We sit at the dinner table and wonder, why does spinach taste sweeter in the winter?
Our winter salads are more delicious than salads harvested during the spring, summer, or fall. Is it simply because fresh, green things are so precious this time of year? No, this firm, deep green spinach tastes distinctly sweet. So, after many delicious salads and accompanying conjectures, I have googled our question and found several explanations: 1. During the process of photosynthesis the plant produces glucose, or sugar. In the cold weather: "The cool decreases the rate of respiration," says Brent McCown, a professor of horticulture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This means the plant slows down the burning off energy, therefore using up less sugar. As a consequence, there's a little more sweet left in the plant. (Touring the White House Garden, www.npr.org/storyId=121611755, 2009) White House Chef Kas explains it as, "Sugar doesn't freeze, so spinach produces extra sugars in the winter to protect itself from frost." (whitehouse.gov/blog/2009/12/16/winter-garden)
2. The leaves get darker and the flavor more concentrated because the plants convert their starches into sugars to lower their freezing temperature in order to survive the cold.