Not Martha

how to blanch and freeze kale

kale in orange bowls, ready to blanch

Here is another thing I make in bulk and freeze so I can have something very nearly ready to go at dinnertime. By the end of the day I have no imagination left for dinner so often our nutrition suffers (Annie’s mac and cheese again? yay!). But, I can be virtuous and lazy if I have kale in my freezer.

If you would have told me two years ago that I would fall deeply in love with kale I wouldn’t have believed you. I only tried in initially because I felt guilted into eating better (see: Annie’s mac and cheese). However, preparing it for dinner can seem like it would just take too much effort what with all the washing and chopping. It took me way too long to realize that I could blanch it to freeze and have ready to go. One note: I did find bags of frozen kale for sale at Amazon Fresh but they are cut the same way that cut frozen spinach comes, roughly and too small, and I find it rather unpleasant to eat.

Below is step by step instructions on how I get it ready. I put it here because I figure I cannot be the only person who has no idea how to do this. I used the instructions from Pick Your Own, and these here are what I’ve figured out in order to do a lot of kale in batches as efficiently as possible.

blanched kale on a kitchen towel ready to be squeezed out

If you just freeze greens they get bitter, but if you dunk them in boiling water for a few minutes, then stop the cooking abruptly you kill of the enzymes that create the bitter flavor. This is called blanching and except for watching Martha Stewart do it to green beans years ago I never knew much about it.

I usually buy four bunches of kale, which is a lot of kale. First, start boiling water in a huge stockpot. (My electric kettle gets a lot of work here.) Put a large bowl in your sink and fill it with water. Dunk the kale around to wash it. If you bought it from your local organic market look closely for little buggies. Sometimes they just hug the stem and you can get rid of them in the next step. I usually don’t find bugs but there was this one time when I just re-fused to throw out four whole bunches of kale and had to work carefully.

dunking the kale

Next, trimming. The easiest way to trim out the stem is to fold the kale leaf in half lengthwise with the stem facing away from you. Run the tip of a knife along the stem to separate it. (I learned this in Everyday Food, I think.)

trimming the stem

Then you can leave the kale where it is and quickly chop it. Now move that into a bowl and do the next one. If you develop an assembly line rhythm at this point you can get through all your kale pretty quickly.

(Let’s talk briefly about knives. I have an expensive 8″ chefs knife, but I nearly always reach for my Oxo Santoku Knife, which is $20. Just saying. Good stuff.)

quickly chopping

Now get the following things ready: a huge pot of boiling water with a lid, a huge bowl of ice water, a strainer you can use to move the kale from the boiling water to the ice water, a salad spinner, a large kitchen towel laid out flat on your counter and a kitchen timer set to two minutes.

pot of boiling water, bowl of ice water, two minutes on the timer

When the water is boiling dump a bunch of the kale in it, put on the lid (the steam helps cook the bits bobbing on top) and let it cook for two minutes. I usually just stir it once.

When the time is up quickly lift the kale from the pot of water into the ice bath. You’ll reuse the boiling water for the next batch. The water turns progressively darker green with each batch but I cannot imagine that would hurt anything. Bet it would be great for making vegetable stock. Someday I’ll make stock of some sort.

kale in ice bath

Now we need to get it dry. I spin it in a salad spinner. (The OXO Salad Spinner still totally rules. I have the little one and it works fine for two people.)

kale in the salad spinner

Then I lay it flat on a kitchen towel. When all the batches of kale are done I roll the towel up…

kale being rolled in kitchen towl

and squeeze.

kitchen towel looking like a kale-filled burriot

Then I lay the kale out on a sheet of parchment on a cookie sheet. Pop that in the freezer and in about 30 minutes it will be frozen enough for you to shake into your airtight container of choice.

kale spread in single layer on a cookie sheet

And there you are, it’s all ready to pull out of the freezer, saute in olive oil with a little minced garlic (I’m not ashamed to love my garlic press) just until it’s hot, shake a bit of crushed red pepper and salt on top and, ta da!, excellent leafy green side dish that allow you to be smug about your eating habits and level of cleverness for the next 24 hours.

