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Aug 25, 2014 10:47 AM

What happened to spinach in recent years?

I like spinach, and used to buy and prepare it often. It was the dark green, curly, non-baby kind, which stood up well to being cooked and kept its "body" reasonably well (technically called savoy spinach), and usually came either loose or in celo bags. Lately, I can never find that type of spinach fresh in any store -- all I ever find is "baby" spinach, which is fine for serving raw as for example in salads but turns to a loose slime if cooked more than a few seconds.

Where did curly spinach go?

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  1. I don't think I've ever seen 'curly' spinach but I see this all the time:

    It's generally on the opposite side of the produce dept. from the bagged things. Over with kale and other greens.

    5 Replies
    1. re: c oliver

      I used to buy the type the OP is describing. It's different from the picture you linked. The stem and central vein were tough and fibrous, and definitely needed to be removed. I suspect doing that is too much trouble for *some* customers, incentivizing farmers to grow more of the baby kind. Also, spinach salad became fairly popular, and the latter is tender when raw. I haven't noticed curly spinach in supermarkets in a long time. But what miffs me more is that it's now rare to find entire broccoli including the stalks, in supermarkets. They sell the florets/heads only. I assume the packers make the stalks into slaw but I liked peeling and steaming them. To me, the tastiest part of the broccoli.

      1. re: greygarious

        +1 on broccoli stems. My local market still generally has both, so that problem hasn't struck here as yet. BTW, an alternative when you see it is kohlrabi -- the kohlrabi bulb, while of course shaped differently, is otherwise essentially the same as the broccoli stem, both from the botanical and culinary standpoints.

        1. re: johnb

          I do like kohlrabi but it is pricey here. Best of all is the "marrow" from the stalk of Brussels sprouts. The stalk itself is very woody. I use a cleaver to hack it crosswise into pieces that will fit a pot, then steam it. At that point it's possible to split it lengthwise and scrape out the creamy, light-green "marrow". What little yield there is is nutty and rich.

          1. re: greygarious

            Wow! You're willing to do serious work to get at the good stuff. I haven't tried that, but will the next chance I get.

        2. re: greygarious

          I looked at the picture again and that's really not what I was talking about. I also was referring to the ones where you need to remove the vein.

          Our groceries sell both types of broccoli. You pay more for the florets.

      2. I agree, Savoy spinach is great, but if the market demands baby, baby will be produced. You might have better luck at a more specialty store or asking around at a farmers market. Otherwise, I agree with C Oliver, if a store has Savoy, it might be more likely to live with the bunch spinach or loose salad greens than with the bagged greens.

        ETA: Also look for Bloomsdale spinach, curly and flavorful, I think that is what I have had and loved, not sure if it is a different variety from Savoy or just another name.

        1. Kale, spinach is the first casualty in Kale's plan for world domination.

          9 Replies
          1. re: JTPhilly

            So, only the baby spinach has been spared?

              1. re: 512window

                They can squeeze in more "baby" harvests rather than wait for the plants to mature >> mo' harvests = mo' money.

                1. re: ferret

                  anybody who's ever tried to gnaw their way through a salad made with mature kale will immediately be able to tell you why baby kale for salads is a good idea.

                  If you want to know what it's like, cut a waterproof tarp into bite-sized pieces and toss with dressing.

                  Equally as inedible as mature kale.

                    1. re: MGZ

                      I like the flavor of kale -- but the plasticky bits of kale ruined an otherwise really tasty salad.

              2. re: JTPhilly

                A recent story on Fox News asserted that Big Kale is being funded secretly by George Soros and gets lucrative, secret tax breaks put in place by the Obama Administration. What's more, Senator Harry Reid's office has called a press conference for Thursday morning at which he will release documents detailing the vertically integrated system that Koch Industries has in place to grow, transport, market, advertise, and sell kale.

                This conspiracy is deep and wide, my friends. Spinach must have really pissed somebody off. I'm pretty sure Hollywood is in on it. I mean, think about it - when's the last time you saw a Popeye cartoon?

                As to the OP - That's a very good observation. With the exception of at a local Farmer's Market, I almost never see "real" spinach anymore. I, too, miss the stuff.

                1. re: JTPhilly

                  ha ! Just like King Cran is seeking to dominate the world juice market.

                2. Check with your Farmers Market or CSA. Here in the Bay Area we have T & D Willey Farms that still grows and sells Bloomsdale Spinach super dark green and wrinkly.
                  As "Babette feasts" said start asking for it. If the Market demands it it will be supplied.

                  1. I've wondered the same thing. It almost had a 'bubbly' texture (literally knobby, not effervescent). I loved it for cooking and salads because it held its shape. I almost never make spinach salad anymore because the dressing just glues the leaves together and they lie in the bottom of the salad bowl in a pathetic, flat heap. And try to make a spinach salad with hot bacon grease dressing with the baby stuff. You end up with greasy, cooked spinach. Bah.