Dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach provide a variety of nutrients and fiber. Here are tips for purchasing, storing and preparing these nutrient-packed vegetables:
Greens are highly perishable and should be used within one week after purchase. If you have more than you can use, consider freezing, dehydrating or pressure canning.
Select young, tender green leaves. Wash thoroughly and cut off woody stems. Water blanch most greens including spinach for 2 minutes in boiling water and collard greens for 3 minutes. Plunge into ice water for the same amount of time. Cool, drain and package, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Label containers with the name and date. Seal and freeze. Use within one year.
Spinach and greens like kale, chard, and mustard dry well. Remove the stem to facilitate better drying. Stems and leaves can be dried separately if desired. Trim and wash very thoroughly if not already pre-washed. Shake or pat dry to remove excess moisture. Lay out in a single layer on dehydrator trays. Dehydrate in a dehydrator or oven for 4-10 hours at 125 ⁰F until crisp. Package dried foods in tightly sealed containers and store in a cool, dry place.
Successful drying depends on heat, air dryness and air circulation. Dehydrated vegetables are best used as ingredients for soups, casseroles, sauces, and stews. However, they may be served with the addition of cheese or herbs to enhance flavor. They are also a nutritious addition to smoothies.
Please read about using a Pressure Canner before beginning. If this is your first time canning, it is recommended that you read Principles of Home Canning.
Quantity: An average of 28 pounds of greens is needed per canner load of 7 quarts; an average of 18 pounds is needed per canner load of 9 pints. A bushel weighs 18 pounds and yields 3 to 9 quarts – an average of 4 pounds per quart.
Quality: Can only freshly harvested greens. Discard any wilted, discolored, diseased, or insect- damaged leaves. Leaves should be tender and attractive in color.
Procedure: Wash only small amounts of greens at one time. Continue rinsing until water is clear and free of grit. Cut out tough stems and midribs. Place 1 pound of greens at a time in cheesecloth bag or blancher basket and steam 3 to 5 minutes or until well wilted. Add ½ teaspoon of salt to each quart jar, if desired. Fill jars loosely with greens and add fresh boiling water, leaving 1-inch headspace. Adjust lids and process following the recommendations:
|Dial Gauge Canner||Weighted Gauge Canner|
|Canner Gauge Pressure (PSI) at Altitudes of:|
|Jar Size||Process Time (Min)||Style of Pack||0-2000 ft
||Above 1000 ft
|Pints||70||Hot||11 lb||12 lb||13 lb||14 lb||10 lb||15 lb|
|Quarts||90||Hot||11 lb||12 lb||13 lb||14 lb||10 lb||15 lb|
This article has been peer-reviewed (2022).
Freezing Greens, National Center for Home Food Preservation
Lettuce, Other Leafy Greens, and Food Safety, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Selecting, Preparing and Canning Vegetables: Spinach and Other Vegetables, National Center for Home Food Preservation
USDA's Complete Guide to Home Canning, 2015 revision