Spinach can be gritty, particularly when bought with roots still attached (the default in many farmers' markets and street markets). The spinach I buy at Surrey Street Market here in London often even has visible chunks of earth on the roots. If you don't take care to clean your spinach properly, your final dish may well be ruined.
The method described here does take a little while (though much of this is waiting time), and will tie up your kitchen sink, but is the simplest and most effective way I've found to clean bunches of spinach.
- First of all, if there's anything on the spinach that you'd not want to wash down your sink, such as enormous lumps of soil with pebbles in, take it off and throw it in the bin. (Unless you got the spinach directly from your garden, though, this will probably already have been done, if only because the larger bits of dirt will have fallen off in transit.)
- Separate the bunches from each other and wash them under the tap, removing any obvious clumps of dirt. Now rinse out the bottom of the sink because it'll be quite gritty.
- Fill the sink with cold water and let the spinach soak in it for a while.
- Make sure to lift the spinach up out of the water after its soaking, since if you just drain the water away and pick the bunches out of the bottom of the sink then all the soil particles that fell to the bottom of the water will get all over the spinach again.
- Empty the sink and rinse the spinach under the tap again, just briefly.
- Now strip off the leaves from the stalks and discard any bad bits. You can give these leaves another soaking if you want to be absolutely sure, or you can just put them in a colander and give them one final rinse under the tap.
(The spinach sold in bags at supermarkets has usually already been fairly thoroughly washed; even if the bag does say to wash before use, a quick rinse in a colander under the tap is probably sufficient.)
- Maylith sent me a useful comment that has now been incorporated into the body of this article.