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Spinach


Storage

Store spinach in the vegetable crisper of your refrigerator. You can store spinach longer if you clean it before placing it in the refrigerator.

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Origins and Culture

Spinach is thought to have originated in ancient Persia (Iran). Spinach made its way to China in the 7th century when the king of Nepal sent it as a gift to this country. Spinach has a much more recent history in Europe than many other vegetables. It was only brought to that continent in the 11th century, when the Moors introduced it into Spain. In fact, for a while, spinach was known as "the Spanish vegetable" in England.
Spinach was the favorite vegetable of Catherine de Medici, a historical figure in the 16th century. When she left her home of Florence, Italy, to marry the king of France, she brought along her own cooks, who could prepare spinach the ways that she especially liked. Since this time, dishes prepared on a bed of spinach are referred to as "a la Florentine."

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Nutritional and Medicinal Properties

Studies suggest that spinach may guard against cancer, reduce the risk of heart disease, protect vision, and help stave off depression. Spinach is one of the best sources of phytochemicals called carotenoids, which help keep your immune system strong and may help prevent a variety of cancers. Spinach is an excellent source of minerals and vitamins including calcium, iron, sodium, potassium, Vitamins A, B complex, C, folic acid and B12. However, spinach contains oxalic acid, which can interfere with calcium absorption. So if you depend on leafy greens for your source of calcium, then make sure you cook your spinach, and include kale, collards, broccoli or bok choy, which are all low in oxalic acid. Cooking spinach does reduce the oxalic acid, but cooking also reduces its mineral content.

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Basic Cooking Instructions

Spinach is a versatile green that is excellent eaten fresh in a salad, or cooked in soups, stews, stir-fries, pasta dishes, and casseroles. Spinach can even be juiced. Spinach is excellent combined with blander vegetables such as potatoes or zucchini and with salty or tart foods such as tamari, tomato and lemon. Spinach's subtle, assertive flavour also combines with eggs, fish and cheese. Be careful to not overcook spinach. We don't recommend pre-cooking it for baked dishes unless the recipe has a good reason to do so. You need very little water to cook spinach as long as you stir it.

Fresh spinach needs to be handled with care and washed thoroughly to remove the silt and sand that is often trapped between the leaves. Soak it in a sink of cold water, gently swishing it around to remove sand or mud. Drain and repeat until the water is clear. Don't let it soak too long or handle it roughly or you'll get dark, soggy places where the vitamins have gone.

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