Have more greens than you can eat? Freezing spinach and hardy cooking greens is so easy—and you can enjoy them all year long in soups, quiches, smoothies, and more! Here’s how to freeze leafy greens—spinach, Swiss chard, and beet greens.
Freezing Spinach, Swiss Chard, and Beet Greens
It’s doesn’t matter where you get your leafy greens—the garden, farmers’ market, farm stand, CSA, grocery store). As long as they are fresh, tender, and not wilted, you can preserve them.
You can freeze any hardy cooking greens; note that lettuce and tender salad greens are to delicate to freezer properly and not recommended.
If you are harvesting your own spinach and greens, pick early in the morning before the heat of day.
1. Wash the Greens
Select the tender leaves. Wash carefully in cold water to remove any dirt or debris. Sometimes leaf greens can even have a bug hiding out in its leaves, so rinse more than once if you’re freaked out by insects.
For spinach: Tear larger leaves into small pieces, discarding the stems.
For Swiss chard: Put into the steamer whole or tear smaller pieces away from the stems, placing the ribs aside.
For beet greens: Treat like Swiss chard.
2. Blanch Greens
All leafy greens need be blanched before freezing. Blanching slows or stops the action of enzymes that would lead to spoilage. Blanching also helps vegetables keep their bright color, flavor, texture, and nutrition! Plus, blanching wilts the leafy greens making them easier to package into freezer safe containers.
You’ll need to bring a large pot of water that can hold a steamer basket or colander.
Get the water (1 to 2 inches of water) underneath the basket or colander boiling. Place the greens into the basket or colander and, using tongs, move them around until they are wilted—3 minutes for collard greens and 2 minutes for all other greens. Make sure the greens are immersed and lightly push the spinach down with a spoon so it is all down in the water.
3. Plunge into Ice Water
They now need to be cooled down quickly before being placed in freezer bags! Get a large bowl of ice water ready. We mean near-freezing! You need to stop the greens from overcooking or they will lose their vibrant green color.
In order not to lose their nutrients via leaching, the greens should be kept separated from the cooling water. It’s easiest to do this by placing the greens inside one bowl which is then inserted into a larger bowl of ice water. Using the tongs, move them around until cooled down (2 or 3 minutes). Add more ice cubes to keep the water ice cold.
The last step is to drain the spinach and dry. A salad spinner is very useful for this purpose; otherwise, drain in colander and pat dry on paper towels.
4. Pack Greens into Freezer Bags
The dried spinach and greens are ready to be placed in freezer bags. For greens, bags are best (versus containers) to remove air to avoid freezer burn. Make sure you get ALL the air out.
Label your bags so you know when you put them in the freezer. You can keep spinach and greens for 10 to 12 months. See how long you can freezer foods for.
How you pack your spinach depends on how you think you’ll use it. If you’re not sure, pack about one cup of spinach per bag. You could pack in smaller sandwhich baggies, but I would still put everything in a gallon freezer bag which has thicker plastic.
Into the freezer they go!
Your frozen spinach and greens can be nutritious additions to soup stock and labeled “soup.” In later months, these greens can be spread around at the bottom of a quiche, used in numerous recipes, or tossed with butter (and cheese) and made into a yummy side dish. Enjoy!
In later months, these greens can be spread around at the bottom of a quiche, used in numerous recipes, or tossed with butter (and cheese) and made into a yummy side dish. Enjoy!