Making a smoothie is a simple and delicious way to not only make you feel full but bring fruits and vegetables into your diet. One of the most versatile items to put in a smoothie is spinach because it provides you with essential nutrients and can be easily combined with many other flavors. However, if you want to make sure your spinach lasts long enough to make it into your next smoothie, you’ll need to freeze it.
How can I freeze spinach for my smoothies? Follow these steps to freeze your spinach for your next smoothie:
- Remove spinach from the container it came in.
- Wash and dry spinach leaves and rip them into small pieces.
- Place dry, ripped spinach in a labeled freezer bag.
- Leave the bag in the freezer until ready to use.
If you would like to keep your smoothie prep simple, that is going to be the most basic method for freezing fresh spinach. If you are looking to take your smoothie game to the next level, however, here are a few modifications you can try to ensure that your spinach-filled drinks are off the charts.
Blanching Your Spinach
One extra step that makes a significant impact on how your frozen spinach tastes is blanching it before you load it into bags and toss it in the freezer. Blanching vegetables before freezing them has a couple of benefits. It not only helps the produce retain its color and texture but also helps slow the enzymes in the food that can cause decay and loss of vital nutrients.
It is recommended that you only keep un-blanched frozen spinach in the freezer for up to 14 weeks. After that period, it will begin to turn bad, which means when you add it to your smoothies, it may be a bit slimy and strong-smelling and certainly will not give you the fresh taste you’re looking for.
Therefore, if you are only planning to keep your spinach frozen for a few weeks before you use it, blanching could be useful but is optional. If your goal is to bulk-freeze multiple bags of spinach to keep for several months, blanching is highly suggested, so the spinach does not lose its flavor and consistency as soon.
The process of blanching is fairly effortless and does not take much time:
- Before putting the spinach into the freezer, simply scoop it into a pot of boiling water or a steamer and let it sit for about 1-2 minutes.
- Then, immediately dunk it into a bucket of ice water. The shock of going immediately from hot to cold will preserve the vitamins and brighten the color and will ultimately help the spinach stay fresh longer in the freezer.
It is recommended that if you are using a steamer (Amazon) to heat the spinach, you let it sit a bit longer, as it won’t be affected as quickly as it would directly in hot water. As well, you may want to place a colander (Amazon) in the bucket of ice, as that will prevent having to pick ice out of the spinach, and it will be much easier to move into a freezer bag.
Spinach Smoothie Cubes
Adding in a frozen element can help thicken up the smoothie and make it just a little bit more filling. You may be able to achieve this by simply throwing in your frozen spinach, but because the leaves have been ripped up into small pieces, it may not be enough to give you a rich consistency. An easy solution? Turning your spinach into frozen spinach cubes:
- Instead of ripping up the spinach and immediately placing it in a bag in the freezer, put the torn spinach into a blender along with a large amount of water.
- Blend it up until it is a purée of spinach and water, and then pour it into a tray of some sort. You could use whatever you have on hand—ice cube trays, silicone baking trays, even a muffin tin!
- Once you have poured the mixture into your container of choice, stick it in the freezer and let the puréed spinach freeze into spinach-ice cubes.
- Then, when it is solid, toss a couple of them into the blender with the rest of your smoothie ingredients, and the frozen cubes will give you a thick, frosty smoothie.
If your plan is to freeze the spinach into specific portion sizes, making frozen spinach cubes is a great way to ensure you’re sticking to the amount you want to eat each time. If your goal is to use your frozen spinach for one smoothie at a time, it is much easier to determine how much you are putting into the blender when the spinach is frozen into a certain-sized cube.
Instead of pulling out a bunch of individual frozen spinach leaves to make your smoothie and guessing how much you are actually grabbing, you only need to decide how many cubes to blend in. Depending on how much green juice you would like your smoothie to have, you can choose to add more or less cubes.
When the spinach cubes are finished freezing, you may decide to leave them in the container they cooled in. Otherwise, you can pop them out of the tray and put them inside a separate freezer bag. You may also decide to do this if you have puréed spinach that did not fit into the first round of cubes. You can remove the first batch, set them aside in their bag, and then finish freezing the remaining liquid in the blender.
Prepped Smoothie Bags
Smoothies are great to drink not only because they are made up of whole, healthy ingredients, but also because they are a quick, easy way to enjoy a meal. Many people often find themselves throwing together a smoothie in the morning before heading out to start their day because they can drink it on their way to work.
Prepping your smoothie ingredients ahead of time is a great way to avoid that challenge. Since you are already freezing torn up spinach in freezer bags for easy access, why not add other veggies and do it for the whole smoothie? Easy green smoothies!
- Cut or rip up any other fruits or vegetables you would like to include in your prep bags so they can be blended easily. Again, make sure you are careful about the portion sizes you are adding. If your goal is to get one smoothie out of a bag, only put in that much of each ingredient.
- Separate your spinach and the rest of your fruits and vegetables into individual portions in multiple bags and then add whatever other components you would like—powders, seeds, nut butters—anything you can think of! Give yourself a few options to choose from in your prepped smoothie bags, so on those days when you’re really craving a green juice smoothie over a fruity or chocolatey one, it is easily accessible.
- Then, when you are in a time crunch, you can just grab one of your prepackaged smoothie kits, add your liquid of choice, blend, and it’s ready to go! It will save you a little bit of time and effort freezing the spinach and all the other smoothie ingredients together and will provide some variety, so you’re not drinking the same drink over and over again every day.
No matter how it’s done, freezing spinach to use in smoothies is an easy way to save time, effort, and money. Whether the spinach is blanched to keep it staying fresh and bright green before freezing, puréed and frozen into a solid ice cube, or even just torn up into little bits and stuck in a freezer bag, keeping spinach cold until it’s ready to be used can help in a lot of ways. It can move a routine along, get everyone out the door faster, and even prevent waste, and will ultimately play a large part in creating a top-notch smoothie.
This of course works with other leafy greens like Kale and you can add frozen fruit to your smoothie recipe for easy prep. Frozen greens taste much the same and baby spinach is really easy to work with. And fresh greens go off quickly so freezing them is a great way to deal with them.