Made famous by Popeye, spinach has a large nutritional value, rich in iron, vitamin A, C, E, K, magnesium and several antioxidants. It is also very high in folate.
There are three basic types of spinach flat-leaf spinach, savoy and semi-savoy. Spinach is sold loose, in pre-packaged bags, canned and frozen, and is available all-year-round.
Always choose spinach with vibrant deep green leaves and stems with no signs of yellowing. Avoid any spinach with a slimy coating as this is a sign of decay.
Fresh spinach tends to lose much of its nutritional value with storage of more than two to three days. Storing spinach loosely packed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper will keep its nutrients intact for about a week. Make sure never to wash spinach before storing as the moisture will cause it to rot. Storing spinach in the freezer will keep nutrients for up to eight months.
Whether bunched or pre-packaged, always wash spinach well as the leaves and stems tend to collect sand and soil, therefore tasting gritty. Before washing, trim the roots and separate the leaves. The best way to wash spinach is to lightly swish in a large bowl of lukewarm water.
Spinach is best eaten raw in salads or steamed. It is very important not to overcook the spinach, as it will lose most of its nutritional value, especially iron and folate.