· comments [126] · 06-12-2009 · categories:food · freezerpantry · recipes ·

126 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Suzy C. // Jun 12, 2009 at 5:37 am

    Thanks so much for the kale info. I was just mentioning to a friend last nite that I felt guilty for not having kale in my garden and eating more of it. The one time I did try it was from a package I bought at the grocery and followed the recipe on the back. It was revolting. Your method and simple recipe gives me hope!

  • 2 Erica // Jun 12, 2009 at 6:08 am

    Oh that’s awesome! I never know what to do with Kale and I seem to always get a ton of it in my CSA box.

  • 3 Emily // Jun 12, 2009 at 6:38 am

    I freeze a lot of kale but haven’t ever blanched it…I just chop and put it directly in baggies into the refrigerator. I’ve never noticed any bitterness, but maybe that’s because I’m usually using it in soups and stews, not eating it on its own. So, attention kale-in-soup-eaters who are lazy like me: try it without the blanching and see if you notice a difference. Perhaps you could save a few steps.

  • 4 Dalila // Jun 12, 2009 at 7:01 am

    Great directions, Megan!
    I like the individual freezing – it’s easier to get the amount that you want out of the bag that way.
    I want to point out that kale stems are very edible too! They are a different texture and tend to stay more crunchy so they need more cooking time. To me, they are kind of like a broccoli stem. They are great in stir fries (or kale fries) but I definitely suggest putting them in the pan with the onions so that they are not too tough.

  • 5 em // Jun 12, 2009 at 7:34 am

    Dang! I had no idea you could make kale so complicated! One of the reasons I eat kale is because it is so simple to cook. Here’s how I do it:

    1.) Thinly slice 1 clove garlic.
    2.) Cook the garlic in a big frying/saute pan in a little olive oil and salt.
    3.) Wash kale.
    4.) Hold kale stem in hand and rip leaf off with other hand, dropping directly into garlicky pan. Rip in large or small pieces as desired.
    5.) Cover with lid. The water clinging to the leaves from washing is enough to steam the kale.

    Honestly, I have never even thought of using a knife on kale. Ripping by hand is so much faster and simpler!

  • 6 Seanna Lea // Jun 12, 2009 at 8:02 am

    This is really good to know, because I always have a problem with getting salad-type greens and having them go bad. The average package of greens is a lot for two people to eat in a week or so.

  • 7 amanda // Jun 12, 2009 at 8:04 am

    Thank you! Yes, I’m one of those people who has heard/read about blanching and freezing but there’s never enough info for me to feel like I’d get it right. This is awesome. Also, I am now in love with kale, too. I don’t know how that happened.

  • 8 greta // Jun 12, 2009 at 8:51 am

    I use em’s method for cooking kale too, it’s very quick and easy and the sauteeing seems to minimize the bitterness. Still, I’m thrilled to hear about this method – I’m about to move to the Cleveland area from San Diego, so I’m going to have to get used to not having fresh local produce year-round. Sounds like I could buy a lot of greens in bulk during the summer/fall and prep them to enjoy during winter. Yay!

  • 9 megan // Jun 12, 2009 at 9:07 am

    Emily – I did freeze without blanching once and it was a very different flavor. Since we usually saute it or add it to pasta it was noticeable.

    Em – Dang that’s harsh. What’s so complicated about freezing kale so I always have some around the house?

    Seanna Lea – I have tried keeping fresh kale, supposedly it will keep for a while but it always wilts quickly on me. And I can never count on my nearest market (the organic hippie market) to have good kale.

  • 10 Laura // Jun 12, 2009 at 9:14 am

    Thanks so much- this is great! I used to hate kale (it seemed too much like eating maple leaves or something!) but I am growing to appreciate it! This looks like a great way to have a steady supply of kale and will make it easier to incorporate more of it into my meals!

