Spinach is usually classified into three basic types: crinkly savoy spinach, smooth-leaf spinach, and semi-savoy spinach.
Other, more unusual spinaches can be found at specialty grocers and in some farmers’ markets. Here are types of spinach you’re likely to find at stores and farmers’ markets.
- Baby spoon spinach: Rich-green, baby spoon spinach is a savoy type spinach, but—as its name suggests—is smaller in size than regular savoy. Crispy and coarse, it is sweeter than the larger variety. The tender small stems are edible, too.
- Red spinach: Growing in popularity, striking red spinach leaves are round, thick, and rich-green with an attractive red center. Tender and very tasty, the flavor of this lovely variety is deliciously sweet and succulent.
- Savoy spinach: With crinkly, curly leaves and a dark green color, savoy spinach leaves are springy and crisp.
- Semi-savoy spinach: The slightly crinkled leaves of semi-savoy offer some of the crisp texture of savoy but are not as difficult to clean. It is cultivated for both the fresh market and for processing.
- Smooth- or flat-leaf spinach: With broad, flat, spade-shaped leaves, smooth-leafed spinach varieties are easier to clean than savoy or even semi-savoy types. These qualities make it the choice of commercial producers of canned and frozen spinach. But flat-leaf spinach is sold fresh as well.
How to choose the best spinach
Fresh spinach is sold loose, in bunches, and in bags that usually hold about 10 ounces. Loose spinach is easiest to evaluate for quality, since you can fully examine every leaf individually.
Select small spinach leaves with good green color and a crisp, springy texture. Reject wilted, crushed, or bruised leaves, and those with yellow spots or insect damage.
Look for stems that are fairly thin—coarse, thick ones indicate overgrown spinach, which may be leathery and bitter. Fresh spinach should smell sweet, never sour or musty.
If only bagged spinach is available where you shop, check for yellowed leaves and squeeze the bag to see whether the contents seem resilient.
How to store spinach at home
Don’t wash spinach before storing it. If it’s washed, spinach will begin to wilt and decay after a day or so. Instead, leave packaged spinach in its cellophane bag, or wrap loose spinach in paper towels. Place the wrapped spinach in a large plastic bag, and store in the refrigerator crisper. Fresh spinach will keep for three to four days.