…and why you should.
We are trying to eat healthier at our house by having a salad every day at lunch. We are also trying to do this on a budget, which can sometimes be problematic. I’m sure you’ve noticed that fresh, organic produce just costs more. I get around that by purchasing our food in as big a bag as possible.
We frequent Costco and other big box stores and purchase big bags of organic spinach. Thers is just one small problem, we can never eat one of those big bags before it starts to turn bad.
You may say – just purchase it in smaller quantities – and I could do that, but with just a bit of effort I can dehydrate that leftover spinach and use it for other recipes. That makes it an especially frugal purchase when there is no waste.
I think it’s a win all around!
How to Dehydrate Spinach
If you are using spinach that is getting ready to be “past its prime,” remove any leaves that are wilted.
Thoroughly rinse the remaining spinach leaves and pat them dry with a clean towel. The drier the produce, the less time it will take to complete a batch.
Arrange the leaves in a single layer on the dehydrator trays. The leaves can touch but they should not be stacked upon each other.
Dry at 125° for 4 to 6 hours. Depending on your machine you may need to rearrange the trays so that each one dries evenly. I like to take the top tray and move it to the bottom after about 2 hours.
Some preparation books call for blanching the spinach leaves for 3 to 4 minutes before drying it. I have not found that to be necessary, it does not affect the taste either way.
Once the spinach leaves are completely dry and crispy you have a few options.
- You can leave them whole and store them in a plastic zip bag or canning jar so they will remain dry. We like to use these in our morning eggs. They rehydrated nicely when used in dishes that have moisture when cooking.
- You can crumble the spinach into flakes and use it for many dishes:
- If you are cooking for picky eaters, the flavor is easy to disguise. Put a 1/4 cup of dehydrated spinach flakes in a fruit smoothie to provide extra nutrition without overpowering the sweetness of the fruit.
- Add dried spinach flakes to soups, spreads, casseroles, and pasta sauces.
- Incorporate spinach in breads and muffins for a healthier treat that tastes great.
3. Take it a step further and turn your spinach flakes into powder. I have a coffee grinder that I use just for herbs and spices. These are some of the things I’ve done:
- Spinach powder can be used to replace some of the flour in breads and baked goods. Replace up to 1/4 cup of flour with dried spinach powder in your favorite recipe.
- Spinach powder can be used as a natural food dye or to color handmade soap.
- Spinach powder can be mixed with equal parts kelp powder to make a skin nourishing face mask. Some people swear by its puffiness and redness reducing power.
Method No. 2: Dehydrating Spinach In the Oven
Not everyone has a food processor at home. As such, you can use oven drying, the alternative way for dehydrating spinach without the need for a food dehydrator.
To dehydrate your spinach in the oven, follow these next steps:
- wash the spinach thoroughly and remove any dead leaves
- remove large stems and the excess water, but with a solid focus on shaking it to dry off
- optionally, you can chop the leaves to make them less of a hassle to grind for storage
- set the oven to the lowest possible setting and to match the temperature of a food dehydrator
- lay the spinach in a single even layer on a cookie rack; dehydrating in the cookie rack leaves enough airflow above and below the spinach.
Since even the lowest setting on an oven is higher than the needed 125 degrees Fahrenheit, you should leave the batch for only two or three hours.
Method No. 3: Hang Dry the Spinach
For centuries, people have used the power of nature to dry their spinach and other vegetables. Luckily, this is a time-tested method that won’t require much hassle. Just a little extra waiting time.
- first, wash the spinach thoroughly and rip out the dead parts of the leaves
- remove excessive water by pouring it down the sink and thoroughly shaking the leaves
- arrange them on a line, making sure the stem part is facing outward
- use the butcher’s string to tie the stems tightly
- hang the spinach in a place that’s hot enough without putting them in direct sunlight.
Now leave them to dehydrate for about two to three weeks. Sure, the process takes much longer, but your spinach is getting dried naturally. When the spinach becomes crispy and brittle, you’ll know it’s time to take it off the clothesline.
Just like with the other two methods, you’ll need to store it properly to preserve its nutritious value and shelf life.
See more ideas in this article from Mountain Rose Herbs – Ode to spinach powder.
Spinach is a healthy addition to most every meal. Learn how to dehydrate spinach that might otherwise go to waste and make the best use of your food purchases.
Have you dehydrated spinach leaves? What is your favorite way to use them?