  • 11 Tiffany S. // Jun 12, 2009 at 9:32 am

    Excellent and timely post! We’re hoping that our Dinosaur kale takes off but we didn’t quite get it in the ground fast enough. Thanks for the blanching advice!

  • 12 pam // Jun 12, 2009 at 9:35 am

    and today, you’ve nearly made me want to eat kale. please don’t do a celery post. some things i don’t ever want to eat, and you make things look too tempting. :D

  • 13 Savannah // Jun 12, 2009 at 9:49 am

    A middle ground of blanching for freezing is using the microwave instead of boiling water. I just heap the chopped kale onto a pyrex pie plate and hit it moderate power for a couple minutes–just long enough for it to start to soften but not cooked to mush. That just gets dumped into a ziplock and frozen.

    I keep the stems separate and chop them on the diagonal, rather like celery, and blanch them the same way. Although they need a bit more cooking, they do fine in any dish I’m already adding kale to or on their own in a veggie soup.

    This microwave technique works for carrots and other veggies too, when you end up with an excess for some reason or want to stock up on something half-done for easy meal prep.

  • 14 megan // Jun 12, 2009 at 10:01 am

    Savannah – Thank you! I don’t have a microwave (tiny kitchen, no room) so I appreciate the tip.

  • 15 Rachel // Jun 12, 2009 at 10:02 am

    I am kicking myself that this never occurred to me. I’ve had way more kale than I could eat or give away all year. I can’t wait to try this with my next crop. Thanks so much!

  • 16 Teri // Jun 12, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    Take all the green water, let it cool down and then it in ice trays. When frozen, change to big ziplock bag. When you make soup, cut the liquid down 1/2 cup drop a few cubes in. Or Save two cups of it and make green rice.

  • 17 megan // Jun 12, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    Green rice! I love it.

  • 18 Dawn // Jun 12, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    I second or uh third the ‘eat the stems too!’ comments. Also instead of garlic and oil with your kale, I can’t recommend a splash or two of seasoned rice vinegar enough. Sounds weird, is freakishly good.

  • 19 Jennifer // Jun 12, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    Love this post and all the others about meals to freeze! Please keep them coming! I’m totally into kale right now as our CSA gives us a huge batch in every delivery. Great use for kale: spanakopita. Sounds complex but take that kale, olive oil & garlic idea (and any other green thing in your veggie drawer: parsley, spinach, mint, green onions, turnip greens), saute, & mix it with feta to make the filling. Phyllo dough is great to keep in the freezer (found in the freezer section next to the pie crusts) and whip out for a meal like this. Make pocket pies with the filling or layer like lasagna with multiple layers of phyllo sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 20 minutes (or until browned) and eat hot or cold.

  • 20 Beth Rang // Jun 13, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    Thank you! That sounds awesome.

  • 21 Amy // Jun 13, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    Genius! I never thought of freezing kale before.

  • 22 Tanya // Jun 13, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    You don’t necessarily need to cook the kale prior to freezing, especially if you’re going to saute it.

  • 23 Elissa // Jun 13, 2009 at 11:03 pm

    Do you know how long this will keep for?

  • 24 megan // Jun 14, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    Elissa – I’m sorry, I do not know how long it will keep.

  • 25 Megan B. // Jun 15, 2009 at 10:50 am

    Heck- I can’t even keep Kale in my house long enough to necessitate freezing! But I’m loving all of your recent time saving food posts, Megan!

  • 26 Alison // Jun 15, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    This is great because kale is the only leafy green my husband likes and I try to always keep it on hand. He loves it when I pan steam it, then add olive & garlic oil to saute, and then finish with balsamic vinegar.

  • 27 prasti // Jun 16, 2009 at 7:03 am

    awesome. i just p/u some kale from the market. always nice to have some on hand :)

  • 28 megan // Jun 16, 2009 at 10:45 am

    Alison – You can also blanch it using steam, it would need to be blanched in smaller bunches depending on your set up, but you could certainly do a whole lot at a time and package it into portioned freezer bags or containers.

    And I just want to note again that I have frozen washed and chopped kale that was not blanched and found it, after defrost/saute, to be more bitter and less yummy.

