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Can you Eat Spinach Stems? (Are They Poisonous?)

When it comes to eating your greens, there are few more popular than spinach. It is used in a variety of cuisines all across the world and can be eaten both raw and cooked.

Can you Eat Spinach Stems

However, there seems to be a difference in opinion of what to do about the stems. Do you eat them, or throw them away? Do they taste great, or taste awful? Are they poisonous? 

These questions can make a lot of people think twice about eating spinach, opting for a vegetable that causes less controversy.

However, we have done the research and have found the answers to your spinach-related questions.

So, read on to find out everything you need to know about this delectable vegetable and check to see if it’s worth buying the next time you’re getting your groceries.  

What Is Spinach?

Spinach is a popular leafy green vegetable that originates from western and central Asia. It belongs to the Chenopodioideae subfamily, which is part of the wider Amaranthaceae family.

Spinach is a bright green color when young, but this color gets more and more intense as it grows older.

It has a distinct, bitter flavor which makes it a polarizing vegetable – either totally loved or grievously hated.

Sometimes the leaves lie flat, but they can also appear a little disheveled. 

Are Spinach Stems Poisonous? 

In short, no. Spinach stems are not poisonous. Spinach does not contain any harmful chemicals which makes them safe to eat. 

Can You Eat Spinach Stems? 

Spinach leaves are the focal point of the plant when it comes to eating.

The stems can be eaten, too, but a lot of the time are difficult to eat because they can be very stringy and fibrous. This only gets worse after cooking. 

Generally though, the younger the spinach the more flexible the stems are, so there is no need to remove them and they can be eaten as part of your meal.

When the spinach matures, the stems grow thick and fibrous, which can make them harder than the leaves. If this is the case, it is better to avoid eating the stems.

How To Remove Spinach Stems

If choosing to remove the spinach stems, it is best done before washing the rest of the spinach.

are spinach stems poisonous

Use your fingers to hold the spinach leaves at their base. Then, fold the spinach leaves in half.

This should be done lengthwise on the opposite side to the side with the stem. From there, pull up on the leaf (the whole length) and the stem should be removed easily. 

What Should You Do With Unused Spinach Stems?

You don’t always need to throw the spinach stems away. They can be added to a vegetable stock which can add a delicious flavor to a variety of dishes. 

Additionally, even if the spinach stems are good to eat, you can still separate them from the leaf, and use them by themselves as part of a meal. Here are a few examples. 

Sauteed Butter Spinach Stems 

 A delicious example of this is buttered spinach stems with added salt and pepper. Sautee the spinach stems with butter, salt, pepper, and water (two tablespoons).

Once the water begins to evaporate, turn the heat up to medium-high and continue to cook the stems until they turn soft, but take care not to cook them until they’re mushy!

Once finished, these sauteed butter spinach stems make for a tasty side dish or snack. 

Fried Spinach With Rice 

This one is quick and easy! Simply fry the spinach stems in oil and then steam with onion and garlic.

Serve with rice and a side of yogurt. You won’t be disappointed! 

Boiled Spinach Stems In Homemade Sauce

Add the spinach stems and salt to the water and boil for around four to five minutes.

In a separate dish, add olive oil, garlic, a little vinegar, and your choice of spices to make a delectable sauce.

What Should You Do With Unused Spinach Stems

Drain the stems, add your homemade sauce, and voila! Another tasty spinach side dish or snack. 

In general, young and mild spinach leaves can be eaten raw. These work beautifully in a salad.

Please remember it is important to always wash your vegetables before you eat them.

However, many popular dishes make use of cooked spinach. Spinach is used in a variety of stir-fries!

It also works well with dairy and is used in combination with dairy in many popular dishes, such as spinach and paneer curry, and spinach and ricotta ravioli. 

Additionally, spinach is a key ingredient in Eggs Florentine, which is the same as Eggs Benedict except the spinach replaces the meat. 

Finally, spinach is used in a lot of meat and seafood dishes.

Grilled spinach and spicy creole shrimp salad is a great example of this, as well as Stir-fried Chinese rice cakes with spinach, tomatoes, and pork belly. 

How To Cook Spinach

Some recipes will require different methods of cooking, but this is a popular way of cooking spinach. 

Before cooking, wash the spinach in a colander with cold water, to remove any dirt and then shake it to remove the excess water.

Alternatively, you can dry the washed spinach with a paper towel by patting it lightly. After removing the stems (or not!) heat a large pan on high heat.

Add the spinach and stir. The spinach will start to wilt, and any water should begin to evaporate.

Once the spinach has begun to wilt, remove it from the heat to prevent it from turning mushy. Keep stirring for one to two minutes, or until the spinach has wilted. 

Final Thoughts 

Spinach is a popular vegetable used in many cuisines all around the world. Despite this, not many people know what to do with the stems.

Luckily, spinach stems are not poisonous and can be enjoyed as much as the leaf.

You can opt to eat them with the leaf in many of the popular spinach dishes, or you can cut them off and cook by themselves.

However, the older the spinach gets, the thicker and more fibrous the stems become, which makes them unpleasant to eat.

In this case, you should gently remove them and dispose of them or use them in vegetable stock. 

Jess Smith