Harvesting kale from the garden in large quantities may leave you wondering what to do with all of it. The solution is to freeze some of it to enjoy at a later date, but if you love the fresh crisp taste of freshly harvest kale it is best to use it right away. Freezing kale can change the fresh leafy green flavor it has into a bitter one if it is frozen for more than six weeks. Frozen kale is only best for adding nourishment to soups, casserole dishes, chowders, stews and pasta dishes. This is because kale tends to soften due to the leafy greens retaining more moisture.

Kale

Image used under Creative Commons from Jennifer

The Proper Method for Freezing Kale

Kale freshly harvested from the garden needs a good washing. After, you can place it into freezer bags and freeze it whole or chop it up as you would spinach and freeze it that way. It is important to keep in mind when freezing kale this way that the leaves and stems do tend to decay still even during the freezing process. This means the kale needs to be used up within a few weeks or it will develop a bitter flavor and unpleasing mushy texture.

If you want to preserve kale for a longer period such as six months it is best to wash the kale, blanch the leafy greens, rinse them with cool water, towel dry the moisture from them and store them away in freezer bags inside your freezer. Blanching stops the decaying process and helps retain the flavor and leafy green color of the vegetable, but it does not retain the crisp fresh leafy green texture that kale tends to have right after harvesting.

To defrost the kale you simply take the freezer bag full of it and place it into a bowl of cool water to defrost for about an hour. After, chop up and use the kale for whatever dish you desire to place it into to add flavor and nourishment. Just keep in mind that frozen kale does not taste good in leafy green salads. If you want kale for leafy green salads, it is always best to eat it fresh.

Freezing stems separately from the leaves

Another common way gardener’s freeze kale is by freezing the stems separately from the leaves. This means, after washing and drying your kale to remove debris from it you would pull the leaves away from the stems and put the leaves into one freezer bag and take the stems, chop them up and toss them into another freezer bag. After, you would toss the bags into the freezer and preserve the leafy greens and stems this way for up to three months. The stems of kale are excellent for adding flavor to soups and the leafy green parts can act as spinach filler to ravioli, manicotti, lasagna and cheesy stuff shell dishes.

What is the best way to preserve and eat kale?

The freezing method is a great way to preserve freshly harvested summer kale you wish to use in cooking dishes. However, again if you are looking to use kale to make kale chips or leafy green salads it is best to harvest it, pick it up from the grocery store or from a farmer’s market and use it up right away as it is.

If you are trying to preserve the fresh crisp leafy green flavor of kale for a day or two you can rinse it down with cool water, pat it dry with paper towel, place dry paper towel into a large gallon bag and place the kale into the bag with some slits cut into it for air. Then, place the kale into your vegetable crisper and it should stay fresh for a few days this way until you are ready to use it up.

If you are luckily enough to find fresh kale with long stems you can preserve the fresh crisp flavor of this leafy green by simply placing the stems into a bowl of cool water with the leafy ends sticking out. This will keep the leafy greens well hydrated and crisp with that lovely leafy green kale flavor all kale lovers enjoy in salads and even green smoothies.