  • 29 Jessica // Jun 22, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    Just in time – I bought greens at the farmer’s market and won’t be able to make them before they wilt! thanks for the great how to

  • 30 Tina // Jun 23, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    I wish I would have known about your blog before last night! I made some soup that called for kale. never made it before and although I liked it, I thought the kale was tough. little did I know to cut the big stalk out. sheesh. thanks for the tip!

  • 31 Aaron // Jun 30, 2009 at 6:24 am

    Our garden is just ridiculous with kale right now, so this was the thing we were looking for (hence the google “blanching kale”). I see no reason not to follow your direx step by step. Heck, we even have an OXO spinner!

  • 32 tammy // Jul 8, 2009 at 10:22 am

    Very nice photos ;-).
    I always save the water from cooking/steaming veggies and use for cooking rice (as already mentioned), pasta sauces, soups, quinoa and more.

    Off to freeze my kale ~ oh, and side point, I would LOVE to have a “hippie organic market” as my closest market!! LOL

  • 33 megan // Jul 8, 2009 at 10:52 am

    Tammy – I’m happy about the local market, but I do have to say my checking account is a little wary of how much I spend there on (admittedly really good for me) food.

  • 34 Monica // Jul 9, 2009 at 8:51 am

    I saute kale with olive oil and garlic as others have suggested, and then sprinkle it with toasted pine nuts and Parmesan cheese. Yummy. An Asian version is to saute the kale in a canola oil with grated fresh garlic and ginger and then toss in some soy sauce, and toasted sesame seeds.

  • 35 terry // Aug 23, 2009 at 7:20 am

    I have to harvest all my kale before leaving on vacation (it will freeze before I get back). That is the reason I need to preserve it. This looks like the way.

    One of the best ways for me to get kale in my diet is to make banana-kale smoothies. I know, sounds horrible. But they are great! Banana, handful of torn kale, some yogurt, wheat germ, ground flax seed, and for sweetener I use chopped dates that have been soaked in a little hot water to soften. You could use a little maple syrup if desired. I blend in my Vitamix for about a minute. I also throw in a peach or pear or other fruit if they are in season. Very yummy.

  • 36 Vi // Sep 4, 2009 at 10:58 am

    We like kale minced fine and added to mashed potatoes or added to the soup pot just before serving. I believe most frozen vegies are best used within six months for maximum nutrition, but they retain their taste longer than that.

  • 37 mavis Hintermeister // Sep 5, 2009 at 11:17 am

    I use Kale all summer in smoothies..kale, banana, apple, pineapple, carrot, or whatever you want to add..base using orange juice..also we love kale mixed in mashed potatoes, delicious.
    I too was looking for a way to freeze Kale. will it be ok to put in smoothies after being frozen?

  • 38 Rebecca // Sep 19, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    awsome! Thank you for posting this. I too found some basic directions on freezing but your directions are so detailed I feel confident that I can pull this off like a pro. I’ve recently begun to get more interested in ways to preserve my excess produce, especially as we had such a great year due to our addition of three chickens to our household (outside in a coop of course) and the manure tea we make from their wastes. Our garden loved it, and now we have been overwhelmed. I’ve been learning to can as we have had a million tomatoes (slight exaggeration)made many loaves of zucchini bread, and Kale has been coming out our ears. Have given some to friends, family, and neighbors but it is neverending. This was our first attempt at growing Kale, and I hadnt really had much experience withit before, its worked out great and now i love it! Thanks again for the info about how to freeze it properly, and to all who offered recipe ideas, I am going to try that spanikopita recipe soon.

  • 39 Sandra Smith // Sep 29, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    I planted Kale this year for the first time. I love it. I coarsely chop it stems and all but not the largest stems. I simmer it in a little bit of chicken buillion with a chopped green onion and some pepper. I simmer it about 4-5 minutes or so. It tastes like mild spinach to me but a nicer texture. A little butter on it is even better once you drain it.

