Spinach (Spinacia oleracea)

Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) is a species of edible flowering plant in the family Amaranthaceae, native to central and southwestern Asia.

Spinach, up to 30 cm tall, is an annual plant with alternate, simple, ovate to triangular shaped leaves, 2-30 cm long and 1-15 cm broad. The leaves are larger at the base of the plant, and small leaves growing higher on the flowering stem. The small flowers, 3-4 mm in diameter are yellow-green and inconspicuous, maturing into small hard, dry, lumpy fruit clusters, 5-10 mm across, containing several seeds.

There are three different types of spinach.

Savoy - The leaves are dark green, crisp, crinkly, curly with a springy texture.

Flat/ smooth leaf spinach - It is often grown for canned or frozen spinach, as well as baby foods, soups, and processed foods. The leaves are flat, unwrinkled, spade-shaped, broad, and easier to clean than Savoy.

Semi-Savoy - It is a hybrid with slightly crinkled leaves, with same texture as Savoy. This hybrid is grown both for fresh market and for processing.

Baby spinach is an excellent salad ingredient, owing to its taste and delicate texture.

Spinach should be washed very well since the leaves and stems tend to collect sand and soil. Do not wash spinach before storing as the exposure to water encourages spoilage. Boiling spinach in hot water for one minute will free up acids and allow them to leach into the boiling water. This boiling process will brings out a sweeter taste from the spinach. Discard the after-boiling water, do not eat or drink or use it as a stock, as the water contains acids.

Spinach is high in vitamins A, C, E, K, B2, B6, magnesium, manganese, folate, betaine, iron, and calcium. It is also extremely rich in antioxidant, especially when fresh. Raw spinach has a mild, slightly sweet taste that can be refreshing in salads, while the flavor becomes more acidic when it is cooked.

Spinach (Spinacia oleracea)Spinach (Spinacia oleracea)
Author: KENPEI (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)

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