harvest spinach

Harvesting spinach: timing, procedure & storage

Those who have successfully grown spinach can look forward to a rich harvest. Here you can find out everything about the right time and procedure for harvesting.

If you grow spinach in your own garden, you don’t have to wait long for your vegetables. After only six to eight weeks, the spinach is ready for harvest. We show how the harvest works and give tips on how to store the spinach afterward.

Harvest spinach

The great thing about spinach ( Spinacia oleracea ) is that it is quickly ready for harvest and can be harvested several times. Once the leaves are about four inches long, they can be cut off. The small, delicate leaves taste particularly mild and are perfect for raw enjoyment, for example in salads. If you want to process your spinach, it is better to let it sit for the full six to eight weeks to get the largest possible leaves.

When is spinach harvested?

Spinach can be grown almost all year round, so the harvest takes place at different times of the year. Spinach takes around two to three months to mature. For example, if you sown between February and April, the harvest takes place between May and June. When sown in April to June, harvest can be carried out from June to August. Sowing from July to September is ripe in September to December and if sown in September to October, the spinach will be ready next spring.

Harvesting spinach: timing, procedure & storage

When harvesting spinach, it’s important to stick to the right time frame. In general, only spinach that has not yet blossomed is harvested, as flowering spinach tastes bitter. In addition, the last fertilization should be at least two to three weeks before the harvest, as spinach stores plenty of nitrate in its leaves. How high the nitrate content is in the plant also has to do with the time of day. Spinach harvested at the beginning of the day has significantly more nitrate than a harvest in the late afternoon. This has to do with the exposure, as active photosynthesis has been shown to reduce the nitrate content in the leaf.

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How is spinach harvested?

There are two possible ways of harvesting spinach: Either the individual leaves around the heart are cut off with a sharp knife or the entire spinach plant including the roots is pulled out. The first variant is what is known as leaf spinach. Here the heart stops during the harvest and sprouts again, which means that the plant can be harvested up to four times a year. If you have enough spinach plants in the garden, the entire plant can of course also be cut off. If the spinach plant is harvested with roots, it is called root spinach. Another option is harvesting in stages. Only individual leaves are harvested from each plant.

Store and preserve spinach

Freshly harvested, the spinach is best eaten immediately, but it can also be kept in the refrigerator for two days. The best way to do this is to wrap it in a wet cloth so that the leaves do not begin to wither so quickly. If you plan to store spinach for an extended period of time, you should resort to other methods.

The easiest method for longer storage is to freeze the spinach. To do this, it is either frozen raw or blanched first. Blanching lowers the nitrate content and ensures that the taste and color are largely preserved. If you want to freeze the spinach fresh, it is advisable to wash the spinach thoroughly beforehand to remove the soil. For blanching, the spinach is also sorted and washed first. After that, it is placed in a colander and held over boiling water for a few minutes. Meanwhile, have a bowl of ice water ready.

After blanching, the spinach is kept in the ice water for about 10 seconds to interrupt the cooking process. Before the spinach is packed in freezer bags, it is a good idea to carefully squeeze out any excess water. This means that it is less mushy when it is thawed later. Before it ends up in the freezer, it is best to let the spinach cool down a bit in the refrigerator. The same applies to spinach that has already been cooked: You can freeze this too, but it should also be left to cool in the refrigerator beforehand.

Harvesting spinach: timing, procedure & storage

How is spinach preserved?

  • Freezing is the easiest method
  • Wash the spinach first and blanch it if necessary
  • After blanching, hold in ice water for 10 seconds
  • Squeeze out the spinach, leave to cool, and pack in freezer bags
  • Spinach that has already been cooked can also be frozen after cooling

Ingredients and uses of spinach

Spinach is rich in vitamins B and C as well as provitamin A. It also contains many minerals such as calcium, potassium, and iron. The fact that spinach contains an extremely high amount of iron is an old wives’ tale. Nuts and legumes, for example, beat the iron content of spinach by far. People with kidney problems, in particular, should consume spinach mainly in autumn and winter, when the oxalic acid content is lower than in the summer months. In general, affected people should avoid excessive consumption of spinach, as this hurts kidney stone formation.

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Spinach should always be cleaned thoroughly during preparation to remove the sand on the stems. In the kitchen, spinach is usually steamed with a little water and then refined. Here the options range from fried garlic and onions to parmesan, butter, or olive oil to pepper and nutmeg. You can also puree leaf spinach with a little cream to make creamed spinach.

Can you reheat spinach?

While spinach’s fabled iron content is a fairy tale, the old rule of not reheating spinach a second time doesn’t prove completely wrong. However, it comes from a time when cooling options were only available to a limited extent. If you leave the cooked spinach in the warm kitchen for a day, bacteria convert the nitrate into unhealthy nitrite. To prevent this, cooked spinach should only be kept in the refrigerator, as the low temperatures delay the conversion. This means that the spinach can still be warmed up two days later without hesitation.

If you would like to try a different type of spinach next season, you can get an overview here in our article on types of spinach.

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