2003 Spinach Picking and Processing
The summer of 2003 marked the beginning of the human nutrition component of our grant project. This study involves comparing lutein carotenoid delivery from spinach and a supplement form. Our objective is to assess the bioavailability of this carotenoid as measured in blood serum and macular pigment optical density response. In simple terms, human volunteers will either consume spinach or lutein supplements over several months and have their blood drawn and eyes measured for pigment density.
Because our plant research has shown that cultivar choice and growing conditions greatly influence carotenoid accumulation in spinach and kale, we realized we needed to grow the spinach used in this feeding study. Data generated over several years in NH shows that 'Spinner' spinach accumulates approximately 12 mg of lutein per 100 grams fresh tissue and 'Springer' spinach acculates roughly 8 mg of lutein per 100 grams fresh tissue.
The spinach was grown according to University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension recommendations. Upon harvest, the spinach leaves were washed, chopped, and lightly pan cooked to liberate the carotenoids from the plant cell membranes. After cooking, the spinach was drained, cooled, and frozen in vacuum-sealed bags.
In order to make the spinach more appealing, it was decided to give the volunteer participants several choice of spinach dishes for dietary delivery. Please check out our page describing how we cooked the spinach and incorporated into creamed spinach, curried lentil soup, stuffed shells, enchiladas, and roasted red pepper dishes.
Yes, they tasted as good as they sound!
(left) It was a foggy early morning that day ...
(right) Catherine cleaning the spinach back in the kitchen.
(left) 'Springer' and 'Spinner' cultivars were harvested for the trial.
(right) Joe vs. the Spinach.
(left) Mark harvesting 'Spinner' (he's not really standing still).
(right) Dave washing the spinach back at the Thompson School teaching kitchen.
(left) The spinach was chopped into small, bit-size pieces,
(right) then lightly pan cooked before freezing.
(left) Adam is a psychology major trying to look happy washing spinach.
(I think this was after 6 hours of washing).
(right) Can't you just smell that spinach!
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