Kale Conundrum?

by Ken Greene

I love kale.

Kale with his pack of kale seeds. (Freeman photo by Tania Barricklo) Kale with his pack of kale seeds. (Freeman photo by Tania Barricklo)

I love it so much that I named my dog after it. It's turned out to be his favorite snack as well. I'm not making that up! I actually trained him not to chase our chickens by tempting him with "kale bones". That's what we call the woody stem part of the leaf, but to Kale (the dog) those are crunchy kale bones.

Kale (the leafy green) is easy to grow, produces for a long season, is ornamental, edible, and incredibly nutritious, but I'm hearing from gardeners that it often winds up rotting in the garden or wilting in the fridge. Why? Because of people's kale conundrums. What to do with all that leafy goodness?

First off, harvest leaves by picking them from the outside in. Always leave new growth in the center of the plant. You can pick the leaves at any size. In general, the younger leaves are more tender and the stems get tougher as they age.

015Here are some of the many ways' we eat kale. Please add you favorite way to eat, prepare, or store kale. Thanks!

If you're like Kale (the dog) you'll eat it raw. Raw baby kale leaves are great in a salad mix. I didn't used to like the larger fronds raw until Sarah Snow (who designed the shape of our seed packs and is in the midst of doing the layouts for next year's Art Packs) made me a kale smoothie. Just add fresh kale to your regular summer smoothie and you get all the benefits of raw kale in a refreshing drink. You can make kale chips in a solar dehydrator, oven, or electric dehydrator. Just brush the leaves with a little oil and let them dry out on low temp. They will turn crispy and make a great snack. One of my favorite things to do with the flatter kale leaves is remove the kale bone, (save them for Kale), roll the leaves together and make thin slices. This creates long noodle like green strips which I braise with sesame oil and sesame seeds. I add a little tamari at the end and serve it as a warm side salad.

What do you do with kale?