You wanted to stock up on frozen spinach, but the store only had fresh. No worries, friend. You can turn that fresh spinach into frozen with a simple process called blanching. Here’s how to freeze spinach so it’ll last you months.
What is blanching, anyway?
Blanching is the process of very quickly scalding a food in boiling water, then rapidly cooling it down to halt the cooking process. In the long run, it will help your spinach retain a bright color and better texture than if you froze it raw, because it stops the enzymes that would normally cause a loss of flavor, color and texture. (It also slows down the loss of nutrients, if you were wondering.) And thankfully, it’s a breeze to do.
How to freeze spinach in 4 easy steps:
1. Set up a blanching station and an ice bath.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Not sure how much salt? Treat it like pasta water, adding a few tablespoons of kosher salt per quart of water. Set up a large bowl of ice water nearby, and have a wire strainer or colander ready.
2. Prepare the fresh spinach.
While the water comes to a boil, trim any tough stems and give the spinach a thorough wash in cool water to get rid of any dirt or bugs. (We like a salad spinner for this job.)
3. Blanch the spinach.
Immerse the spinach in the boiling water. (Depending on how much you’re freezing, you may need to work in batches.) Start timing immediately for two minutes. (If you’re blanching baby spinach, go for less time.) Immediately drain the spinach using the wire strainer or colander.
4. Chill and freeze the spinach.
Immediately transfer the spinach to the ice bath and swish it around to cool, then drain and dry it thoroughly. To freeze the spinach, you can either pack it in a container or zip-top bag right away and transfer to the freezer, or portion it into small mounds on a baking sheet, freeze it for an hour and then pack it into a container or bag. Just like that, you have frozen spinach.
How long can you keep spinach in the freezer?
When properly prepared and stored, spinach can keep in the freezer for a cool (heh) 12 months. When you’re ready to cook with it, just add it to your recipe (no thawing required). Pasta Florentine, anyone?