Can you freeze fresh spinach and other leafy greens? Oh absolutely! Freezing spinach or any leafy greens is so very easy.
I may be one of the few people in the world who really LIKE green smoothies. A spinach smoothie with a big handful of spinach in the blender, top it off with some orange juice and sweeten just a bit. Frozen spinach available in the winter to make smoothies may just satisfy my longing for fresh foods when the snow is flying and I am longing for fresh garden foods.
First, harvest your spinach. The best time to do this is early in the morning when it is at its freshest. Spinach will be crispier and fresher before the heat of the day hits it.
You can harvest spinach by cutting or pinching off the larger leaves, or cutting the whole plant 2 inches or so above the ground. The plant will grow new leaves, and you can harvest it again in a few weeks.
Store purchased spinach works just find too.
Rinse the spinach well in cold water, sorting out any weeds, browned or damaged leaves, or other things (bugs) that might have gotten mixed in. Remove any large stems but you can leave the small stems on baby spinach leaves.
Spinach will often have dirt hiding in its leaves, so you need to rinse well. I’ll rinse and drain several times in a large bowl before I am content that all dirt, bugs, or dead leaves are taken care of.
Even if you have purchased your spinach from the store you should give it several rinses just in case.
How do You Blanch Spinach for Freezing?
Spinach and other greens can be blanched before freezing. This helps retain the color and nutrition. I always blanch my spinach first.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. You want enough water to generously cover your greens. I use my blancher, but a large pot will work as well. When the water is boiling, throw in the spinach and use a spoon to lightly push the spinach down so it is all down in the water. and gently stir.
Place the lid on to hold in any steam. Start timing right away for 2 minutes.
What happens if you freeze spinach without blanching?
Actually not a whole lot. Blanching definitely does help the spinach last longer in the freezer in my opinion. But many people swear by just freezing spinach raw and unblanched. If you freeze it without blanching the spinach may get freezer burn or turn brown in the freezer. But this spoilage will be noticeable when you take it out to thaw.
I recommend blanching, but it is not the end of the world if you don’t.
Cooling Blanched Spinach
As soon as the time is up, remove spinach leaves to a bowl of very cold or even ice water. This stops the cooking process. The spinach will have reduced in mass somewhat, but not as much as you might think.
Draining & Drying Spinach Before Freezing
The last step is to drain the spinach. I have a salad spinner that I use to spin the water off. If you don’t have one, you can simply drain it in a colander, then spread it out on paper towels and blot dry.
My good friend Cindy has a great method of spinning her salad that I think would work here too. Drain your spinach, and then place it in a tea towel. Bring up the corners of the towel, forming a sort of a sack of spinach. Give it a whirl. Go ahead and spin it around. The water will be spun out into the towel.
Packaging for the Freezer
What you choose to pack in is a personal choice. You can choose,
- Freezer Bags
- Freezer Containers (plastic container)
- Silicone Trays (especially good for small amounts)
Freezing in freezer bags
In my opinion using freezer bags is the best way to freeze spinach. It is easy to package your greens, squeeze out any excess air and store flat in the freezer.
Tip: Put pre-measured meal or recipe size portions in inexpensive sandwich bags. Then store several of these smaller portions in quart-size or even gallon-size freezer bags.
You’ll get the heavier plastic made for the freezer from the quart bags. But the smaller, less expensive bags hold the amount needed for each use.
I usually package about a cup of spinach per bag. You can choose more or less. Think about how you usually use spinach and how much you will use at a time. Then package accordingly.
Here is my labeled quart bag. It has 2 sandwich baggies inside with room for a couple more. I sometimes use a gallon freezer bag and can freeze several smaller packages together.
Remove as much air as possible. Label, seal, and freeze.
Freezing in Freezer Containers
I’m talking about plastic freezer containers. These would work fine, but are not really needed for spinach or greens. It would not be as easy to squeeze all the air out. Not my preference, but would work if that is what you have or prefer.
Freezing in Silicone Trays.
Another method to store frozen spinach if you need really small amounts would be to use silicone trays. They come in several sizes. Some as small as ice cubes, or use muffin cup sized trays. Just fill each little section with your blanched spinach. Put this in the freezer until frozen then pop out frozen cubes of spinach and store in a freezer bag.
I can see small spinach cubes working well for smoothies. Or if you just want to sneak some extra vegetables and good nutrients in a stew, soup or sauce of some sort.
Spinach can be canned as well but personally I like freezing better.
Frequently Asked Questions
Sure! If you know that you use spinach chopped up, just chop it as you like for your recipes and freeze just like whole leaves.
If you mean a bag of spinach from the grocery store. Yes, you can do it just the same as with fresh spinach. But, keep in mind this spinach is not nearly as fresh. So watch closely for any withered leaves or spoilage. Freezing is not going to make the spinach any better than it is when it goes in the freezer.
Freezing your spinach does not change the taste. You can use it just as you would any cooked spinach. Add it to a pan, saute with a little butter and salt and it is delicious.
The texture will be different than fresh. It might not be as appealing on a fresh salad for instance. Cooked is better suited for frozen spinach.
Yes, spinach and kale is frozen just like any other leafy green.
Yes, you’d use the same process for beet greens or any other greens that you love.
Canning greens like kale, spinach, Swiss chard, or beet greens is easy. Find full instructions for a variety of greens in a pressure canner.
Freezing herbs like basil, oregano, sage, and parsley are all covered in our free guide on preserving your spices fresh all winter long. Pick up some new skills at SimplyCanning.com.
Freezing peas fresh from the garden, while keeping nutrition and color intact, is a simple process anyone can master. Directions for shelled and unshelled are included at SimplyCanning.com.
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Page last updated: 3/13/2023