Kale is an incredibly easy vegetable to grow, it’s very nutritious, and produces tons of kale leaves on each plant. In this post, I’ll teach you how to preserve kale.
I absolutely love growing Kale, and grow it from seed every year. It is very easy to grow, and hardy and can withstand freezes and heat.
Often, in Virginia, our kale will over-Winter beautifully and sprout again the following Spring with TONS of sweet, nutritious leaves.
We usually eat it daily (or at least until the kids beg me for no more kale), give loads away, but we always end up with lots more!
Unfortunately, my chickens won’t eat it unless I hand-feed it to them…spoiled things.
Luckily, this Massaged Kale Salad is delicious enough to stand apart as it’s own proper meal.
How to Grow Kale
I absolutely love kale as an early-year, cold-hardy plant. It takes cold, dreary conditions and neglect very well. The only issue I’ve ever had growing kale is as the days warm up, and the bugs come out, the outer leaves get a bit bug-eaten.
There’s an old story of a farmer whose cabbages keep getting eaten by rabbits. The townspeople go to the old farmer and ask him what he’s going to do about the rabbits. Is he going to shoot them? Lay out poison? Erect a fence?
The farmer shakes his head, smiling, and says, “I’ll just plant a few more rows.” To the farmer, this was the easiest, and most harmonious solution. The rabbit’s need to eat too.
That’s my outlook on kale. It doesn’t take a whole lot of effort from me to grow, and a few sacrificial outer leaves for the bugs mean they leave the internal, young leaves alone. The bugs need to eat too.
Not only is kale very cold tolerant, depending on your summers, it can survive the heat AND the cold and grow for you year-round. You need to go out and harvest a few leaves every few days, but isn’t that the point?
For a deeper look on how to grow kale, check out my post.
Nutritional Benefits of Kale
Kale is also incredibly nutritious for you. I think touting it as a “super food” was a little extreme, but if you’re looking for a natural source of Vitamin A, C or K, you can’t do much better.
One cup of kale has 10302 IU (or 206% of your daily allowance) of Vitamin A, 80.4 mg (or 134% of your daily allowance of Vitamin C, and 547 mcg (or 684%!!!!) of your Vitamin K.
Vitamin A is essential for eyesight and eye-health as well as bone development and immune support. (A word of caution about Vitamin A, however: taking too much can be toxic. Be careful eating a lot of Kale if you already take a supplement with a lot of Vitamin A).
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, and helps to repair body tissue such as muscles and bone. It also decreases your total and bad cholesterol and triglycerides.
Vitamin K supports blood clotting, supports bone health and aids in preventing heart disease. It works in conjunction with Vitamin D, which means if you don’t get enough Vitamin K, your body can’t absorb the Vitamin D you’re in-taking.
The catch with eating kale for Vitamin K, though, is that Vitamin K is fat-soluble, so you need to eat some fat along with your kale for your body to absorb the Vitamin K. So throw some chicken or olive oil on that kale salad.
All three of these (Vitamins A, C and K) are know to help prevent cancer. All with one cup of kale a day. *mind.blown*
I prefer growing red Russian kale as it doesn’t seem as bitter or waxy to me as some of the other varietals.
There are several ways you can preserves it if you find yourself the new owner of pile of fresh kale:
How to Preserve Kale
The easiest, and my preferred method is to freeze it in freezer bags.
After harvesting your kale, pull it off the center stem and wash and dry thoroughly. If it is left wet, the water will cause freezer burn on your kale. Once dry, simply shove handfuls in freezer bags and throw in the freezer!
This method works for using kale for smoothies, soups, or sauteed, but the texture changes too much to replace “fresh” kale.
2. preserving kale by Hang-Drying
Another method available is to harvest kale in bunches and hang it in a cool, dry room. This is not a method I can employ as we spend most of the summer with our windows open and Virginia summers are notoriously humid.
If you only want to use your kale for smoothies, dehydrating it is an excellent option. Using a dehydrator or your oven at a low setting, wash and lay out the kale in a single layer. Once it’s dried crisp, pulverize it with a mortar and pestle. This allows you to store a huge amount of kale in a very small space.