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After I buy a bunch of spinach (which has many strands of spinach) like this, I have to check each single strand of spinach (see the picture below, is it correct to say a strand of spinach?) to remove its hard stem and just keep its soft stem and leaves.

is this a strand of spinach?

is this a strand of spinach?

Is it correct to say "I have to pick the spinach before cooking them" to mean I remove the hard stems and keep the soft ones with their leaves?

2 Answers 2

  1. Because spinach is a mass noun, not a count noun, the object pronoun is it, not them.

  2. I would call those "little bunches" of spinach. A strand would have to be linear. For example, if you cut off one of the long stems and boiled it until it became limp, that would be a strand.

  3. That action is not "picking". Picking means harvesting from the field. The clearest way to describe what you're doing is "removing the stems". If you desperately want one word, you could say cutting or chopping (with a loss of clarity) or destemming (with a loss of naturalness), but there's no reason to prefer one word.

I have to remove the stems before cooking the spinach.

  • 1
    You could also just use stemming (without de-), which is natural enough to me. Not sure I’d generally apply it to spinach, but then I’m not sure I’ve ever talked about the ‘stems’ of spinach before, though I guess that is what they are… Sep 2, 2023 at 17:48
  • 1
    Also: I need to prep the spinach before boiling/cooking it
    – Mari-Lou A
    Sep 3, 2023 at 10:04

The Dictionary.app speaks of grass as a "strand":

strand2 | strand |
a single thin length of something such as thread, fiber, or wire, especially as twisted together with others: a strand of cotton | strands of grass.


So the word "strand" in this context should be understood, although monocots like grass have parallel venation and "stems" or "stalks" may be more fitting for a dicot like spinach.

Because "spinach" is used as a non-countable noun, the pronoun "it" should apply to it, and not "them."

"Picking" is what one does in the field, not in the kitchen. In the kitchen, "trimming", "stemming", or even "cutting" would be more applicable.

  • This seems to be mainly my answer but disagreeing about "strand" :p But the definition you cite shows that it can't refer to the little bunch of spinach shown. A strand of grass is indeed a linear "single thin length", but spinach is not. Sep 3, 2023 at 14:25

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