  • 40 tallulah // Oct 10, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    I just harvested a huge amount of kale from a local community garden. I’ve never liked how much color leeches into blanching water (makes me suspicious that a lot of nutrients are being lost, ditto for the ice water bath. even the washing of cut greens seems to leech a lot of color into the water.
    That said, I washed them whole. then I also used the same stem removed method mentioned by ‘em’, and ‘blanched them in only a inch of water for about 2 min. covered, stirring a couple of times with a tongs. Then using the tongs I put the kale into a large colander and toss to cool. Then in the same colander, I ‘chopped’ them with a scissors, spread on a foil lined baking sheet, covered with another layer of foil, froze until ‘set’, then put into largish zip-lock bags.
    After blanching 3-4 batches I poured the water into a cup and drank it! No vitamins lost here, smile.
    I’ve been Harvesting and freezing this kale all week, and yesterday I cooked a frozen batch and it tasted exactly like fresh kale.

  • 41 tallulah // Oct 10, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    If Terry or any of the kale smoothie drinkers check back in, I’d love to know what machine you are making your smoothies in: a blender, food processor or a juicer? doubt it’s a juicer since you are using bananas and orange juice,
    but i can’t imagine anything else handling the kale.
    I’d love to try it so please explain. I have a juicer which is packed away, no blender, but i do have a food processor, 1) would this work? 2)What could i expect: a puree, or would it just be a very fine chop?
    I totally trust you kale smoothie drinkers when you say it’s delicious, but it’s hard to imagine! Still I’m definitely going to try it once I hear back from you experts. Thanks for anyone’s in-put

  • 42 tallulah // Oct 10, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    sorry terry just saw that you are using a vitamix machine. When i read that the first time I was thinking Vitamix was a vitamin powder.
    but i can’t exactly remember what a vitamix machine is. i’m thinking it’s a super powerful blender rather than a juicer, right? So a food processor is probably not going to do the job, right?

  • 43 Dore // Oct 20, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    Yummy, yummy on kale smoothies – an easy blender treat. Slightly chunky consistency – the Vitamix would liquefy it. I use roughly equal amounts of kale and ripe/overripe seasonal fruit with enough water/juice so the blender can handle it.
    Prep: Just strip the leaves. Fruit goes in with the skin. Last week, after apple pie, used just the apple peels. In the summer, I use watermelon, now it is fall – dropped pears. Carrot tops, turnip tops – anything green or fruit is fair game. Refrigerated, it keeps in a wide mouth sports bottle for awhile.

  • 44 Pam // Oct 28, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    I think I recognize ‘Beedy’s Camden’ kale. Am I right? If so, that explains your newfound love of kale. I grew this variety for the first time this year and am loving it! Thanks fr the freezing directions. So far it’s holding up in the garden, but sooner or later …

  • 45 megan // Oct 28, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    Pam – I bought this kale at my local natural market so I don’t know what kind of kale it is. It really good though, nice firm leaves and lots of surface.

  • 46 Pat // Oct 31, 2009 at 11:08 am

    Hi, I am making smoothies daily so I bought a large bunch of kale and pureed it in the Vitamix with a bit of water . Then froze the ‘mush’ in ice cube trays and dumped them into freezer bags , Now I pop one out to add to our daily smoothie and we can have some all winter. Has anyone else tried this?

  • 47 Sue Olson // Dec 4, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    I too was thinking freeze the green water in ice cube trays but my thought was to drop it into the kids smoothies. There must be some nutrients in there and even if there isn’t the placebo effect will work wonders for the mommy part of me:)

    Also one big thank you for this post – wilted ruined vegetables really does a number on me – the GUILT that once again I did not eat healthy like I said I would when I was in the grocery store…I feel liberated:)

  • 48 Priscilla F. // Dec 7, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    Googled “freezing kale” and found this site. Good directions – thanks! It’s the beginning of December – woke up this morning with 3 inches of snow on our kale (SW Wisconsin) and decided I really did have to do something with it if I was going to preserve it’s great nutritional benefits for the rest of the non-garden season! It held up extremely well through many hard frosts, below freezing nights, and snow, but can’t imagine it will hold up in forecasted blizzard-like conditions, so time to get to work!

