© Denzil Green
Though a member of the cabbage family, Kale is a “loose leaf” cabbage. Its leaves don’t curl inwards, they sprout upwards and outwards. Its close cousin, Cavolo Nero (aka Palm Cabbage), also grows like this.
There are many varieties of Kale; the leaf colour will vary by variety. The leaves may be curly or flat, greyish-green, bluish, yellowish, reddish-green or purpley-red. Most popular varieties tend to have curly, grey-green leaves.
Kale grows best in cool weather. In fact, a nip of frost before harvesting sweetens the leaves. If left in the ground to over-winter, it will live through the winter, and flower in its second season. But that’s that — it’s biennial plant, and after that, it dies.
Kale’s flavour is very “robust”, as the euphemism goes. In fact, Kale has been used for centuries as animal feed.
The leaves are too tough to eat raw; they must be cooked for human consumption. The stems are too tough to eat in any fashion. That being said, new varieties are being bred that are less and less tough and bitter.
Cavolo Nero is a variety of Kale.
Choose crisp leaves with deep colour with no yellowing or bug holes.
© Denzil Green
Very small, young Kale leaves can be eaten raw. Otherwise, Kale should be cooked, steamed, braised, boiled or microwave-steamed.
Wash Kale well because sand and dirt get caught up in the leaves. You’ll probably have to rinse twice, in fact. Chop, then discard stems as they are too tough to cook up.
If boiling, cook in boiling water for 5 to 7 minutes, keeping the lid off the pot to reduce the odour (sic). Drain, then reheat in a pan with a good heaping tablespoon of butter.
Pressure cooker: 2 minutes on high.
Goes well with onion, garlic and cheese.
Kale and Collards are a good combo for cooked greens.
Some consider Kale the most nutritious vegetable in the world, with just about everything going for it.
1 pound fresh Kale (450g) = 6 cups raw leaves, torn = 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups cooked
1 medium bunch fresh, frizzy Kale = 155g (5 1/2 oz) = 8 cups chopped
Store in fridge either in plastic bag or wrapped in damp paper towels for up to 3 days. Past that, it starts to get a much stronger taste.
Freezing: Wash, remove stems. Blanch (not steaming) for 2 minutes. Plunge in cold water, drain, package, and freeze.
You can also freeze cooked Kale.
Kale is a very ancient member of the cabbage family, possibly native to the Eastern Mediterranean. The Greeks and Romans grew Kale, though they didn’t distinguish between Kale and Collards; that is a modern distinction.
It was probably during the Roman Empire that it arrived in France and Britain.
Kale was in America by 1669.
Kaulion (Greek) > Caulis (Roman) > Cole (Anglo-Saxon) > Kale (Scots)