Greens are excellent sources of vitamin A, calcium, folic acid and fiber. Preserve spinach, collards, kale and other spring greens by freezing, pressure canning or dehydrating them.

Freezing greens

Though greens may be canned for long-term storage, freezing provides a better product. Select young, tender green leaves. Wash leaves thoroughly and cut off woody stems. Water blanch collard greens for 3 minutes and all other greens for 2 minutes. Cool promptly, drain and package, leaving ½ inch of headspace. Seal and freeze in amounts typically used in a favorite recipe (e.g., 2 cups).

Pressure canning spinach and other greens

Can only freshly harvested greens. Discard wilted, discolored, diseased or insect-damaged leaves. Leaves should be tender and attractive in color. Roughly 28 pounds of greens makes a canner load of 7 quarts; approximately 18 pounds makes about 9 pints.

Prepare only according to hot pack procedure: Wash greens in small amounts. Drain water, and continue rinsing until water is clear and free of grit. Cut out tough stems and midribs. Place 1 pound of greens at a time in a cheesecloth bag or blancher basket, and steam 3 to 5 minutes or until they’re well wilted. Add ½ teaspoon of salt to each quart jar, if desired. Fill jars loosely with greens and add fresh boiling water, leaving an inch of headspace. Place lids on the jars, and process them according to directions from the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Dehydrating greens

Use only young, tender leaves. Wash and trim them thoroughly. Steam or water blanch the greens.

  • To steam blanch, use a deep pot with a close-fitting lid and a wire basket, colander or sieve placed so that steam will circulate freely around the greens. Add water to the pot and bring it to a rolling boil. Loosely place the greens in the basket or colander, which should be no more than 2 inches deep. Place the basket of greens in the pot. Make sure the water does not come into contact with the greens. Cover and steam for 2–2½ minutes.
  • To water blanch, fill a large pot two-thirds full of water, cover it and bring the water to a rolling boil. Place greens in a wire basket or colander, and submerge them in the water. Cover the pot, bring the water back to a boil and blanch for 1½ minutes.

After blanching, dip the greens briefly in cold water just long enough to stop them from cooking. Do not cool to room temperature. When greens feel only slightly hot to the touch, they’ll be at about 120 degrees F. Drain greens by pouring them directly onto a drying tray held over a sink. Wipe excess water from beneath the tray, and arrange the greens in a single layer. Place tray immediately in a dehydrator or oven. Dry for 8 to 10 hours. Watch greens closely at the end of the drying period so that they do not scorch. The end product should be brittle.

Go to MU Extension's Food Preservation program for more home food preservation tips.

Source: Andress, Elizabeth, and Judy Harrison, eds. 2014. So easy to preserve, 6th ed. Athens, Ga.: University of Georgia Cooperative Extension.