What it is overwintered spinach and what to do with it

by autumn on March 24, 2014

Overwintered Spinach: What it is & what to make with it now // Autumn Makes & Does

I like to think of very early spring, which I’ll tentatively say is what we’re in now, as saag paneer season. Every year around this time, I buy a couple of the big bags of spinach that are popping up at the market right now in the northeast, and make this saag paneer recipe from 101 cookbooks. The big-leafed spinach that shows up at the greenmarket beginning in mid to late March here in New York has been overwintered, meaning it was planted in the fall and tucked in for winter using some sort of insulation such as straw mulch, another type of cover, and/or by planting in a cold frame. This long winter nap means that the spinach emerges early in the spring especially sweet and is prized by chefs and home cooks.

Overwintered Spinach: What it is & what to make with it now // Autumn Makes & Does

I love overwintered spinach because it’s one of the first green things to come back in the market, way before asparagus and #ramps. This is around the time when our bodies are craving green stuff like whoa, so it’s nice to know that mother nature has our backs on this one. Because overwintered spinach has to be tough enough to soldier through a long winter, it’s not the best suited for salads like the baby spinach that’s available later in the season, IMHO. However, it’s dreamy just wilted or lightly sauteed. One other tip I’ll offer related to preparing overwintered spinach is that it can tend to be a bit sandy. You won’t want to just give it a rinse in a colander. Fill up your sink or a large pot with water and give it a good bath. Change the water and do the whole thing again.

Overwintered Spinach: What it is & what to make with it now // Autumn Makes & Does

Here’s some inspiration on how to cook overwintered spinach. Be sure to leave your own ideas in the comments!

How do you like to cook up spinach?


Autumn Giles is the creator of Autumn Makes & Does and the co-host of the Alphabet Soup Podcast.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Courtney March 24, 2014 at 11:49 am

How nifty! I’ve never seen (or even heard of) overwintered spinach before, but it sounds so cool. I’m totally craving green stuff and am so ready for all the spring and summer produce to come out.


2 autumn March 26, 2014 at 10:02 am

Thanks, Courtney! Glad someone else is sharing in my spinach enthusiasm 🙂


3 Nicole March 24, 2014 at 1:51 pm

A good dose of greens is what I’m craving, too. I wonder if I could find overwintered spinach in Michigan because I’d love to try this. Thanks for sharing!


4 autumn March 26, 2014 at 10:01 am

I would imagine so. I’d that bet if you see spinach early in the spring, before asparagus early, it has been over wintered. Thanks, Nicole!


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