Cooking fresh spinach from the garden can be depressing. You go out and pick a huge bucket of crisp leaves, wash them, and stuff them in a pot. Three to ten minutes later there is a tablespoon of green mush at the bottom of the pan. Contrary to what your eyes tell you, though, it tastes pretty good. So much better than the frozen stuff from the grocery store. Very tender and mild.
To emotionally counteract the visual shock, I try to cook extra spinach when I cook it. If there are left-overs, it all seems more worthwhile, even if the pot contents has been hit by the shrinking machine. But, then, left-over spinach in the fridge is not all that appealing and tends to get neglected.
Last week, I had to pick a bunch of spinach to make room for planting my pumpkin seedlings. I had picked the stems off (its my spinach, I don’t have to eat the stems if I don’t want to), and washed it ahead of time, then fit it tightly into 3 one gallon ziplock bags in the fridge. At dinner time, I packed it into the 8.5 quart pot with just the water from washing. With this much spinach in there, I found that part way through the cooking time, I had to cut the leaves just a bit and stir to get them to cook evenly to the desired degree. It still didn’t take very long.
There were only 3 of us for dinner that night. The garden spinach was the perfect compliment to the honey curry chicken. There still was not a lot of left-over spinach, but enough that it might not get eaten in the next week. If I froze it all in one mass, it could be hard to heat up and serve later. I thought of ice cube trays.
I did some criss-cross cutting with a knife and fork. Then, I scooped out spinach with a spoon to fill each ice cube compartment to level with the top edge. I was thinking it wouldn’t expand as much as water. I covered the filled trays with plastic wrap that went all the way underneath and attached to itself under the tray. Into the freezer it went.
The next day, we did eat left-overs, so I just popped out 2 of the spinach cubes to heat with the refrigerated chicken and rice. The spinach just barely got to room temp with this method, so people who really like their food hot might want to slightly defrost the cubes first. My years of taking care of the kids during meal times has lead to an actual preference for tepidly heatedly food, so I was fine.
Later, I loosened the rest of the spinach cubes by running the back of the trays against cold water for a few seconds. I was able to pop the deep green cubes out without too much effort -and no broken ice cube trays. The spinach cubes are now in the freezer and should be enough for a few more meals. If I get around to preserving any more of my spinach crop, I will be seriously considering doing it in frozen cubes.