Spinach is a nutrient-dense vegetable that works well in salads and sandwiches. When you buy spinach, it usually comes in a plastic bag with leaves of all sizes. But how do you know how many leaves you need for your recipes? Which leaves are better? I got you!
Generally, spinach leaves are classified as young and mature. Spinach leaves are roughly 6cm long and 4.5cm wide. Young leaves are around 4cm long, while mature leaves are around 6cm long. The recommended serving size is 1 cup, which weighs about 28 grams.
The experiment that I conducted will reveal the ideal serving size of spinach, what are its shapes, and how much spinach is ideal for a day. So what are you waiting for? Read forward!
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Spinach packages from grocery stores usually weigh around 200 to 500 grams. To preserve the nutrients and appearance of the vegetable, most packs of spinach leaves still include the stems.
Yes, I went to the shop and I bought spinach just for you (and then I ate them!)
To start this experiment, I bought a pack of spinach from a grocery store. Do not be surprised if the raw spinach still comes with stem and leaves! This is done to still provide the leaves with a source of water, which is the stem, to keep them fresh and juicy!
When I opened the packaging, some of the leaves were damaged, while others were still healthy. Some of the common damages observed are small holes, wilting leaves, and slashes from the leaf margins. These are caused by insect pests, loss of water, and physical woundings during the packaging process, respectively.
Initially, this spinach from the grocery store weighed 350 grams. For my observation, I randomly selected 10 healthy leaves and collected the leaf dimensions.
The average spinach leaf from a supermarket package was found to measure 63.5 millimeters (2.5 inches) long and 43.7 millimeters (1.70 inches) wide.
From the 350 grams of spinach I weighed, only 100 grams account for the leaves. The rest of the weight comes from the stem.
From this plate of spinach leaves, I randomly selected 10 leaves and measured their length and width using a ruler. The data I gathered is displayed in the table below.
|Spinach Leaf||Length (mm)||Width (mm)|
The collected spinach leaf dimensions tells us that:
- The average length of spinach leaves is 63.5 mm.
- The average width of spinach leaves is 43.7 mm.
- 80% of spinach from the grocery can be classified as mature
- Only 20% of spinach leaves from the grocery can be classified as young
- Spinach leaves can grow as long as 86 mm.
Curious about how long carrots are?
The spinach leaves can be classified as young and mature based on its length. This is very useful in cooking. Young spinach leaves are ideal for salads because they are bite-sized, whereas mature spinach leaves are ideal for sandwiches, dips, and sautéed recipes.
Spinach plants can develop up to 30 cm in height. Leaves vary in size from 2–30 cm (1–12 in) long to 1–15 cm (0.4–5.9 in) broad, with bigger leaves at the plant’s base and smaller leaves higher on the flowering stem.
Displayed below are the 10 measured leaves. As a comparison, I placed a bar at the side equivalent to 100 mm or approximately 4 inches.
Smaller leaves are more tender and sweeter in taste compared to mature spinach. Leaves a, b, c, f and g in the illustration above are considered young leaves.
Interestingly, young spinach contains a lot of antioxidants in addition to vitamins and minerals. It provides nutrients such as lutein, zeaxanthin, nitrates, and quercetin, all of which are beneficial to your overall wellness.
Because we don’t want to waste those nutritional values through intense heating, young spinach is better suited for fresh salads.
Bigger leaves that are less tender and have a little bitter taste are best for cooking. These are thicker and can be used in many recipes. To eliminate the bitterness, it is suggested to blanch the spinach leaves first.
When eating spinach, you may experience a dry, powdery feeling on your teeth and the roof of your mouth.
Leaves labeled with d, e, h, i, and j from the illustration above are considered matured based on their length.
Spinach leaves grow alternately in their stems with an ovate to triangular shape.
The observed spinach leaf size and shape tells us that:
- If you are planning to make a spinach salad, choose the smaller spinach leaves.
- Mature leaves are more versatile when it comes to recipes.
- The leaf shape of spinach can be used to design platings.
The American Heart Association suggests a 1 cup serving size for spinach, which weighs around 28 grams.
If you are interested in the weight of other vegetables, head to our article on potatoes.
Nutritional Value of Raw Spinach
In a cup of spinach, you can get the following nutrient value.
- Water: 91%
- Calories: 8 kcal
- Carbs: 1.2 grams
- Sugar: 0.13 grams
- Protein: 0.96 grams
- Fiber: 0.73 grams
- Fat: 0.13 grams
Fun Fact: Spinach is an annual plant. This means they are available year-round! Thus, you can plant them in your backyard and harvest them every six weeks.
Learn more about the germination time of vegetables in our article seeds germination.
What to look for when buying spinach?
When choosing spinach from a grocery store, one must look for dark green leaves and light green stems. These are indicators that the spinach is fresh. Their stems should also feel filled, tender and juicy. Most importantly, there should be minimal damage in the leaves.
What to avoid when buying spinach?
Do not purchase spinach leaves that are yellow-greenish in color. Softening and wilting must also be avoided since they are signs of decay. Also avoid spinach with black spots. Discover more about this in our article 4 reasons of black spots in vegetables.
How to wash spinach before cooking them?
First, place the spinach leaves in a large bowl and pour lukewarm water. Gently stir the leaves with your hands and then lift the leaves out. This will allow the sands and other particles to settle. Wash the spinach leaves again with clean water. Repeat these steps until the spinach is clean and there are no impurities observed on the bottom of the bowl.
How much spinach should you eat in a day?
A cup of raw spinach can provide you with the nutrients and meet the daily nutrient requirements such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
How can I prolong the shelf-life of spinach?
Spinach can be placed in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator’s vegetable crisper to last for 3 to 4 days. For bunched spinach, they should be placed inside plastic bags. Meanwhile, prepackaged spinach must be kept in its packaging when storing in the refrigerator.
Spinach is one of the most nutrient-packed vegetables available in the market. Young spinach leaves are about 40 mm long, while mature spinach leaves are about 60 mm long. The young spinach leaves are fit for salads, while mature leaves are more versatile as they can be used in most recipes.
One cup of spinach, which weighs about 28 grams, is the recommended serving size. This can already provide nutrients and meet daily vitamin and mineral requirements.
- “A Fresh Look at Spinach” by Tangren, A. in Fine Cooking
- “Fruits and Vegetables Serving Sizes” by N/A in American Heart Association
- “Health Benefits of Baby Spinach” by Cassoobhoy,A. in Web MD
- “Spinach” by Center of Nutrition, Diet, and Health in University of the District of Columbia
- “Spinach 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits” by GUnnars, K. in Healthline