Spring has well and truly sprung and I have been busy doing things all over the place in the garden. One of the things that has been taking up my time is dealing with the kale. The kale from last season did splendidly well. The problem is, it’s a new season now and the kale has been getting in the way of my great plans. It had to come out. But I wasn’t about to let all those beautiful, nutritious leaves go to waste. I must admit, we haven’t been particularly good kale users this year. I think The Husband forgets that it’s there and we both don’t know what to do with it sometimes. Dinner time is always busy. The young leaves are good as a salad green but the mature leaves get a little leathery and have to be chopped up to cook in things. How could we make better use of the kale on a frequent basis and how could I make use of the great mass of kale that needed to come out, like, now?

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The kale, part-way through harvesting.
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I was rejoicing about my finished harvest when I realised I hadn’t done the curly kale, hiding behind this giant wad of a parsley plant. ‘Squire’ is the prettiest of the three cultivars I had this time, but it is the most annoying to wash and use, and more attractive to bugs, who hide in the creases, so I’m not overly keen to have it again.

In the August issue of the New Zealand Gardener magazine (because I’m a month behind due to lack of reading time…) I was pleased to find a suggestion from a reader. Freeze the kale leaves, then whizz them into wee pieces, then freeze it in ice cube trays. These frozen cubes of grand nutrition can then be put into stir fries, curries, soups, pasta dishes or anything else that tickles your fancy. Genius! So, it’s not a one-step process, but you don’t have to do it all at once; you can do what I’ve been doing: harvesting, washing and freezing kale one load at a time, in preparation for a big whizzing session some time later. Here’s my process:

  • Pick a trug-load of kale.
  • Wash the leaves.
  • Remove the central midrib (stem) from each leaf and put leaves in a plastic bag (or other freezing vessel). Break up the larger bits of leaf.
  • Freeze.
  • Whizz frozen leaves in food processor.
  • Put into ice cube trays, packing down firmly, or put a thin layer into ziplock freezer bags, then freeze. Once frozen, ice cubes can be transferred to freezer bags or containers.

I am pleased to announce that I have now harvested ALL the kale. I did the whole process for one trug-load of kale before stashing up the rest. There are six bags of kale in the freezer awaiting a big whizzing session, plus a large bag of young kale leaves in the fridge for salad greens. For many, many salads and sandwiches. It’s fair to say I’m a bit sick of the sight of kale. I’m not sick of the taste at all, but who wants to spend precious gardening (or blogging) time standing at the sink washing, ripping and bagging load after load of kale? I have learnt something. I will do this process more often during the growing season instead of leaving a massive load until the precious days of spring. Plus, when we get the Permanent Vege Bed built I plan to have kale in there, since it is so long-lasting. The good news is that now the kale has been dug out of the garden to make way for carrots, spring onions and other new crops. I just have to sow a new batch of kale seeds now. Ooh, look, there’s another garden task over there that needs me…

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4 thoughts on “The Great Kale Harvest

  1. Great idea for the kale 😊 I’m storing that idea up for next kale onslaught. I’ve only really done kale chips and haven’t ventured further down the kale culinary path. When we bought the farm everything in the old veggie garden had just about died or been stacked by pests – everything except the kale. That stuff is hardy! I’ve got cubes of frozen spinach I use in the way you mentioned, adding to casseroles, etc. it’s really handy. I also tend to throw a few cubes in to boiled rice/other grains in the last couple of minutes of cooking and give it a good stir. When you drain the rice etc. you get flecks of spinach throughout the grains for a bit of an extra nutritional hit – plus it looks pretty and our kids like it (score!) 😊

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    1. I love your rice idea! What a great way to sneak in some good green stuff. We eat rice quite a lot so I will have to remember to put some kale in next time. I’d like to do this process for spinach too, although I don’t imagine you need to freeze the leaves before whizzing since they are softer than kale?
      When we moved in here kale was one of the few veges surviving in the garden too! Definitely a tough nut. 😉

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      1. Funny that you had surviving kale in your garden too! Must be the trending home-warming gift from previous owners to new owners 😛

        I don’t pre-freeze the spinach leaves as they’re not tough like kale. To keep the green colour I blanch the leaves first (boiling water very briefly, ice bath, drain, dry), chop finely (I use a knife but you could probably use a food processor to make life easier) and squeeze out moisture before stuffing them tightly into icecube trays and freezing (then pop out and keep in a ziplock bag in the freezer). Oh, when you drain your rice and spinach just make sure you put a fine sieve over your colander or you’ll lose a lot of the spinach down the drain – learnt that the hard way, lol!

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