Friday, October 15, 2010

Canning spinach

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.


  1. Well, I like the jars. The spinach...not so much. You're right about it being good in lasagna, though.

    Anonymous Patriot

  2. love spinach! I was told canning greens wasn't the best idea, but that looks great! I canned kale, so why not spinach?
    I can't wait till next year when my spinach crop comes in.

  3. I know what I'm cooking for dinner tonight!!!!

  4. great in stuffed shells too,and on homemade pizza!
    I am goona have to find a pressure canner............way too much I can't can without it.


  5. Spinach is also antastic in talapia or salmon florentine and I say this as someone who is NOT a fan of spinach.

  6. Our family loves spinach. And I'm just learning how to can, so I'm keeping this in mind for next year when our home-grown spinach comes in. Thanks Patrice!

    Andrea S

  7. And you felt you didn't have a green thumb!!

    Steve Davis
    Anchorage, Alaska

  8. I just stack the leaves up and give them two or three quick slices with a knife. They cook down so much that blenderizing them would make them mush. Though, we eat it as a supper veggie dish. I suppose in lasagna you want it pasty?
    Most of the time I can mine with some crumbles of fried bacon, minced onions, and a few spicy herbs.

    Very LOL, Anonymous 8:40Am!

  9. If you haven't tried it,you can make you own ricotta cheese at less cost by putting plain cottage cheese in a cloth bag and letting it drain.

  10. I never cook my lasagna noodles. I layer sauce, noodles(uncooked),sauce, ricotta mixture, Mozzarella and repeat x3. I cook for 1 hour 15 minutes, covered,375 degrees, using extra large pan. Works great!
    Karen in OK

  11. Spinach also makes for a great vegetable in a scalloped potato casserole dish.

  12. I dehydrate it (I'm not much on canning), and throw it into soups and stews for a little extra natural vitamin boost in the winter.

  13. I dehydrate mine as well. I put it in burgers, homemade flat breads and just recently used it to thicken up my sloppy joe recipe.

  14. Oh Wow! I hadn't thought about dehydrating spinach...gotta try that one!