Grown in sandy/mineral soil - Long Standing Bloomsdale, Tyee, Cold Resistant Savoy, Olympia and Melody; in muck soil - Wobli, Tarantella, Mazurka, Norveto, Estivato, Symphony and Melody.
Some are smooth leaf types (e.g. Olympia), medium leafed (e.g. Melody) and frilly "Savoy" leafed spinach (e.g. Long Standing Bloomsdale).
An excellent source of both Vitamin A and folacin, and a source of fibre, potassium and Vitamin C.
Spinach originally came from Persia (now Iran) where it was known as "aspanakh."
By the 1300s, it had spread to Europe and Britain where it was popular in religious communities, particularly during Lent.
It was being cultivated in North America by the early part of the 19th century. In recent times, it has been popularized by the cartoon character "Popeye," who attributes his amazing strength to a daily diet of the green leafy vegetable.
Buying and storing
Shop for vivid, dark green spinach with firm leaves and stems. Avoid those with excessively thick, tough or woody stem ends.
Smooth-leaf spinach is most often sold in bunches. Medium and Savoy varieties are more likely to be found loose or washed and partly stemmed in plastic packages.
It's relatively perishable and should be wrapped and stored in the refrigerator. It's best eaten as soon as possible after buying.
Preparing and cooking
Soak in a basin of cold water to remove sand and grit. Change water several times or until the bottom of the basin is free of residue. Dry on clean towel, bag and refrigerate. Use within several days.
Spinach suffers greatly from overcooking. Cook gently, over low to moderate heat.
It matches up well with butter, cream, yogurt, eggs, cheeses, olive oil, and with soy and tamari sauces. It also goes well with salty meats such as bacon or prosciutto and salty fish such as anchovies.
To enhance its flavor, add nutmeg, mace, fresh garlic, coarsely ground black pepper or, in moderation, fresh lemon juice.
It's also delicious eaten raw in mixed salads or in a classic spinach salad with sliced mushrooms, finely diced crisp bacon and a light mustard vinaigrette.