How To Thaw Frozen Spinach And Use It In Recipes

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Spinach is a superfood that is also a very flexible vegetable. You can put it in your salad or cooked dishes. However, you can only keep it for a short duration inside your refrigerator. So the best way would still be to keep it frozen. But how do you thaw spinach when you need it? We looked for the answers, and below is what we found out. 

You can thaw your spinach either in the fridge for a day or two or in the sink overnight. You can also microwave it using the defrost button or run warm water through it to break the ice. Defrosted spinach works well with dips, pasta dishes, soups or stocks, casseroles, stir-fries, stuffed foods, and quiche. If you have less than enough time for meal prep, you can opt to toss your frozen spinach into whatever dish you’re preparing, and, voila—it will thaw in a few minutes with all the flavors still intact!

Continue reading to better understand how thawing your favorite leafy veggie works. We have elaborated below on the different steps to thaw your spinach.  

Cubes of frozen spinach, How To Thaw Frozen Spinach And Use It In Recipes

How to best thaw your spinach

As you may have read above, there are several ways to thaw your spinach. You can go for any of the following:

Slide it in your dish while cooking 

The easiest way to thaw your spinach is to add the frozen block directly to the meal that you are cooking. All you need to do is get the right amount of frozen spinach and toss it with the other ingredients in your pan.

Within minutes, you will see your spinach well integrated into your dish. However, if you do not want the added juice to your dish, you might need to consider other ways of thawing your spinach. 

Cubes of frozen spinach on a black bowl

Move it to the refrigerator to thaw

If you’re not in a hurry and you want your spinach to thaw slowly so that there is less mush, then you can move the spinach from the freezer to the refrigerator to thaw. This is the slowest method as you would need a day or two for it to defrost thoroughly.

Also, you would need to take out the ice blocks or water that melted so that the spinach will not turn soggy. Despite being the slowest, this may be the least pressure on the spinach leaves as you give it time to adjust to the increase in temperature. 

You can opt to place it in an enclosed container with a built-in filter or drain to make it easier to monitor and remove the water as the ice melts.

Just leave it in your sink to thaw

The operative term is to thaw it at room temperature, but we suggest here placing it in the sink so that you won’t need to tidy up while it’s melting. Place the block of spinach that you need to thaw in a colander, and then leave it in the sink to defrost. The duration of thawing will depend on how warm or cool the room is. 

The best time, however, to thaw your spinach is within 8 hours when you’re melting it at room temperature. Once fully defrosted, you can press the excess water with a paper towel or gently squeeze the defrosted leaves by laying it flat on one palm and using the other to push the excess water. 

Run your frozen block with warm water

If you’re in a bit of a hurry, you can run warm water through your frozen spinach to speed up the defrosting process. Make sure that you place your block in a colander so that water is drained automatically.

Ensure that the water pressure is not too intense as you don’t want to pulverize your spinach leaves. Also, do not use hot water as this can further cook your spinach. Hot water can also take out all the juices present in your spinach leaves. You don’t want overcooked spinach as it can quickly turn into tiny bits.

Pop your frozen block into the microwave oven

For 2 minutes, thaw your spinach using the defrost mode of your microwave oven. Don’t use high heat as it can burn your spinach. If your microwave does not have the defrost option, use the lowest heat possible.

Remember, you will still be cooking it together with your other ingredients. So the main objective is to remove the excess water in the form of ice around your spinach. 

Check out this video for a visual guide:

Can you thaw frozen spinach on the counter?

Technically, yes, you can thaw your frozen spinach by leaving it on your kitchen counter. But it is suggested to place it on the sink while on a strainer or colander so that you don’t need to drain it. The water can just drip off and find its way to the drain pipe. 

How do you thaw frozen spinach overnight?

The best way to thaw spinach is to leave it in the refrigerator overnight to thaw. Put it there before you go to bed, and check for the status of defrosting in the morning. You can speed it up by running the spinach under warm water before cooking. Then push out excess water before adding to the dish that you’re cooking.

Make sure to cook your spinach well to eliminate the possibility of bacteria. Cooking the dish above 165°F will ensure that you eliminate any harmful bacteria. This is important if the thawed spinach was not blanched prior to freezing. Take note that listeria and E. coli may find their way into uncooked vegetables and remain dormant while frozen.

How do you cook frozen spinach?

Detailed photo of frozen spinach

There are several ways to cook frozen spinach. The dishes that you can mix it with are plentiful. As mentioned earlier, you can use it in dips, sauces, casseroles, pasta, or as stuffing to your favorite dish or as a pizza topping. You can actually choose from 25 recipes using frozen spinach.

What is the best way to drain frozen spinach?

It is best to place it on a strainer or colander while defrosting. You can put a bowl to catch the water coming from the melted ice or leave it in the sink while defrosting. Once completely thawed, squeeze out the excess water gently by using your hands. Then transfer to a bed of paper towel to further remove additional water. 

Never place the spinach in a salad spinner to take out the excess water. Otherwise, you will end up with your thawed spinach plastered to the salad spinner bowl.

How long is frozen spinach good once thawed?

Defrosted spinach can keep up to 2 days in the fridge. After that, you might need to discard it as the leaves may become soggy or gooey. Anything longer might also run the risk of bacterial contamination, especially if the spinach was not blanched before freezing. Hence, it is crucial that you only thaw the right amount you need for a specific recipe.

It is recommended that you freeze your spinach in separate containers with about a cup or two of spinach leaves. The amount will depend on how much you usually use per recipe. You may have to portion the spinach by allocating the same number of spinach cubes and placing them in separate containers. They're good up to 9 to 14 months when frozen.

How do you defrost spinach for A salad?

You can place it in a microwave for 2 minutes using the defrost mode. If the microwave defrost is not available, use the lowest possible heat. Make sure to remove excess water by squeezing it out and patting it with a dry paper towel. Alternatively, you can use a clean cloth to squeeze out the excess water.

Wrapping it up

Thawing your spinach is as simple as freezing it. Things to consider before freezing your spinach are frequency of use, the amount to be added to recipes, and the type of recipe preparation. You don’t need to use fancy equipment to do so—just your microwave or refrigerator.

As an extra safety precaution, make sure to blanch your spinach before freezing. For handy tips on how to freeze raw and cooked vegetables, check out these articles:

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