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Meal Planning

Tales from a Not-So-Green-Thumb: Blanching Spinach 101

I suppose that my green thumb has taken a long time to make an appearance. Perhaps I am just fooling myself and it has not appeared yet at all, but I am hoping that it has. “Green Thumb-ness” does run in my blood… My mom has grown gardens for 30 + years. My grandma has been growing gardens for 80 + years, and has had the three of most gigantic gardens I have ever seen… Simultaneously producing vegetables. I mean, I did grow up running through the rows of potatoes and help plant, hoe, and harvest over the years… But did it interest me? Not a bit… Now I am in my early 30’s and all of the sudden, I am craving to have a sun room and a yard to grow everything possible. New territory. But, I am also learning the skills don’t appear overnight. :/

Today, I had the lovely opportunity to pick lettuce and spinach out of Grandma’s garden. She is not able to get out into her garden like she used to. This afternoon, she watched/coached my sister and me from a chair on the edge of the garden as we snipped at the spinach and lettuce leaves. It was such a struggle to know that she longed to be squatting with us, squishing in the mud, and harvesting her precious plants. However, I think it still meant a great deal to Grandma by just “being” there with us. I know it meant a great deal to me!

Once we returned to Grandma’s house she told me to take all the spinach and lettuce. My intention was to pick the leaves and share with others who were coming through for visits, but Grandma insisted, and what could I say? She is a beautiful, and stubborn, force to be reckoned with.

I did drop off half of the pickings at my mom’s house so she could freeze the spinach as well, since we are all doing our best to eat healthy. I took the rest of the spinach home, sat it on my counter, and looked at it for a bit. Then, I looked at it some more… Next, I Googled, “how to blanch and freeze spinach.”

I read the instructions and got to work… First, I soaked all the spinach in my kitchen sink in cold water. I thought this was a stroke of genius because it would save a ton of water money getting all the mud off the leaves by continuing to run water over it. And let me add, that soaking spinach in the sink was not found on Google. It was all my own idea (haha!). Next, I put a pot of water on to boil… I quickly realized my sister’s popcorn making had left grease on the burner. More smoke was coming from the burner than steam from the pot of water. My solution? Turn on the vent above the stove.

(Above photo: All the dirt sank to the bottom of the sink.)

Next, I put all the spinach in strainers to give the leaves a final rinse (I have multiple strainers now because I am usually prepping multiple veggies at the same time).

At last, I placed batches of spinach in the boiling water, counted to “30,” then began fishing the spinach out of the pot with a ladle.

Tip #1: Have a ladle available that has holes in it to allow the water to drain.

After 30 seconds, I threw the spinach in a bowl of ice water.

Tip #2: Make sure you have enough ice… By the third batch of blanching, all the loose ice had been used. I had a mini igloo in my ice tray of ice that was stuck together and thawing in my sink.

After cooling the spinach, I squeezed it into four little bags. One bag is going to be for quiche, or egg cups. The other three bags are going to be blended into my Shakeology shakes when I am trying to squeeze in all my veggies for the day!

Aside from the smoky burner, the ladle that didn’t really work, and my big lump of ice, I would say this endeavor was exceptionally successful.

This success is a tribute to my grandma, who has been super patient with me for many years!

Signing off until I can share more Fit, Well, and Whole adventures, along with green thumb attempts!

Please feel free to comment if you have excellent tips for blanching spinach, or any veggies for that matter!