  • 49 Kim P // Dec 7, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    I tried it both ways (blanching/not blanching). Blanching works for me! I did notice the difference in the taste; the bitterness was gone. Thanks so much for the tip.

  • 50 Joe D. // Dec 16, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    We harvested all of the remaining kale and chard from our garden last week, prior to an expected snow storm. We’ve had many frosts here in central Massachusetts, and the kale is so much sweeter because of it. We grow Russian, Winterbor, and Redbor kale. We followed instructions here for the blanching (many batches) and have a huge amount to freeze. We’ll add it to bean soups and saute it with garlic. We decided to leave the leaf ribs (not stems, though) for variety and crunch. We blanched the kale first, and the blanching water was quite green. After the chard (the multicolor “bright lights” variety), the water took on a deep ruby color. We’ll refrigerate the water and use it for rice and soups over this coming cold week. Thanks so much for all the ideas!

  • 51 Things that are delicious: Kale. « well fed, flat broke // Jan 5, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    […] 1 lb. kale, washed, large stems removed, and blanched […]

  • 52 lyn // Jan 22, 2010 at 8:30 am

    Thanks for the info., I never thought of trimming the stems. I find that I like it better with the chewy stems.

  • 53 Imp and Arn » Blog Archive » Eating from a box // Jan 24, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    […] enough leafy green in there to last a month.  I followed a how-to from NotMartha for blanching and freezing kale, and you can see a bag of the frozen greens in the bottom of that pic.  I haven’t eaten […]

  • 54 Bill in Oregon // Apr 14, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    My wife and I grow and eat a lot of kale. Here’s a tip to speed up getting the woody stems out:

    Hold the kale stem up, strip the leaf down both sides, where the stem breaks off it is tender enough to cook and eat. Then chop as you normally would.

  • 55 Dhyana // May 18, 2010 at 7:17 am

    kale is a wonderful staple in green smoothies for those of you who are conscious of balancing body pH and want to become more alkaline in your eating: in a blender fill it about a quarter with torn fresh kale leaves, half a small sliced zucchini, 2 ribs of sliced celery, half an avocado, and half a (red) peeled grapefruit in chunks. Cover with water and blend until creamy.

  • 56 Lauren // May 27, 2010 at 9:16 am

    I love to grow and eat kale! But once it got over about 80 degrees, bugs attacked so I just harvested it all to make way for hot weather plants and am now about to freeze it. I just wonder why do you nned to freeze it on the cooke sheet before you put it into the containers to freeze again? Why not just freeze it (once) after it’s dry? I saute’ it with garlic, olive oil, and crushed red pepper too – so simple, so good!

  • 57 megan // May 27, 2010 at 9:45 am

    Lauren – I freeze it on cookie sheets first simply so that it won’t stick together in a large frozen clump. Freezing it flat means I can shake out as much as I want later without having to pry it apart.

  • 58 Rachel // Jun 10, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    Thanks for the great tutorial! I’ve done a lot of gardening and canning, but this is my first year with Kale, and I have lots left over that I’d like to store. Can’t wait to try your method!

  • 59 Chard Nugget « Santosha Homestead // Jul 4, 2010 at 10:29 am

    […] followed the procedure on NotMartha, it was easy to follow and successful. I used the same process for the chard and the kale, I think […]

  • 60 Marcy // Jul 4, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    I just blanched and froze some lovely red russian kale from my garden — I didn’t spin it after the ice bath, I just squeezed it into little clumps, about as much as I would anticipate throwing in a pot of soup. Froze them on a cookie sheet and then put them in a freezer bag. I only dunked them in the boiling water long enough to wilt them — maybe thirty seconds. I hope that’s enough to kill the bitterness.

  • 61 reita // Jul 9, 2010 at 4:17 am

    great information, we have tons of kale and I did not know if it could be frozen, I freeze swiss chard but this if our first year of growing kale. Up early this morning to harvest the crop and get freezing.

