because I kept getting asked about it. It was super easy. Directions are above. When I canned these I left the pieces in fairly large sections. I did chop it but not very much, And actually, I think I would have liked it better chopped more. So my suggestion is to chop it up. In my article above I mention that I really didn’t care for greens canned very much. So I haven’t done it again. My preference is definitely freezing greens over canning.
Recipe Card Canning Greens
- Canning salt optional
- Start by preparing your jars and getting water in the canner heating. You want the canner hot, but not boiling, when the jars are ready to be processed. If you are new to using a pressure canner, see this article for full pressure canning instructions. This includes more detailed information and step-by-step instructions on how a pressure canner works.
Hot pack only
- Wash greens well with several rinses.
- Blanch until just wilted. See below for more on blanching.
- Dip into cold water to stop cooking. Drain
- Pack greens into jar. Don’t pack tight.
- Add salt (1/2 tsp. per pint or 1 tsp. per quart) to jar.
- Cover with fresh boiling water, leaving 1”headspace.
- Remove bubbles, wipe the rim clean, and place on seal and ring. Place the jar in the warm canner. Proceed to fill all jars.
- Process in a pressure canner according to the directions below.