You can freeze kale, spinach, and almost any other green! Here are 2 EASY ways to freeze greens quickly and prevent food and money waste. Works with spinach, kale, collards, chard, and other green leafy vegetables.
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Spinach and kale are the food everyone loves to hate.
People who love green leafy vegetables 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? of course! Veggies are good for us.
But let’s just call it that.
Kombucha is a weird drink that you might eventually learn to enjoy if you decide to give up soda. Green smoothies are a brilliant way to make vegetables taste like fruit.
Sometimes in our attempts to eat more spinach and kale, we end up with too many. In an effort to reduce food waste and learn to use what we have, here’s an easy hack for you!
Freeze spinach and kale so they don’t go bad and you can use them later. And remember that this hack works for other green leafy vegetables too: collards, beet greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, etc.
Can I Freeze Kale and Spinach and Collards?
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 and sometimes we can’t eat them quickly enough.
If you buy greens, and you feed people with taste buds and picky 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.
Green Leafy Vegetables You Can Freeze:
Pretty much any green leafy vegetable works with this method!
- Baby greens
- Swiss chard
- Rainbow chard
- Collard greens
- Turnip greens
- Beet greens
- I’ve even done this with baby bok choy! It worked, but it wasn’t great.
Freeze Kale & Other Greens
The truth is that many of us end up with too many green leafy vegetables. You know that meme floating around that says, “I wish I was the person I thought I could be when I bought all this produce?”
We all do. But some weeks, we just don’t get there. Maybe we were too busy and didn’t have time to cook. Maybe we made too much of something else and spent the week eating that. Maybe we got tired of the kids complaining about our food and we just gave up for a little bit.
That’s real life, and it’s okay.
In order to save money and eat healthy, we need to reduce food waste and use what we have. That includes the veggies in our fridge that we don’t want to eat anymore.
No problem! Just freeze them and use them later.
Does Spinach (or Kale or Collards) Freeze Well?
I prefer the taste of fresh spinach cooked into soups and dips and such. But frozen tastes great too. The reality is that when we try to save money and eat healthy, we don’t always make the gourmet choice. Sometimes we just need to eat. And if that means freezing my spinach and kale so I don’t have to waste hard-earned money, I’m in.
You can even use it in smoothies! I recommend using a high-powered blender with frozen greens (like a Nutribullet or Vitamix – both of which we love). Some people say they can taste a difference, but I personally don’t. Do what you need to do.
How to Freeze Kale & Collard Greens
Here’s the good news: you can freeze all of these green leafy vegetables the same way – no matter the type of green! Whether you need to freeze kale, collard greens, spinach, a bag of mixed baby greens from the grocery store, a pile of mature greens from your CSA box or garden. It doesn’t matter.
There are 2 simple methods to freeze kale (or whatever) that you can use, and I’ll explain them below.
How do I Freeze Kale without Blanching?
It’s so easy, guys.
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.
That’s it. No need to do anything else.
How to Remove the Stem of the Kale, Chard, or Collards
This step is optional, but if you don’t want the thick, more bitter stem in your frozen greens, you can remove it this way.
This step is specifically for mature greens with thick stems – like kale, Swiss chard, rainbow chard, or collard greens. You won’t need to do it with spinach, because those stems don’t get thick enough.
Remove the stems of the greens by grasping the base of the stem in one hand and wrapping your other hand (mostly just the fingers) around the stem next to your hand. Slide your fingers down the stem, towards the top. Does that make sense? This way, most of the leafy part should be stripped from the thicker part of the stem.
Discard the stems or toss them in your broth bag to make it into broth later. Obviously, I recommend the no-food-waste option.
Chopped Frozen Greens – The Easy Way
Chopped greens are much easier to add to soups, dips, and stews. You can chop them ahead of time – that’s the normal way.
But if you like short cuts, just freeze them whole. When you removed them from the freezer to use in the soups, smash the bags around a little bit with your hands. The frozen brittle greens will break into pieces. BOOM. Chopped spinach.
This is obviously not the way to do it if you want all the greens to be a consistent size. Do what makes you happy. Saving time in the kitchen makes me happy.
Why You Do Not Want to Bother Blanching Spinach or Kale First:
- It’s fast
- It’s easy
- And it’s ready for cooking or green smoothies
Why You Want to Blanch Spinach or Kale First:
- Unblanched uses more freezer space than blanching greens first
- If you drink a lot of green smoothies, some people claim that too many raw greens are hard on your stomach.
How to Blanch & Freeze Kale, Spinach, Collard Greens, or Swiss Chard
- Pour a few inches 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 in a little because the veggies will wilt quickly and decrease in size).
- Cover with a lid. Cook for about 1 minute, until greens are wilted through.
- Pour greens through a colander and rinse with cold water to stop them from cooking further.
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 tiny bit of greens into a dish for picky eaters.
Why You Want to Blanch Greens Before You Freeze Them:
- The greens cook down so much, you save a LOT of freezer space.
- Cook time for blanched greens is pretty short – all you need to do is toss it into whatever dish, and once it thaws and it’s pretty much ready.
Why You Do Not Want to Bother Blanching Spinach or Kale First:
- It takes more time and you have better things to do
How to Flash Freeze Kale & Other Vegetables
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, 2 tablespoons of cooked greens – on a baking sheet with the tiniest bit of space in between. (See photo below of smoothie kits for an example)
- Place the baking sheet in the freezer for 4 hours or overnight.
- Remove the baking sheet from the freezer, let it thaw slightly, then use a spatula to move the frozen chunks to a labeled freezer bag.
- Freeze and use as needed.
What Can You do with Frozen Greens?
You do the same thing that you do with frozen spinach or kale from the grocery store! I admit that frozen greens don’t taste as great as fresh cooked greens. But if it helps me save money and eat healthy, I’m game.
- How to Make Cheap Smoothies
- Githeri (Kenyan Vegetable Soup)
- Cajun Beans & Rice
- Modified Macaroni & Cheese
- Turmeric Lentil Soup
- Easy Frittata
- Vegetable Soup
- Hamburger Vegetable Soup
- Cheesy Lentil Pie
- Picadillo (Mexican Beef & Potato Stew)
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
More Money-Saving Produce Hacks
- Easy Slow Cooker Marinara
- How to Freeze Greens (the Easy Way!)
- 5 Ways to Save Money on Fruits & Vegetables
- Potato Peel Soup
- What to Do with Leftover Juicing Pulp
- How Zucchini Noodles Fit in a Tight Budget
- How to Freeze Tomatoes (The Easy Way)
- How to Freeze Peaches
As far as I’m concerned, neither of these freezing method is better than the other. It’s just personal preference. Use whichever works for you in this season! The goal is to prevent waste, save money, and help our family eat more veggies.
What You Can Do Now:
What do you do with frozen greens?
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Great information. Thanks so much.
This was a big help for me in salvaging the remains of an open clamshell of baby spinach this week. But here is a super-important PSA: I purchased an 11 ounce container of “triple washed” baby spinach from Whole Foods (best by date Mar 31 2020) and there were several blobs of visible mud dispersed throughout the package!!! It was so disgusting. I put all of the leaves through my salad spinner and there was a lot of dirt at the bottom of each batch. I am very glad I did not just put the package in the freezer and then use it in a recipe later. After this experience I think I will always be washing my greens before using them, no matter what kind of washing the packaging claims!
Whew! Thanks for the heads up, Dana.
This is really helpful. We have a garden overflowing with green leafies and I was not sure what to do with them. The slugs and bugs are moving fast right now, so I need to preserver it NOW 🙂
Helle, I’m so glad this helped you!