Kale is a beautiful nutrient dense superfood which is a part of the cabbage family. Kale is a good source of antioxidants, iron, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin K, calcium, vitamin C and potassium. This nutrient dense plant is said to fight cancer, protects the eyes, detoxifies the body, prevents bone loss, fights inflammation and supports cardio vascular health. As with any vegetables, the smooth and crispy kale leaves can go bad very quickly. It all depends on its shelf life when purchased and the way it is stored. Having a surplus of kale may lead you to wonder what to do with the extra kale without leaving it to spoil and/or throwing it out. So it would be best to know how to store or how to freeze kale so that its shelf life can be extended. Though, kale is best consumed when fresh, the nutritional value is still the same, whether frozen or not.
If you keep kale in your refrigerator it may be good for a few days (typically 3-7 days approximately). This has also been stated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. When kale does go bad, the leaves will change color. From a beautiful dark green color to being a pale green yellowish color. The leaves will also become really soft and gooey and will often have an unpleasant odor. However, when kale is properly frozen, it can be good for 8-10 months. You may use frozen kale in smoothies, soups or sauté it. Frozen kale may not be ideal to use in salads as once defrost the texture of the kale softens and is somewhat mushy. There are two simple approaches on how to freeze kale to use in smoothies. You may freeze kale leaves or freeze kale puree. The steps for each method are detailed below.
Freeze Kale Leaves – Method #1
Step 1: Remove Bad Leaves and Thick Stems
Start off by separating kale leaves. Remove defective leaves which have spots and/or leaves which have turned yellow. Get rid of the thick stems from the good leaves you’ve chosen to freeze. The thick stems which I am referring to, are not the stems which are on or below the kale leaves but the stems which are in the center of the kale leaves. To remove thick stems, place kale leaves flat down on cutting board, with the thick stems facing upwards or fold kale leaves vertically. Then use a sharp knife and closely cut around the thick stems to remove it. You may however, leave the thick stems intact, if you like.
Step 2: Wash and Dry Kale
Take the kale leaves which you’ve prepared from step 1 and wash thoroughly. Singly wash leaves and ensure that you wash them well as there may be dirt on leaves. Thoroughly dry kale leaves as moisture may cause kale to spoil at a faster rate. Lay out washed kale leaves on cutting board or on a clean flat area. You may let leaves air dry or use paper towels or a kitchen towel to dry leaves. You may use the towel to blot the leaves surface to remove moisture. Or you may dry leaves by placing them on or inside towels so as to soak up the moisture. Ensure that the leaves are completely dry before moving on to the next step.
Step 3: Chop Kale
Once kale leaves are completely dry, it’s time to cut leaves in smaller pieces. Place kale on cutting board and start chopping. Chop kale to desired size or whatever way you like. The chopping process is preferred but optional. If you’re tight on time or you just don’t feel like chopping kale, you may leave as is. By chopping kale leaves it provides you with more freezer bag or container space. Instead of having to use 2 freezer bags or containers to store kale, you may be able to use only 1 freezer bag or container instead by doing this.
Step 4: Package Kale for Storage
You’ll now move dried chopped kale leaves into airtight freezer bag/s or airtight container/s. Put kale leaves into chosen storage package. Do not try to tightly pack leaves into freezer bag/s or container but pack loosely. Storing kale in airtight freezer bags or containers will help to extend its shelf life. Ensure that you squeeze out as much air as possible, if using freezer bags. Air is also a factor which will determines the shelf life of kale. If the air is not expelled properly it may cause kale leaves to get freezer burn. Many individuals use a vacuum food bag sealer to suck all the air out while others may manually use a straw to suck out the air. If you decide to use a straw, firstly, insert the straw to one end of the freezer bag/s. Seal freezer bag/s up to the point where the straw is, suck the air from the bag/s. While slowly and gently moving your hands from the bottom of the freezer bag/s towards the opening with the straw, to ensure that all the air gets out. Once, all the air is sucked out, remove the straw and quickly seal bag/s.
