Spinach originated in Asia and was introduced to Europe by Arab traders during the 13th century.
When cooked and chopped, the taste is similar to silverbeet, however, spinach has a milder flavour. Spinach and silverbeet can be interchanged in recipes.
Varieties of spinach
Young spinach leaves are often included in salad mixes and sold with other salad greens. Baby spinach has round to oblong leaves with a mild flavour.
New Zealand spinach
This is a native that grows wild, has triangular leaves and trails over the ground. It is generally cooked as the leaves are coarse and slightly furry when raw. The flavour is similar to standard spinach.
What to look for
Choose crisp green leaves with no signs of wilting or blemishes.
Refrigerate in plastic bags and use promptly.
How to prepare
Trim stalks and wash. Cook spinach without additional water; the water that clings to the spinach after washing should be enough. Remove the stems only if eating raw, otherwise slice and cook with the leaves.
Ways to eat
Spinach can be eaten raw in cold or warm salads or cooked and used as a side dish, in soups or pasta sauces. It is popular in egg dishes such as soufflés, omelettes or quiches. The classic dish, Eggs Benedict, includes spinach.
Boil, microwave, steam, stir fry.
|Serving size: ½ cup 75g|
|Fat, total (g)||0.3||0.40%||0.4|
|- saturated (g)||0.035||0.10%||0.047|
|- sugars (g)||0||0||0|
|Dietary fibre (g)||1.73||5.80%||2.3|
|Vitamin B6 (mg)||0.98||61.3% RDI*||0.13||A good source of vitamin B6|
|Folate (µg)||99||49.5% RDI*||132||A good source of folate|
|Vitamin A Equiv. (µg)||298.73||39.8% RDI*||398.3||A good source of vitamin A Equiv.|
|Iron (mg)||1.36||11.3% RDI*||1.81||A source of iron|
|Potassium (mg)||255||340||Contains potassium|
|Calcium (mg)||66||8.3% RDI*||88|
|Riboflavin (mg)||0.11||6.5% RDI*||0.14|
|Niacin (mg)||0.495||4.9% RDI*||0.66|
|Zinc (mg)||0.31||2.6% RDI*||0.41|
|Vitamin C (mg)||0.9||2.3% RDI*||1.2|
|Vitamin E (mg)||0||0% RDI*||0|
|Selenium (µg)||0||0% RDI*||0|
|Thiamin (mg)||0||0% RDI*||0|
Percentage Daily Intakes are based on an average adult diet of 8700 kJ
Source: The Concise New Zealand Food Composition Tables, 10th Edition, Plant & Food Research - 2014
Spinach deserves its reputation as a health enhancing vegetable, being a good source of both nutrients and phytonutrients. It is a good source of vitamins A (in the form of beta-carotene), B6 and folate. Spinach is also a source of iron plus contains potassium. Spinach is also low in energy (kilojoules). The phytonutrients of most importance are the carotenoids (beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin), flavonoids and other phenolic compounds. It should also be noted that spinach contains oxalic acid which can decrease the body’s absorption of calcium and iron from spinach. Cooking can reduce the effect of oxalic acid.
Spinach is highly perishable so correct storage is essential to prolong life. Display on refrigerated shelving. Packing in plastic bags helps to retain moisture and therefore quality. Ensure spinach is kept moist. Use QR code on labels.
Store at 2-5°C with a relative humidity of 90-100%. The optimum storage temperature is 0°C, but because of the risk of the product freezing a slightly higher temperature is recommended. Spinach is ethylene sensitive so store separately from ethylene producing products.
Purchase spinach with the New Zealand GAP logo.
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