  • 62 Audrey // Jul 18, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    Great tips for freezing kale!

    Easy Kale recipes that even the haters love:

    1tsp garlic and 1tsp ginger sauteed
    add kale till wilted and dark green (just a few minuted)
    add 1TBS Balsamic Vinegar and 1TBS of Soy Sauce
    stir around and you are done. Delicious!

  • 63 Coby // Jul 24, 2010 at 11:36 pm

    Thanks for this easy to follow instruction. You put in a couple of steps I wouldn’t have considered, but should! Love it:) If I may be so bold as to suggest that if you fear there are some kritters in your kale, add salt to the soaking water and leave to sit. The salt water knocks of even the clingiest of clingons:) Now, off to prep some kale for the freezer:D

  • 64 Nancy // Jul 26, 2010 at 8:56 am

    Hi Kale-liking people,
    I thought I’d just mention – since, yes, you can use kale to make spanakopita – that I used my bbq recently to make one, given the heat (even up here in Toronto). I just placed the kale spanakopita casserole on the top shelf of the bbq and kept it at about medium heat. I think it needed more time b/c the feta wasn’t melted the way I like it, but the concept was there, and it worked reasonably well. Stay cool! My next move is kale chips.

  • 65 No produce delivery Friday; cooler still well stocked « The 4th Street Food Co-op // Jul 29, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    […] I made the following dead easy recipe today with our red russian kale. Excess greens can also be frozen for later use in stews, soups, […]

  • 66 Tom // Sep 12, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    Thanks for all the info on freezing Kale. My first try at freezing. Could not bear the thought of giving all my extr kale to my rabbits (they get enough treats). Can’t beleive more people don’t grow their own. It starts slow, but then just keeps growing, doesn’t take any care, just pick and eat.

  • 67 Kate // Sep 18, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    The main purpose of blanching vegetables that are to be frozen is not to remove the bitterness (or not only that). It’s primarily to break down the enzymes that cause food to biodegrade.

    Great directions, Megan. Just put up another giant pile of kale from the garden. (Sadly, it Seems to be a kale-and-cucumber garden this year.

  • 68 Kate // Sep 18, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    Whoops! Hit enter before I was done.

    Meant to say sadly it seems to only a kale-and-cucumber garden this year and not much else.

  • 69 riduck // Sep 24, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    I use kale in a Tuscan-type white bean soup with onions and crumbled sausage, olive oil and a dash of white wine vinegar – even throw in some carrots or tomatoes or whatever you like.
    The same ingredients make a good cold bean salad; then I cook the kale a little first.

  • 70 Chris // Oct 3, 2010 at 10:39 pm

    Have you guys not tried kale chips! The only thing I could think of to do with kale is chop it and put in a soup/stew. Until I discovered baked kale chips. Rip the leaves off the stem, rub a handful of olive oil on the leaves, sprinkle with salt and bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. My picky 5 and 10 year old love them, as does everyone in the family. Do yourself a favour, try it!

  • 71 Jason // Oct 27, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    Looks like microwaving instead of blanching preserves more of the vitamins. Plus it is easier.

  • 72 megan // Oct 27, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    Thanks Jason, my own kitchen is so tiny I don’t have room for a microwave. (Nobody believes me when I say this but it’s true!) But, it is good to know that the microwave method preserves more vitamins.

  • 73 Genevieve // Oct 29, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    I used this for my whole winter’s worth of kale — literally over 50 bunches, probably more, and all winter I will pull them out and put poached eggs on top, or make a winter salad and just dress with cheese and vinegar and oil, throw in a stir fry, make kale chips, etc.

  • 74 Bonnie Collacutt // Oct 30, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    I don’t believe all the discussion about blanching/not blanching!! All vegetables must be blanched to preserve the vitamins. Note: peppers and tomatoes are fruit so can be frozen raw.

