Who doesn’t love spinach? Well, many kids for one; yours truly included. I remember hearing, “Popeye likes spinach. Just try it. You’ll like it too.” Of course, I don’t remember it being fresh sautéed spinach. As I recall, it came from a can just like Popeye ate, salty and slimy. Today, however, I love spinach. I love it so much, I started growing my own.
Spinach is such a versatile leafy green. You can eat it fresh, steamed, or sautéed. You can even make baked spinach chips the same way you make kale chips (see my recipe at the end of this article). And best of all, spinach is packed full of vitamins A, B, C, E and K as well as iron, calcium, zinc and magnesium.
This dark leafy green is a cool weather plant, so seeds can be sown in early spring and in the fall, even grown through winter, particularly if you use cold frames or row covers. During last winter, I did just that. Spinach is a cold-hardy plant that can tolerate cold snaps as low as 20 degrees, so the earlier you can plant in spring, the longer you will enjoy this nutritious green.
By the time summer heat approaches, spinach will begin to bolt. Here in the southwest, my spinach bolted in early May. I allowed it to bloom in order to harvest the seeds. It’s the first time I ever collected spinach seeds. Of course, I researched beforehand as I am learning how to save seeds from my crops. Did you know that spinach is dioecious? What does that mean? Well, basically it means that spinach produce male plants and female plants as opposed to plants that have both male (stamen) and female (pistil) flower parts on a single plant. While both individual male and female spinach plants produce flowers, as nature would have it, only the female plant will produce seeds.
Once the plant dies, you can start harvesting seed. I plucked them from the bed as they were dying and placed them in a paper sack to continue the drying out process. Once dried and the seeds are no longer green, it’s time to harvest the seeds.
It is a tedious process plucking the seed as several can be fused together. However, I was able to collect a fair amount of seed for the next planting season.
These will go into the ground come September. I look forward to another bountiful crop.
Now for that light and crispy spinach chip recipe:
Ingredients: 1 to 2 cups of spinach (depends on how much you want to make) 1 to 1 ½ TBS Olive oil (optional) Salt and Pepper to taste Place spinach on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with oil and with your hands gently toss to make sure spinach leaves are evenly coated. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange leaves so they do not overlap. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.
Now, if you’re really health conscious and want less fat, skip the oil. But, that’s not why I do not use oil on my spinach or kale chips. Without the oil, the spinach chips provide a lighter, airy crunch. You can still add salt and pepper to enhance flavor or substitute salt for garlic salt or any other spices you happen to enjoy. But, what I like about not using the oil is that the chips last longer. You can store them in a container to eat at a later time or crumble them over soups, baked potatoes or add to smoothies. It’s such a versatile food. That’s why I love me spinach.
So, eat you some spinach y’all!