So, you’ve planted your strawberry spinach, you’ve grown it to maturity – and now what? If you’re looking to find out how to harvest strawberry spinach, we’ve got you covered!
We’ve got all the growing and harvesting tips you need – from when to harvest, what to harvest, and how to harvest this fascinating plant.
How To Harvest Strawberry Spinach
Luckily for us, most plants let us know when they are ripe and ready for harvesting, and strawberry spinach is no exception.
You can harvest the leaves at any time – picking them when they are young and fresh is always a good idea, as you would with spinach.
Do remember that it is not advised that you eat large quantities of these leaves raw, as they contain saponins and oxalates that can cause irritation.
Harvesting the berries is also fairly self-explanatory – wait until the berries have a good, deep colour.
Harvesting the berries before they are ripe will give you a fairly uninteresting, insipid flavour – not what you want for your interesting plant growing journey!
You will need to wait until the growing season is well underway before you harvest the leaves; picking them too early can cause growth to become stunted.
However, you don’t want to leave it too long or the leaves can get hard and woody, and need a lot more cooking time.
The berries will be ready to harvest right at the end of the growing season – they are actually the result of the plant bolting.
This one can self seed, so if you don’t want it popping up everywhere the following year then you must harvest it thoroughly.
This short video shows you how to harvest the new leaves of strawberry spinach:
What Is Strawberry Spinach Called?
Although strawberry spinach is a very good name – I mean, it actually is what it says on the tin – there are other names for this intriguing plant.
Chenopodium capitatum or Blitum capitatum are the known Latin names for this plant, and although these are not as descriptive, there they are!
Strawberry Blite, Blite Goosefoot, Strawberry Goosefoot and Strawbini are other more common names for this plant.
It is also, because of its uses as a paint or dye, known as Indian Paint or Indian Ink. This name comes from the fact that Native Americans used to used it as a colouring agent.
We would not recommend using these last two names, as they are actually pretty offensive these days!
Can You Eat Strawberry Spinach Raw?
Most plants can be eaten raw, though many are better when cooked – strawberry spinach is one of these.
You can of course nibble on the berries without cooking them – they do not have much of a flavour, but are fine to munch on without cooking.
The berries can be cooked – you can use them as you would a normal strawberry – but they are just as good without any kind of processing.
It is advised to not eat large quantities of the leaves raw, however. This is because they contain compounds which can irritate the mouth, throat and stomach.
Munching on a few young leaves raw won’t do you any harm, but it is generally better to cook the leaves of your strawberry spinach.
You can use these in any recipe that asks for spinach, or you can add them to stir fries and warm salads for an added bit of interest.
How Long Does It Take To Harvest Strawberry Spinach?
Well, this depends on if you are planning to harvest everything all at once, or if you are happy to take a few leaves and berries here and there!
Generally speaking, you can start to pinch off a few young leaves between 40 and 60 days after planting your strawberry spinach.
If you want to keep the plant growing well and wait for those fascinating “strawberries”, then do not harvest your spinach too heavily in the early days.
The leaves will continue to form, even if you graze on them throughout the season, but the berries are gone once they’re gone.
This plant is an annual, meaning that you can harvest it the same year that you plant it, but it will not spring back the next year.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Strawberry Spinach?
This fascinating plant is actually pretty good for the body, as well as being interesting and fun to grow.
The berries, like most, are high in vitamin C, which is a great all round immune booster for the whole system.
You will also find fibre, which is good for the digestive system, and an important part of staying, ahem, regular!
Vitamin A is also present, which is good for eye health and helping all the organs to function as they should.
Lutein is also found in the leaves; this is a carotenoid which can help with inflammatory conditions.
Like most green leafy plants, iron is also contained in these pretty leaves – this is good for the blood and helping to transport vital nutrients through the bloodstream.
Calcium, which is one of the most important building blocks for achieving strong healthy bones and teeth, is found in this plant.
Vitamin E, magnesium and B vitamins are also to be found in this plant, making it a bit of a nutritional powerhouse!
The only thing to be aware of is the oxalic acid contained in the leaves – anyone with an oxalate sensitivity should speak to their doctor before munching on this plant.
Here is a really interesting article focusing on the benefits of antioxidant food on general health (ok, it features rats, but still!)
Strawberry spinach is a fantastic plant to grow – it’s edible and tasty, good for you – plus it is just so fascinating!
Once you’ve got the hang of growing it and harvesting it, chances are you will want to turn over your whole veggie patch to growing this great plant.