Step 5: Label and Place in Freezer
You may use a pen or maker to label bag/s or containers with the word kale as well as the date in which it was prepared for freezing. Labelling the freezer bag/s or container/s with the word kale is optional. You may label the freezer bag/s or container/s with the word kale if you have other vegetables in your freezer in freezer bags or container. Labelling the freezer bag/s or container/s with the date of freezing is essential, so that you can be informed or at least have an idea in the future if kale is still good for consumption. After labelling, you should immediately place the freezer bag/s or container/s with kale leaves into the freezer.
The frozen kale leaves method is perfect for smoothies, soups or you may sauté it.
Freeze Kale Puree – Method #2
Step 1: Remove Bad Leaves and Tough Stems
Go through kale leaves and get rid of all leaves which have spots or yellow leaves. Remove the tough stems from the center of the leaves you’ve chosen to freeze. The stems which are on or below the kale leaves are tender and soft and should not be removed during this process. To remove tough stems, place kale leaves flat down on a clean area, with the tough stems facing upwards or you may fold kale leaves vertically. Use a sharp knife and cut around the tough stems to remove it. However, if desired, you may leave the tough stems as is.
Step 2: Wash and Chop Kale
Wash the prepared kale leaves thoroughly. Singly wash leaves to ensure that all the dirt, especially hidden dirt, are removed from leaves. After which, place kale on cutting board and cut leaves in smaller preferred size. Chopping the kale is optional. But is suited if you’ll not be using a powerful blender. Doing so will ensure that the kale leaves are processed faster by the blender.
Step 3: Blend Chopped Kale
Firstly, pour water into your blender. Use sufficient water that will be able to consistently blend the quantity of kale you’ve prepared. Add kale to blender and blend. If the puree is too watery, add more kale or if too thick, add more water. Blend again. You may repeat process until the mixture reaches desired consistency.
Step 4: Pour Puree into Container and Freeze
Once the puree consistency is just the way you want, pour the mixture into a container. You may choose to put the mixture in ice cube trays, freezer containers or muffin tins. Immediately place the container with the puree in freezer and let it freeze for no more than 4 hours. Keeping puree in the container for over such time makes it incline for freezer burn.
Step 5: Place Frozen Puree into Airtight Package, Label and Freeze
Once puree is frozen remove from freezer. You don’t have to wait for the 4 hours (as mentioned in step 4) to remove frozen puree. Placed frozen puree in freezer airtight bag/s or place in airtight container/s. If frozen puree is not placed in an airtight package then it may be prone to freezer burn. Make sure that you squeeze out as much air as possible, if using freezer bags. You can ensure that freezer bag/s are properly sealed without air by using a vacuum food bag sealer or you may manually use a straw to suck out the air from freezer bag/s. If using a straw. Place straw to one side of freezer bag, seal freezer bag up to the point where straw is placed. Suck the air from the freezer bag. Once all the air is removed, remove straw and quickly seal the freezer bag. Using a marker, label the airtight package with the word kale (optional) and the freezing date. You may label the airtight package with kale if you do have other airtight packages in freezer.
The frozen kale puree method is perfect for smoothies and soups.
If kale is not properly stored, it can be spoiled within a matter of days. By nature kale has a bitter taste, and when spoiled, is even more biter in taste. Consuming spoiled kale or any other spoiled food is not good for your health. So do take the time to safely store or freeze kale. When kale is properly stored, its shelf life can be extended and you may end up saving money. When buying kale, try to purchase enough kale to serve you for at most a week, as vegetables are best when consumed fresh. Don’t get carried away and over purchase kale or any other vegetables, with short shelf lives. Do check the “best before” date on the package. Doing so, will help you to know how long it will take before the kale goes bad. So you’ll know when to apply the methods above to store kale. Share your thoughts, ideas or experience in the comment field below on freezing vegetables.