Wasilla Alaska Garden Adventures

Wasilla Alaska Garden Adventures - learning about gardening up north.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

What Do You Do With Kale ?

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?


  1. I've always used it mostly in stir-fry with Soy Sauce or with Bragg's Aminos. My girlfriend turned me on to it years ago, she would be the one collecting it after a wedding where it was used as "green display". I've started using kale like seaweed in Asian dishes, like Miso Mushroom soup that calls for dried Wakame seaweed. I'm going to get brave and make Sushi (California Rolls) this summer using kale because it's kept to the inside and if it cracks-up that okay. My neighbor who is from Korea told me that it's getting harder to find seaweed that is not grown in polluted waters, just makes sense to use garden grown greens. It's good to make into "green tea" and used as a hair rinse, fed to houseplants and other garden plants as well the remains as compost. I never feel bad about not eating it all because I have a huge worm population that loves the stuff! - Sheri Cline Zone 8b San Juan Islands, Washington State.

  2. I use kale in soups, instead of turnip greens, spinach etc. Cut off the stalk and just put into the soup, and I find that it doesn't go mushy or disintegrate like anything else. But if the intention is to put it into a soup pot, you can freeze whole kale leaf. As long as it's not wilted or offcolored to start with, you don't even need to cut off the stalk either tho it can be chewy. It stays green while frozen, and green in the pot.