Here’s all you need to know about the spoilage of spinach. Learn how to check its quality and when you should toss it.
So your half-open bag of spinach has been refrigerated for over a week now, and you need to know if you can still use it. How to tell if spinach is bad?
Let’s talk about the spoilage signs of spinach, then.
How to Tell if Spinach Is Bad?
Your spinach is bad if it’s completely wilted, slimy, or the leaves are discolored. You can sort out bad leaves and use the rest, of course. But if the whole bag gives off that slimy, yucky aroma, the leaves are no good.
You should also toss any cooked spinach that’s refrigerated for more than four days.
That’s spinach spoilage 101.
Next up, let’s discuss each one in more detail.
Wilted or Slimy Leaves
Spinach, like any other veggie, gradually loses water, which drives quality loss and the overall shelf life.
That moisture loss makes the leaves wilt and, if stored long enough, go slimy. Of course, you can use somewhat wilted leaves, but if they become soggy, they’re no good.
Here’s what spinach going slimy might look like:
That leaf is better off in the compost pile, but if yours is only slightly darkened and not soggy, feel free to use it. Or toss it, if you’re not comfortable using it.
Obviously, a couple of slimy spinach leaves in a bag are quite normal and nothing to worry about. You sort them out and use the rest.
But if things get to a point where half of the bag’s contents are slimy leaves, I suggest you toss the whole thing.
Spotty or Discolored Leaves
Sometimes spinach leaves have brown, black, yellow, or other discolored spots that aren’t a result of water loss. And you should toss any leaves with these sorts of changes.
Of course, some of them will probably be okay to eat, but often those discolorations are a sign of a disease (e.g., downy mildew), and eating those isn’t particularly safe.
Long story short: toss spotty spinach leaves without giving them a second thought.
If your spinach bag has taken on an unpleasant smell, there definitely are some spoiled leaves inside.
Now, it’s up to you to decide if some leaves are still salvageable or if you should toss the whole thing.
If you see some wilted or soggy leaves, it’s okay to sort them out and use the rest. But if there’s any mold growth or the whole bag really stinks, toss that spinach.
It’s not that common to find mold in a spinach bag, but if yours is stored long enough and any mold spores get inside, it’s definitely possible. And if you notice any fuzzy action, toss the whole bag.
For cooked spinach, mold is much more likely. So give whatever leftovers you got a good look before reheating them, and if you notice any signs of mold, discard everything.
Cooked and Stored for More Than 4 Days
Cooked spinach lasts only 3 to 4 days in the fridge. After that, eating is no longer safe, even if it looks and smells perfectly fine. So if things get this far, you should toss those leftovers.
If you’ve got some cooked spinach leftovers and can’t use them anytime soon, the easiest solution is to freeze them. Divide the leftovers into portion-sized parts, transfer them to separate freezer bags or containers, and freeze.
This way, you extend the storage time for months and don’t have to worry about using the leftovers just yet.
Can you eat wilted spinach?
You can eat somewhat wilted spinach, but toss it if it’s starting to get slimy or soggy.
Furthermore, prioritize using it in a cooked dish instead of a salad. Cooking it will, at the very least, destroy any microbes that might’ve been growing on the surface.
And it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. If you just want to use it up so that the spinach doesn’t go slimy and bad, go for something simple like garlicky spinach. A couple of kitchen staples and a few minutes is all it takes to prep a simple side dish and be done with the spinach.
Tips for Longer Storage
First off, postpone washing spinach until you’re ready to use it. And wash only as much as you’re going to use.
Washing it after buying isn’t recommended because it’s difficult to dry it thoroughly without any equipment. And if that spinach has some water drops here and there, it’ll wilt and go soggy even faster.
Second, if your spinach tends to wilt and go slimy fast, like within a couple of days of buying, make sure the bag has some ventilation, and maybe place a couple of paper towels inside.
Those paper towels will help absorb any extra moisture, which should help with retaining quality for longer.
Finally, if your spinach goes bad way more often than you’d like, and you can’t be bothered dealing with that, consider switching to frozen spinach. It doesn’t work in salads, that’s for sure, but it’s okay for most other uses, and you never have to worry about it spoiling.
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