Saturday, October 4, 2014

Spinach 101

Spinach is a member of the Amaranthaceae family and native to Asia. This flowering and edible plant is considered an annual but it can survive the winter months in warmer climates. The word Spinach dates back to the 14th century and may have originated from the Catalan word espinac. The long history of Spinach is linked to ancient Persia where it was then likely introduced to India and then China. The earliest record of Spinach is in Chinese and dates back to around 647 AD. The top two producing countries of Spinach are China followed by the United States. Spinach season is May, June, July, August, September and October. There are three basic types of Spinach; Savoy, with dark and crinkly curly leaves, Flat or Smooth-Leafed Spinach with broad and smooth leaves and Semi-Savoy a hybrid variety with slightly crinkly leaves. To learn more about Spinach varieties click here. Spinach was Catherine de Medici’s favorite food and she insisted that it be served at every meal. Often dishes with Spinach are known as “Florentine” to honor her place of birth, Florence. Most kids know that Spinach is Popeye’s Favorite food as it enhances his strength immediately after consumption. Click here more interesting facts about Spinach and click here for some fun projects and recipes for kids. To learn more about Spinach click here

To Store

Store unwashed Spinach in the refrigerator; it can last up to four days or longer. Cooked Spinach does not store well and it is suggested that it be consumed within one day. Spinach can be blanched and frozen. To learn more about freezing Spinach click here

To Nourish

Spinach contains exceptionally high amounts of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Folate, Calcium, and Manganese. It is also considered to be a rich source of Iron. It is important to note that the Iron found in Spinach is not easily absorbed by the body, partly because absorption is inhibited by Calcium and Fiber. To increase the bioavailability of Iron from Spinach and other leafy greens, be sure to include a good amount of Vitamin C in your meal (tomatoes, peppers, apples, and other fruits). Click here to learn more about the health benefits of Spinach. 

To Prepare

Spinach can be eaten raw in salads, steamed, sauteed, braised as a few examples. For more information on how to stem and wash spinach go to this article from Fine Cooking and for more preparation ideas take a look at this article from Better Homes & Gardens

To Try 

To Use

Enjoy a fresh taste of the Beekman gardens as Josh Kilmer-Purcell & Brent Ridge return to the kitchen with this gorgeous new collection of heirloom-vegetable based recipes. Filled with vegetable-centric recipes for every season,
The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Vegetable Cookbook takes you on a yearlong trip through the Beekman vegetable bounty. You'll discover 100 creative recipes, all designed to delight vegetarians and omnivores alike. Colorful, country-style highlights include spring pea soup, asparagus and prosciutto in puff pastry, refrigerator dilly beans, tomato jam, vegetable-packed mac-and-cheese, caramelized onion-and-potato hand pies, golden crispy rice with winter vegetables —and much more. Hardcover, 288 pages. (Williams-Sonoma, $25.99)