How to Freeze Leftover Greens the EASY Way
Do you end up with extra spinach or kale that goes bad? You can freeze them! Here are 2 EASY ways to freeze greens quickly and prevent food and money waste. Works with spinach, kale, collards, chard, and any other green leafy vegetable.
Greens are the food everyone loves to hate.
People who love greens are almost exclusively health nuts. They are the kind of friend who insists that kombucha and water kefir are an equivalent trade for your soda habit. Or that green smoothies are as good as ones made with all fruit and frozen yogurt.
Are they better for you? Obviously.
Just call it that.
What You Can do With Frozen Greens:
- Githeri (Kenyan Vegetable Soup)
- Cajun Beans & Rice
- Modified Macaroni & Cheese
- Green Smoothies
- Easy Frittata
- Vegetable Soup
- Hamburger Vegetable Soup
- Cheesy Lentil Pie
- Picadillo (Mexican Beef & Potato Stew)
Like any good suburban hippy, I try to use spinach and kale like they’re the new ketchup – slipping them into every dish I can. However, we often end up with extra. It’s normally either the last bit of kale, a boatload of spinach from our Pallet garden, or when I buy 3 boxes of organic baby greens on markdown from Kroger.
CSA boxes tend to pack a lot of greens in the spring – because they’re in season – and sometimes we can’t eat them quickly enough.
If you buy greens, and you feed people with taste buds and opinions, you probably end up with extra.
To prevent food waste and frugal-foodie guilt, I freeze them. Here are 2 EASY ways to freeze greens quickly and prevent food and money waste. Works with spinach, kale, collards, chard, and any other green leafy vegetable.
Method 1: The Quick, Easy Way
This is my preferred method in this season of life. Either put the bag or box of greens straight into the freezer or pack it in a freezer bag first – depends on how much space you have in your freezer.
When you’re ready to cook with it, just crumble the frozen leaves with your hands (or in the bag first), so you end up with bite-size pieces. You might need to chop them for picky eaters.
- Ready for cooking or green smoothies
- Uses more freezer space than Method 2
- If you drink a lot of green smoothies, some people claim that too many raw greens are hard on your stomach.
- If you have greens with a woody stem (think full-grown kale, not baby greens), the frozen stem won’t break apart easily. Not a problem if you’re tossing it into a smoothie. If you’re cooking it in soup or a frittata, chop it (which you can do before or after freezing – whatever works for you).
3 lbs of Markdown greens will totally go bad if I keep them fresh. So we packed them in freezer bags (raw) and stash them in the freezer for later. We use them in smoothies, soups, frittata – anything with cooked or blended greens. Easy. •••• What do you make with greens? . . #greens #realfood #eathealthy #greensmoothies #kitchentips
Method 2: The Efficient Prepper Way
Boil: Pour 1-inch of water into a gallon-size pot. Heat the pot on the stove over high heat. Loosely chop your greens. Place them in the pot (you can pack it a little because the veggies will wilt quickly and decrease in size). Cover with a lid. Cook for a few minutes, until greens are wilted through. Some people say you should boil full-grown greens for an hour for optimum nutrient absorption.
Remove the lid, drain the greens by pouring them into a colander placed in a clean sink. Let the greens cool.
Now you can either:
- Divide the greens into 1/2-1 cup portions, pack them in freezer bags or containers, and freeze until you need them.
- Make little piles of greens on a cookie sheet and flash freeze them. This sounds fussy, but it only takes 2 extra minutes (I checked). It’s ideal if you’re using them for green smoothies or sneaking a little bit of greens into a dish for picky eaters.
How to Flash Freeze
The idea behind flash freezing is this: Freeze juicy things individually first so that when you toss them in a bag, they don’t harden into a solid block of frozen mess. If you’ve ever tried to freeze bananas without flash freezing, you know what I mean.
Place produce – in this case, a little pile of veggies (think 1-2 rounded tablespoons) – on a baking sheet with the tiniest bit of space in between. See photo below of smoothie kits for an example. Place baking sheet in the freezer for 4 hours or overnight.
Remove baking sheet from the freezer, let it thaw slightly, then use a pancake turner to move the frozen chunks to a labeled freezer bag. Freeze and use as needed.
Pros to Method 2:
- Because these are cooked first, this method is ideal for both cooking and green smoothies without the “risk” of hurting your stomach.
- Cook time for frozen greens is pretty short – all you need to do is toss it into whatever dish and once it thaws, it’s pretty much ready.
- Because the greens cook down so much, you save a LOT of freezer space.
- The stems are already cooked and chopped so you don’t run into the same problem as Method 1.
Cons to Method 2:
- Obviously takes more time than Method 1.
As far as I’m concerned, neither method is better than the other. Use whichever works for you in this season! The goal is to prevent waste, save money, and help our family eat more veggies.
Even though they clearly aren’t as delicious as soda. They are better for us. We’ll call it that.