You may be considering how to harvest spinach in your garden bed since you have taken good care of your spinach plants and allowed them to grow into beautiful rosettes. Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) is a cool weather vegetable related to Swiss beet, so you will not plant it in hot summer.
Spinach is a popular crop, which can be planted in early spring or late summer, because it is cold resistant and can endure full sunlight to partial shadow. The winter Brumsdale variety is an option if you want the overwintering spinach crop to grow in a greenhouse or cold frame. It can also resist downy mildew, which may be a problem in cold climates.
When you plant spinach, the advantage is that you can harvest it into light green, baby leaves or mature leaves, all of which are delicious when eaten raw. Each growth stage has its own advantages. You can easily plant spinach at intervals and enjoy different flavors and textures. The outer leaves are used to harvest small spinach or mature spinach, but we will cover this in more detail later in this article.
We have a detailed guide on growing spinach to help you get high yield healthy plants. But now, let's focus on how to harvest spinach plants, and discuss short-term and long-term storage methods so that you can enjoy this vegetable all year round.
When should I harvest spinach?
Spinach can be harvested in the whole growing season from early spring to autumn. It is a cool seasonal crop, so it is best to replant it in spring and early autumn when the soil temperature is between 45 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
You can harvest immature or mature spinach leaves. If you want a more tender texture and sweet taste, baby leaves from seedlings are very good, while mature leaves will be more chewy and have a neutral taste similar to Swiss beets. You need to cut spinach (also known as bolting) before planting it, otherwise, the leaves will have a bitter and tough texture.
The ideal size for harvesting small spinach is when the plant is at least 6 inches tall and the leaves are 2 to 3 inches long. When the spinach plant grows 3 to 6 inches, it begins to harvest mature outer leaves. A few leaves may be larger, but as long as the plant is not tethered (seed setting), they will be very delicious.
Once the outside temperature reaches 75 degrees Fahrenheit and/or you see a stem growing in the middle of a leaf, you can tell your spinach plant is tethered. Now is the time to harvest the whole plant, because the formation of spinach seeds takes away the energy required for healthy leaf production, and causes the old leaves to become bitter.
How to harvest spinach
Harvesting spinach is a simple process, but there are different harvesting methods according to the maturity of plants. The first method is to cut leaves from the spinach plant. In this way, you can only harvest what you need at that time and encourage the new growth of the whole plant. Spinach is widely used because it is a fast growing plant and can endure multiple harvests.
When harvesting leaves (baby or mature), only take the larger outer leaves, not more than 1/4 of the whole plant. Taking only a small amount will ensure that the growing spinach continues to survive and thrive. Using a sharp kitchen or utility scissors, leave about 1/2 inch of stem on the plant to keep the leaf nodes intact and promote thicker growth. If the stem is tender, you can simply pinch the leaves from the plant.
Another method for harvesting spinach is called spinach string removal. This is ideal when you want to freeze or dry a large number of leaves at a time for later use. Use a sharp serrated knife to gather all spinach leaves of a plant into a bunch, and cut the stem 1/2 inch above the crown. The crown is above the soil surface where all the stems meet. You can get a second harvest in about 10 to 14 days.
The last method is to harvest spinach plants by removing the entire root system. This is a great way to remove the entire crop at the end of the season and do not want any regrowth. Take a serrated knife and cut it under the crown to make the whole plant come out of the soil. The remaining roots break down and add nutrients to the soil.
How to store fresh spinach
After harvesting rich spinach plants, you now need to know the best way to store fresh spinach leaves. Let's look at two different methods: dry refrigeration and frozen storage. For both processes, you will need to remove any withered, sticky or discolored leaves from the batch, as these leaves may cause deterioration of the rest.
Rinse the spinach with cold water, then use the salad spinner to remove excess water. Put the leaves on the paper towel and pat them dry. You are now ready to proceed to the next step of both methods.
Dry refrigeration is by far the most popular because it is easy and it is always good to have fresh spinach on hand. You don't want your spinach to get wet when it is stored in the refrigerator, because it will cause the leaves to become sticky. Wrap the spinach in a dry paper towel and place it in a plastic bag. Please try to remove any excess air before putting it into the refrigerator. This should last up to 10 days.
You can also wait until you are ready to use spinach to reduce the possibility of moisture damage. Alternatively, you can put the packed leaves in a plastic container to extend the storage life to 12-14 days.
To store spinach in the refrigerator, you can quickly rinse it to remove dirt and insects, but you do not need to dry the spinach because it must be blanched or steamed in boiling water for two minutes. After the spinach is cooked, put it in ice water for another two minutes to stop the cooking process.
After cooling, use the salad spinner to remove excess water, and then pat dry with a towel. Put the required part into the freezer bag and remove the excess air. Frozen spinach will be kept in the refrigerator for up to a year.
How to dry spinach
The next option is to dehydrate spinach. For all three drying methods, place spinach leaves in a layer with space between them to allow sufficient airflow. Once it is clean and dry (follow the same steps discussed earlier), place spinach in the 125F Dehydrator for 4 to 8 hours, or until it becomes crisp and fragile.
The oven can also be used to dehydrate spinach. Heat the oven to 125 ℃, and then put the spinach on the baking tray; Then bake for 2 to 3 hours. If you have enough space and extra time, air drying is another drying option. Put the clean and dry spinach leaves on the drying rack in a warm place with good ventilation. Spinach takes as long as 2 to 3 weeks to fully dry.
Store dehydrated spinach in closed containers, such as glass Mason cans or plastic containers, in dark places for up to a year. If you really want to save space and reduce additional costs, consider freeze-drying your spinach. It will last for 25 years!
Q: Does spinach grow back after being cut?
Answer: Yes, as long as you don't cut the crown (growth point) too low or take it down. The crown is where the growing spinach grows. After harvesting a bunch of leaves, you need to keep at least 1/2 inch to 2 inch crown.
Q: How do you know spinach is ready to be picked?
A: When the spinach plant is shaped like a rose and has at least 6 leaves, you can start harvesting. However, it is better to wait until the plant has matured for a period of time, and let the leaves grow 3 to 6 inches.
Q: How many times can spinach be harvested?
A: Because it is a cool weather vegetable, you can only get 3 to 4 cuttings from spinach plants before the temperature reaches 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and then it enters the seeds. But don't be afraid to plant spinach again in early autumn, so you can continue to harvest until winter comes.