First harvests of 2016 – the spinach!

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Deck planter full of spinach. Also, notice the drip irrigation I’ve installed over it?

Wow, what a difference a month makes!

I’m back from out of town, and wow, a lot has happened!  My garden has started producing like crazy.  There’s actually too much to take in all at once, so I’ll make this a couple of posts.

First, the spinach… I got two harvests out of the spinach.  I cut the spinach like grass, just “mowing” it a little down to size.  The spinach leaves are just a little bigger than baby spinach leaves, and very firm and full of juice.

So of course I used them in two different recipes that removed that juice!

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First harvest of spinach

Okay, I know that seems weird, but from what I can tell, my deck planter is going to be producing a LOT of spinach over the summer, and I’ve got to find ways to use it all, and to store it for later.

My first idea was to store the spinach… by dehydrating it.  So I washed it clean, and loaded up my dehydrator with spinach leaves.

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Spinach on the dehydrator tray

It dehydrated very quickly, in about 3 hours it was mostly dry.  Some things I learned from this is that the fan in the dehydrator is strong enough to blow the dry spinach around… so I need to do something about that.  (Perhaps put another dehydrator grill over the top?  hmmm..)  The next thing I learned is that I should pick the leaves so that they leave the stems behind.

What I got was a lot of very brittle dried spinach leaves that crumbled almost as soon as I touched them.  Just using my hands I crumbled them to powder in a bowl.

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No officer, that’s not an unlawful herb!

A lot of spinach turned into something very small.  I tossed it all into a ziploc bag, and tossed that into my freezer.  The next time I make a soup or stew, I’ll just toss it in there.  I’ll bet it would go great with ramen!

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This is what it is supposed to look like!

And speaking of ramen, I used the next batch of spinach to make a Korean dish called, “Sigeumchi-namul” (시금치나물).  It’s a traditional Korean side dish (banchan) that uses blanched spinach.  It is a dish I fell in love with the first time I had it while stationed in Uijeongbu.  I’ve used the recipe from the Maangchi Korean recipe website.

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Blanched for 63 seconds. TOO LONG!

Basically you blanch the spinach, rinse it and squeeze the water out of it.  Then you add garlic and chopped onions.  You add soy sauce and sesame oil in equal portions.  And you sprinkle it with sesame seeds.  It is delicious!

But I haven’t made this recipe in almost ten years.  I forgot that you should only blanch the spinach briefly.  The recipe calls for 30 seconds to one minute… I would recommend 30 seconds and no more!  Otherwise it stops being crisp and starts being mushy.  Bleh.

Oh well, there’s plenty more spinach.  I’ll try again.  Until then, I’ll be adding spinach to every sandwich I eat