SPINACH # 9 OF 14 SUPERFOODS
Spinach growing in the garden is a welcome sign of spring. It is a source of Vitamin A. It is rich in iron, calcium and protein. Spinach can be grown as a spring and a fall crop. Crinkled leaved varieties tend to catch soil during rainfalls. Plant a plain leaved variety to avoid a "gritty" spinach when chewed.
When to Plant
The first planting can be made as soon as the soil is prepared in the spring. If the soil was prepared in the fall, seeds can be broadcast over frozen ground or snow cover in late winter and they will germinate as the soil thaws. Plant successive crops for several weeks after the initial sowing to keep the harvest going until hot weather. Seed spinach again in late summer for fall and early winter harvest. Chill seeds for summer or fall plantings in the refrigerator for 1 or 2 weeks before planting. In southern locations, immature spinach seedlings survive over winter on well-drained soils and resume growth in spring for early harvest. With mulch, borderline gardeners should be able to coax seedlings through the winter for an early spring harvest. Spinach can be grown in hotbeds, sunrooms or protected cold frames for winter salads..
spinach is a rich source of iron. In reality, a 60 gram serving of boiled spinach contains around 1.9 mg of iron (slightly more when eaten raw). Many green vegetables contain less than 1 mg of iron for an equivalent serving. Hence spinach does contain a relatively high level of iron for a vegetable, but its consumption does not have special health connotations.
Spinach still has a large nutritional value, especially when fresh, steamed, or quickly boiled. It is a rich source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, magnesium, and several vital antioxidants. Recently, opioid peptides called rubiscolins have also been found in spinach. It is a source of folic acid (Vitamin B9), and this vitamin was first purified from spinach. To benefit from the folate in spinach, it is better to steam it than to boil it. Boiling spinach for four minutes can halve the level of folate.
When cooked, the volume of spinach is decreased by three quarters.
Spinach is an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, manganese, folate, magnesium, iron, vitamin C, vitamin B2, calcium, potassium, and vitamin B6. It is a very good source of dietary fiber, copper, protein, phosphorous, zinc and vitamin E. In addition, it is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, niacin and selenium.
Spinach is sold loose, bunched, in prepackaged bags, canned, or frozen. Fresh spinach loses much of its nutritional value with storage of more than a few days. While refrigeration slows this effect to about eight days, spinach will lose most of its folate and carotenoid content, so for longer storage it is frozen, cooked and frozen, or canned. Storage in the freezer can be for up to eight months. Choose spinach that has vibrant deep green leaves and stems with no signs of yellowing. The leaves should look fresh and tender, and not be wilted or bruised. Avoid those that have a slimy coating as this is an indication of decay.
Store fresh spinach loosely packed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper where it will keep fresh for about five days. Do not wash it before storing as the moisture will cause it to spoil. Avoid storing cooked spinach as it will not keep very well.
We all know that Popeye made himself super strong by eating spinach, but you may be surprised to learn that he may also have been protecting himself against osteoporosis, heart disease, colon cancer, arthritis, and other diseases at the same time.
A Few Quick Serving Ideas:
Add layers of steamed spinach to your next lasagna recipe.
Toss steamed spinach with pressed garlic, fresh lemon juice and olive oil. Sprinkle with a little Parmesan cheese...
Pine nuts are a great addition to cooked spinach.
Spinach salads are a classic easy and delicious meal or side dish.
Bloomsdale Long Standing (48 days to harvest; thick, very crinkly, glossy dark green leaves)
Winter Bloomsdale (45 days, tolerant to cucumber mosaic virus, slow to bolt, cold tolerant, good for over-wintering)
Indian Summer (39 days; semi-savoy; resistant to downy mildew races 1 and 2, tolerant to spinach blight)
Melody (42 days; lightly crinkled; resistant to downy mildew, mosaic; good spring or fall)
Tyee (39 days; dark green; heavily savoyed; tolerant to downy mildew; spring, fall or winter)
Vienna (40 days; very savoyed; medium to long-standing; tolerant to downy mildew races 1 and 2 as well as spinach blight)
Giant Nobel (43 days; large, smooth leaves; long-standing).
Olympia (46 days; slow to bolt; spring, summer harvest).
Check your library or bookstores for “I Love Spinach” cookbook by Burgundy L. Oliver
Her book listing of recipes is at:
Free spinach recipes at:
Are you eating your "spinach"?
Barbara in NC
Edited by: BBTHOM1 at: 5/12/2008 (22:48)
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