I will admit kale is not my favorite veggie, yet I know it is good for me. It is very easy to grow, very frost tolerant, and therefor a great staple crop for my garden here in Wasilla, Alaska. Kale has become the new zucchini with bountiful yields and the quandary of what to to with all that kale? I am not a big kale smoothie drinker and blending veggies with sugary fruit juice is not my style.
Baby kale is still fairly tender and is great for adding with other fresh greens for salads, but older kale will develop thick, woody ribs and stalks and the leaves take on a leathery texture that is not pleasant to eat raw. Removing the ribs and stalks will help, but the leathery leaves are better if you cook them. Wilted kale is pretty good, but the texture will improve by first braising the trimmed kale covered in a small amount of broth, stock, or wine for 15 minutes then removing the lid and letting the liquid reduce and finish with crumbled bacon and balsamic vinegar and a pat of butter.
I enjoy processing my garden veggies and berries in season and put them away for use all year long. Processing kale can be a challenge. Canning or blanching and freezing my fresh produce are two methods I use. One method I found for using my prolific kale crop is to trim and cook it covered in a seasoned stock and then puree it in my blender. I then freeze the puree in plastic sandwich containers and once frozen I will pop them out and seal in vacuum bags for long term freezer storage.
This pureed kale takes on the flavor of your stock and is great as a soup base for cream of kale or kale cheddar soup. I add this pureed kale to many of my other hearty soup recipes. I make split pea soup with carrots in a chicken stock and add pureed kale and some bacon crumbles. This will warm you up on any frigid Alaska winter day. Adding split peas, lentils, or leftover chicken to a basic vegetable soup along with pureed kale from my deep freezer is my go-to winter dinner. I will make a large pot of hearty soup on Sunday and freeze meal portions for using all week long. Add a salmon burger, wrap, or salad and you have a sit-down dinner.
What about kale chips? I have tried packaged kale chips and they are a good snack choice, but they just seem too fragile. Not good out of a bag and I was not impressed with the wasteful expensive protective packaging some producers use. Homemade kale chips are a better choice, but I like a chip that can stand up to salsa or dips and kale just does not work. I am going to try making baked kale crackers using pureed kale with almond flour plus egg and olive oil. Rolled very thin, pricked with a fork and baked. If anybody has tried this before, please share your results in the comments section below.
So do you grow kale? Share your experience and what you do with your harvest. Share your frost and winter harvest stories too. Is kale the new Zucchini?