Kale 101: How to Harvest and Why Bother

Kale is crazy popular these days. But have you really ever tasted it?

Wow, it’s very, um kale-ish, harsh-ish, feels like your chewing on a farmers fresh cut field-ish.

I had a kale salad at a restaurant a few months back thinking I was being “good”. It wasn’t awesome and I still regret ordering it.

I don’t make lovely summer salads with gobs of kale.

Kale chips are icky even if you can buy them at Costco. When you have to spit something out because it’s too fiberific to swallow it loses its appeal really fast.

You won't find us tearing pieces of kale in the garden when we need a snack.

Quick and dirty, this is how and why I use kale.

Snap, chop (I remove the thick stem/vein but you don’t have to), bag and freeze.

I have ABANDONED using fresh kale in smoothies because I can ADD MORE if it has been previously frozen. Frozen kale has a more mild flavor than fresh kale.

Being able to add 2 handfuls to a blender outweighs being able to add ¼ leaf of fresh kale and hope the youngin’s don’t hurl.

My goal is to try to get as much goodness in their glass of love each night. Frozen kale is much better math than the fresh approach.

In addition, because it grows in my back yard it's a cinch to pick.I am able to pack the freezer full which leaves (hahaha) me with a little more moola in my pocket at the end of the day. It’s possible to cram 2 pound chopped in your 1 gallon bag.

Doesn’t freezing destroy the nutritional quality of kale? The short answer is maybe a little.

The longer answer must consider several different aspects of the produce.

How far has it travelled from the farm and how long has it been sitting on a grocery store shelf or in your fridge?

If you grew it in your garden picked, chopped and froze it within hours it will have MORE good stuff (phytochemicals) left in it.

  • The phytochemical content in a plant can vary even among the plant, leaf or stem.
  • It varies depending on where it was grown and what variety was used.
  • It varies so much it’s hard to measure yet we know it does contain powerful goodness regardless of the isolated compound some scientist might be studying.

All of these variables lead me back to why we started blending in the first place. Picky kids not getting enough good stuff on a daily basis.

Once the love of produce was consistently consumed the level of sickness decreased dramatically. Not super scientific but real and measurable in how much we paid toward our deductible, how many days of school they missed and how dramatically stomach aches and constipation disappeared from our lives. Measure that Journal of Nutritional Frozen Produce.

Other ways to use the power of kale:

  • Add a handful to  your bowl of soup - chicken noodle, tomato, udon, potato cheese even gasp - the 13 cent devil himself - ramen noodles. If your team is anything like mine, it will only be in your bowl. My team would rather die than find kale lurking in something they have to chew (dinner) rather than swallow (fruit and veggie smoothie).
  • It’s also delicious with leftover Asian food I layer it on top of the rice, add the goopy leftovers and nuke it until its warm.

I have planted 6 Italian black kale starts this season and this is what the process looks like and the size of leaf I pick.

My dad has curly leaf kale and some of these photos are of his plants too. The bigger the leaf the harsher the flavor. I feel bad using these words about my friend kale but its true.

I love the medium sized leaves.

 The plant will also continue to grow more leaves so you can harvest once or twice a week depending on how your season is going.

If kale is so abrasive in flavor why do we use it? Why go through the trouble of adding it to smoothies especially when one is heavy fisted and the whole blend becomes powerfully gaggy?

  1. It grows like a weed = easy to grow a piles in a very small space
  2. It grows up out of the soil so it isn’t covered in dirt like spinach = less time to clean
  3. Harvesting is a breeze = snap at the base, chop, bag and freeze
  4. It is frost tolerant which makes it easy to continue to harvest long after the rest of the garden has bit the dust  in the fall
  5. If you leave the stalks in the ground in the fall, in the spring kale will grow from them
  6. Spring kale is super mild which makes it easier to get away with more.
  7. Super food status = it is one of the highest ORAC values of any fruit or veggie on the planet
  8. Fiber. Fiber helps prevent stomach aches and excessive camping on the potty.

And with that my friends, I hope you dare to add kale to your fruit and veggie smoothies, grow it in your yard or container on a patio and learn to see past it's harshness in order to get it's powerful love into your bodies cells.

Happy Blending!


PS - follow the link to enter to win my very first giveway! http://gvwy.io/xs53bh3