How to Drain Spinach (4 simple ways)

In this brief article, we will be discussing how to drain spinach. A nutritious appetizer and side dish, as well as a delicious addition to many recipes, cooked spinach needs to be drained well before mixing it with other ingredients. Otherwise, its high water content will make everything gooey and mushy.

Squeezing water from frozen, thawed, or chopped spinach can become a tedious task, especially if you don’t have the right tools.

So read on and find out what you need to drain spinach the right way.

How to Drain Spinach?

Here’s what you need to do before draining spinach: cook some freshly chopped spinach as per your recipe’s instructions. Let the cooked spinach cool to room temperature.

Now, you can use a few things to drain the spinach.

Cheesecloth

  1. Spread out a square of cheesecloth. Fold it in half once or twice to create layers.  
  2. Place the cooked and cooled spinach in the center of the cheesecloth and collect all the cloth together to make a pouch. 
  3. Suspend the pouch over the sink and squeeze the bottom gently to drain the spinach’s water. 

Paper Towel

  1. Place small bunches of cooked and cooled spinach on a paper towel.
  2. Press down gently to drain the spinach from its water. 
  3. Replace the towels as necessary. 

Colander

  1. Place the cooked and cooled spinach in a colander.
  2. Suspend the colander over the sink and gently press down with a paper towel or the back of a spoon. This will drain the water from the bottom and the paper towel will also absorb water from the top. 

Metal Steaming Basket

  1. Place the cooked and cooled spinach in a round metal steaming basket.
  2. Close the sides of the basket and squeeze. This method is easier than using a strainer and also makes less of a mess than cheesecloth or paper towels.

How Do You Drain Frozen Spinach?

Draining frozen spinach requires a few additional preparatory steps:

  1. Take out the frozen spinach from the freezer and transfer it to a microwave-safe container.
  2. Microwave for about one to two minutes, or till the spinach turns mushy and soft. Allow cooling at room temperature.
  3. Then use any of the four methods mentioned above (cheesecloth, paper towel, colander, steaming basket) to drain the spinach as instructed. 

What Nutrients Does Spinach Contain?

Spinach is a nutrient-dense green vegetable that is rich in vitamins A, C, and K, as well as iron, potassium, folate, and fiber. 

According to the US Department of Agriculture, Aa single cup (30 grams) of raw and cooked spinach contains:

              30 g raw                                                           30 g cooked

  • 7 calories 7 calories
  • 0.86 grams of protein 0.9 g
  • 30 milligrams of calcium 73 mg
  • 0.81 grams of iron 2 mg
  • 24 milligrams of magnesium 7 mg
  • 167 milligrams of potassium 250 mg
  • 2,813 international units (IU) of Vitamin A 283 IU
  • 58 micrograms of folate 79 mc
  • 28 milligrams of vitamin C 5 mg

Does Draining Spinach Make it Lose its Nutrients?

To some extent, you can minimize this loss of vitamin C and water-soluble nutrients by collecting the drained water in a bowl.

Refrigerate the water and use it later in soups or pasta sauce.

Is Raw Spinach Better or Cooked Spinach?

Your body will absorb more iron and calcium if spinach is eaten cooked. This is because spinach is rich in oxalic acid which inhibits the absorption of these nutrients, but it is denatured at higher temperatures (cooking or blanching).

The ingestion of 4–5 g of oxalate is the minimum dose capable of causing death in an adult. Oxalic acid ingestion results in corrosion of the mouth and gastrointestinal tract, gastric hemorrhage, renal failure and haematuria. Other associated problems include low plasma calcium, which may cause convulsions, and high plasma oxalates. Most fatalities from oxalate poisoning are apparently due to the removal of calcium ions from the serum by precipitation. High levels of oxalate may interfere with carbohydrate metabolism, particularly by succinic dehydrogenase inhibition (3).

 However, cooking methods have huge impacts on the vitamin C content of vegetables due to the vitamin’s instability during cooking (1).

How Can You Cook Spinach without Losing Nutrients?

Boil a pot of water and dip the spinach in it for about one minute. Remove the blanched spinach and instantly transfer it to a pot of cool water. 

This is the most effective method to cook spinach: it is perfectly cooked, free of harmful bacteria, and retains its nutrients and vitamins. Such quick-cooking methods are recommended for all nutrient-dense vegetables, including sauteing and stir-frying. 

But remember: blanching time is extremely important and depends strictly on the vegetable and its size. Under-blanching can activate certain enzymes, as well as proteins that induce changes in texture, color, flavor, and nutrients. Also, it is worse than not blanching.

However, boiling vegetables in water is the cooking method in which more vitamins and minerals are lost. The best cooking method to preserve vitamins and minerals is steaming, followed by microwaving. A study analyzed the effect of different cooking  on the vitamin C content of spinach. The percentage loss of vitamin C in steamed spinach, microwave spinach, and boiled spinach was 11.1, 25.5, and 50.5 per cent, respectively, compared to the vitamin C content of raw spinach. Boiling seriously destroyed the vitamin C content. This is due to vitamin C’s instability at high temperatures and its water-soluble nature which causes it to be leached into cooking water, which is generally discarded after cooking (1).

Another study compared the effect of spinach preparation procedures on magnesium loss. In leafy vegetables, magnesium is bound to chlorophyll. Chlorophyll degradation as a result of thawing and chopping was of about 35%, while boiling or steaming of chopped fresh spinach lead only to small additional chlorophyll degradation (2).

Other FAQs about Spinach that you may be interested in.

How much spinach should I eat a day?

 How to Drain Spinach

Can you eat baby spinach raw?

Conclusion

In this brief article, we answered the question of how to drain spinach. This leafy green tops the charts as being amongst the healthiest vegetables out there because of its amazing nutritional profile. And now that you know how to drain and use it correctly, you can enjoy its benefits to the fullest.

If you have any more questions or comments please let us know.

References:

  1.  Zeng, Chuli. Effects of different cooking methods on the vitamin C content of selected vegetables. Nutr Food Sci, 2013.
  2. Bohn, T., et al. Chlorophyll‐bound magnesium in commonly consumed vegetables and fruits: relevance to magnesium nutrition. J food sci, 2004, 69, S347-S350.
  3. Bsc, Sc Noonan, and Gp Savage Bsc. Oxalate content of foods and its effect on humans. Asia Pacif j clin nutr, 1999, 8, 64-74.

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.