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Spinach is a vegetable, belonging to the group of leaf vegetables and the botanical family of Chenopodiaceae. It is usually sold fresh or frozen. Fresh spinach is sold with or without stems and roots and called root or stem spinach and leaf spinach. Spinach with stems is harvested by hand, leaf spinach without stems is harvested with machines. Those different harvesting methods do not result in differences in quality. The only major difference is the amount of waste during cleaning.

Spinach is available in different varieties: savoy spinach, which has dark green curly leaves, flat-leaf or smooth spinach, which has no wrinkles and is easier to clean and semi-savoy spinach, a mixture of savoy and flat leaf spinach. Baby spinach is flat-leaf spinach that is harvested very young. It has small, tender leaf and is more expensive than mature leaves.

Most often spinach is not sold by variety but by sowing time and harvesting method. Spring spinach has tender leaves that may be eaten raw in salads. The leaves of summer spinach can also be eaten raw but are a bit more robust. Fall spinach and winter spinach is very robust and strong-tasting. Its curly leaves are better suited for blanching. It is a delicacy, when it is tossed in butter, shallots and garlic. Raw, pureed and strained spinach is a wonderful food colouring for homemade pasta.

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Nutrients of spinach

Besides its culinary excellence spinach is a vegetable high in minerals and vitamins. Unfortunately it also accumulates nitrate and oxalic acid. The nitrate content may be reduced by up to 70% when the spinach is blanched.

Horenso is a Japanese spinach variety. Compared to European spinach it is milder in taste and slightly sweeter. Its leaves are arrow-shaped and tapered to a point. In Europe it is barely available for sale.

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