SpinachSee more Fruits, Vegetables, Herbs
June 15 - October 31
June 15 - October 31
In the 16th century, Catherine de Medici left her home of Florence, Italy to marry the king of France. She brought her own cooks, who prepared spinach the way she liked it. Since then, dishes prepared on a bed of spinach are referred to as “a la Florentine”.
What to Look For
When examining loose spinach leaves, pick the ones that are smaller and have a good green color to them. Leaves that are crisp and spongy are of good quality. Do not pick leaves that are wilting, brown or yellow. Fresh spinach should smell sweet, never sour or musty. Look for stems that are fairly thin and coarse. Thick stems indicate overgrown spinach, which may be leathery and bitter. If only bagged spinach is available where you shop, check whether the contents seem resilient when you squeeze the bag.
Cleaning and Preparation
Other than pre-packaged baby spinach, fresh spinach should be cleaned thoroughly and then stored loosely in an unsealed bag in the crisper tray of the refrigerator for a few days.
If stored for more than a few days, spinach loses much of its nutritional value. While refrigeration slows this effect, spinach will lose most of its folate and carotenoid content after a week. This is worth considering when purchasing spinach out of season.
To freeze, cut off tough stems, wash, and blanch for 1-2 minutes. Plunge into cold water, drain, and pack into freezer bags or containers.
This multipurpose vegetable originating in southwest Asia has extraordinary nutritional value, especially when fresh, steamed, or quickly boiled. It is a good source of vitamins A, C, E and folic acid. The vitamin K provided by spinach – almost 200% of the daily recommended value in one cup of fresh spinach - is important for maintaining bone health. While spinach contains a relatively high level of iron, it exists in a form that is not easily absorbed. To maximize iron absorption, a good source of vitamin C (oranges, peppers, or lemon juice dressing) should always be served with spinach.
1 cup of raw spinach has 7 calories, 0.1g fat, 1.1g carbohydrates, 0.7g fibre, and 0.9g protein.
1 cup of lightly cooked spinach equals the nutrient content of 5 cups of raw spinach.
How to Use
As many of us know, long cooking times do not enhance the taste of spinach. It is best heated quickly and gently so that the leaves are just wilting. Spinach can be chopped and added to almost any savoury dish for a burst of green colour and nutrition. Spinach pairs well with any strong cheese, meat, or vegetable since its own flavour is quite mild.
Raw spinach can be the base of a healthy salad, especially if vitamin C is present in the dressing or in the other salad ingredients.
Varieties that grow well in sandy soil include Long Standing Bloomsdale, Tyee, Cold Resistant Savoy, Olympia and Melody. Clay soils are good for growing Wobli, Tarantella, Mazurka, Norveto, Estivato, Symphony and Melody.