We got seven bags of spinach leaves from the local food drive this week. (For those who don't know, we're one of the "cleanup" families for the food distribution. If they have leftovers, they call us.)
Anyway, what was I going to do with seven bags of spinach leaves? I like spinach salad well enough, but I'm the only one. And seven bags was a bit much for me.
We don't eat much spinach otherwise with one exception: it's wonderful in lasagna. And whenever I make lasagna, I buy two packages of chopped spinach at the grocery store. Why not can it instead of buying it frozen?
A quick consultation in my beloved Putting Food By revealed that yes, canning spinach was actually quite common. Who'da thunk?
First thing to do was chop it. I don't have a food processor, though this is one of the rare times I wish I did. So I used the little mini chopper I have for my blender, and it worked just fine. It just took a long time to get through all seven bags.
Nine ounces of spinach leaves per bag... that made 63 oz. of chopped spinach.
Left me with green hands!
I thought I could fit all the leaves into about six jars...
...but I ended up using thirteen.
According to the book, greens take only a 1/4 teaspoon of salt per pint, rather than the usual 1/2 teaspoon.
I used some of my newly-purchased reusable canning lids from Tattler. Whoo-hoo, any excuse!
Spinach takes a fairly long processing time, 70 minutes (at 10 lbs pressure) for pints. When I took the jars out of the canner (making the house smell oppressively of spinach), I was surprised at how much it had compacted inside the jars.
The reason for all the extra room was because I didn't compact the spinach too much when I packed the jars. Make a note, squish it down next time. I think I could have gotten away with six jars after all.
My husband took one look at the bright green jars and said they looked revoltingly healthy. No matter, now I don't have to buy frozen spinach next time I make lasagna!
By the way, here's the lasagna recipe I use. This is one of those meals that, eventually, I hope to be able to make entirely from scratch. We can grow the herbs, make the cheeses, make the noodles from our own eggs and wheat flour, use spiced ground beef instead of pork sausage, etc.
1 lb. Italian sausage
2 cloves minced garlic
1 T basil
1 1/2 t salt
2 cups canned tomatoes
12 oz. tomato paste
3 cups ricotta cheese
1 pkg. chopped frozen spinach (defrosted, of course)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2 T parsley flakes
2 beaten eggs
1 t salt
1 t pepper
10 oz. lasagna noodles
1 lb Mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
Brown meat; drain. Add garlic, basil, salt, tomatoes, paste. Simmer uncovered 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Cook noodles in boiling water until tender. Drain and rinse in cold water.
Combine other ingredients in a separate bowl except for the mozzarella cheese. Layer noodles, meat, and cheese mixture in a 13x9x2 pan. Top with thin slices of mozzarella.
Bake at 375F for about one hour; let stand 15 minutes.
Needless to say, I always double the recipe and freeze the uncooked extra pan for a future meal.