How Long Hardy Greens Like Kale & Spinach Will Last In The Freezer

We've all had it happen: You go to open your bag of kale or clamshell of spinach and find wilted, slimy leaves. When you buy fresh hardy greens, you are pressing "start" on a countdown that only lasts a few days before you are out of luck. Fortunately, there's another way.

When you are in the mood for a salad, only fresh greens will do. The good news is there are plenty of strategies for extending the life of your new greens. But if you're looking to add some healthy green leaves to a casserole, pasta dish, or even a smoothie, freezing your greens can significantly widen their window of use.

If you just stick your greens in the freezer without processing, you're going to experience a significant decrease in quality. But when you process your fresh greens properly, you can keep them in your freezer for up to eight months or so. Here's how to create the longest-lasting, high-quality frozen greens without losing taste or texture.

Before freezing your hardy greens, be sure to blanch them

If you want your hardy greens — spinach, kale, mustard greens, beet greens, and more — to last a long time, you should process the leaves soon after you get them. First, wash the greens and pick out any that already look wilted or slimy. Bring a pot of water to a boil and dunk your washed greens. But don't walk away; you only want to blanch the greens for 40 seconds to one minute. You'll know they're done when the stalks no longer appear rigid. The benefit of blanching your greens is that it helps to clean them (by targeting dirt and grime), and it also puts a stop to enzyme activity that can make your greens less flavorful and less appetizing. By blanching, you're extending the life of your greens.

Transfer your greens to an ice bath to stop the process of cooking. Make sure they're completely cool. Next, it's best to spread the greens out and pat away excess moisture with a clean kitchen towel or dry paper towel. To get leaves that pull apart easily in small sections, spread the blanched greens on a baking sheet or other flat surface and freeze that way for a preliminary period of three to four hours. Once done, you can transfer the greens to a freezer bag or other container. Be sure to label the container with the date so you remember how old they are.

Freeze your greens for up to eight months

Fresh hardy greens like spinach and kale only last up to one or two weeks. But by freezing them, you won't have to rush to use them. For the best quality, though, try to use your greens within the first eight months. 

Now that you have a supply of frozen greens, you have a myriad of options for what to use them in. Leafy greens are a healthy addition to almost every meal, and pulling a handful of greens from your freezer bag might end up being your new go-to strategy for eating well. Give them a little rinse in a colander to shake off any ice, and then add them to smoothies, soups, baked dishes, stir-fries, and more. For inspiration, try making a creamy spinach dip or a kale lasagna. Even though these greens will last much longer in the freezer, you will likely use them up long before then once you realize how easy it is to incorporate them into meals.