Do You Have To Drain Canned Spinach?

Canned spinach is a handy ingredient to keep in your pantry. It can amplify the flavor and nutritional value of any number of casseroles, pasta recipes, and other cooked dishes like a creamy spinach dip or spinach frittata. While canned spinach isn't as healthy as fresh, as it's stewed with sodium to help keep it shelf stable, it's a good source of vitamin A, which is great for skin health and infections, and vitamin K, which is good for tissue and bone formation as well as proper hormone function. So maybe Popeye was onto something.

But don't down it straight from the can like the cartooned sailor. Even if a recipe doesn't specifically ask you to, there are a few benefits to draining and drying your spinach before using it. By having a colander and a clean towel on hand, you can greatly improve the quality of your canned spinach.

Benefits of draining canned spinach

Draining your spinach is often a good idea because 1) it can help get rid of some of that excess sodium, and 2) it can improve its texture. The water that canned spinach soaks up from the brine can make it unappetizing. And depending on what dish you're including it in, watery spinach will turn a dip or pasta mushy or runny, and will either ruin its texture or leave you cooking off that extra liquid. 

The simple way to avoid this is to drain, rinse, and dry your canned spinach. Open the can and empty it into a colander in the sink. As the water drains, help it along by running a light stream of water from the faucet over the spinach. After all of the briny water from the can is rinsed off, use a clean kitchen towel or fresh paper towels to pat the spinach dry. Once you have absorbed as much of the water as possible, it's ready to be creamed or add some color to this Spinach, Ricotta and Mascarpone Tortelloni dish.