  • 75 Lorrie // Nov 20, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    I love this post – I’ve just begun the kale smoothies and didn’t want to waste a drop of this heavenly green. Thank you all for the information – I think I will try to microwave method that Jason posted. Best of luck everyone!

  • 76 Part II of the Great Thanksgiving Recipe Hunt: Side Dishes « Counterpoint Cooks: two spoons are better than one // Nov 23, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    […] Add kale to boiling water and blanch until wilted but still bright green, about 2 minutes.  Immediately plunge into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.  Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water and set aside.  You can prepare the kale up to 2 days ahead.  For a great detailed pictorial of how to prep and blanch kale, visit here. […]

  • 77 Anon // Jan 12, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Just saw that Whole Foods has a 1-lb bag of fzn kale (curly blue?? variety) for $2. Not sure how it compares to home frozen, though.

  • 78 Caroline // Jan 26, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    Thank you so much for these directions! I only recently discovered kale – where has it been hiding all my life?!? – and I also find myself quite tired and lazy when it comes time to make dinner. Plus, kale comes in such large quantities that there is no way I will use it all at once. This completely solved the problem! Really detailed and precise directions – super helpful. Thank you! I made a mess in my kitchen with little green leaves everywhere, but it’s well worth it.

  • 79 justine // Apr 29, 2011 at 4:01 am

    Just wanted to let you know i linked to your post in mine for Pina Kale-adas!

  • 80 Sally // Aug 12, 2011 at 7:34 am

    My family has had kale at holiday dinners all my life. Convinced my fiance to grow some and this freezing method is great because we have a lot. Our recipe takes an innocent kale and turns it into something rich, but it’s so good.
    We cut off the stems, then stack & roll the leaves like cigars before chopping them. Make a white sauce using a chopped onion sauteed in butter, a couple Tbsps of flour to make a roux, then about a cup of milk or cream. Steam the kale for about 10 min. Drain & add white sauce. It’s ok if the white sauce is very thick. The moisture on the kale will thin it out. Serve & top with turkey gravy. YUM!

  • 81 Myra // Aug 16, 2011 at 6:08 am

    I’ve read that you are not supposed to save the water from cooking kale and use it for other things. I may have read that on Dr. Mercola’s website. Not sure. I always dump mine.

  • 82 Jean // Aug 29, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    The color of the water is so dark because of the nutrients that bled out of the cut vegetables. My first batch of slice frozen carrots tasted like cardboard. So from then on, I blanch vegetables with as little cutting on them as possible. Once they have endured their ice bath, then I pat dry with a towel, arrange on the cutting board, and slice for the freezer. I believe the frozen vegetables retain more nutrients and flavor by not cutting them until after they have been blanched and iced.

  • 83 Susie // Sep 9, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    I saute chopped up garlic, green onions in olive oil and vegetable broth add kale, little lemon juice, red pepper flakes, parmesan cheese till kale is just bright green….

  • 84 John // Sep 13, 2011 at 6:32 am

    Hey Ladies, Here’s a good one for Kale! Fry some nice bacon in butter, remove the bacon when cooked. Chop some onion and fry lightly in the juices. Remove the onion and add your prepared [chopped] Kale and lightly cook. Chop up the bacon into bits, and add that and the onion and cook together with the Kale and add some black pepper! Yummie Scrummie See ya, John

  • 85 Seattleite // Sep 19, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    hi – i might be crazy – but this ends with ‘i usually stir it once’ and i thought it used to end with info on how you cooled it (in ice water) and bagged it up for the freezer? i checked in safari and chrome with the same result.

  • 86 Carmen // Oct 8, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    Thanks ever so for the info on freezing Kale. Its the last outdoor market day of the season, and the bunches of Kale are simply huge today!

  • 87 terry // Oct 11, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Hi–I was the one who posted about kale smoothies. I am going to try to freeze my kale harvest and see if it will work in smoothies this winter. I am afraid it will be mushy so I am going to try to freeze it in large pieces and in smaller pieces and see which works better. Also liked the post about just blending it up and putting in ice cube trays and then bagging those. Might try some of that too. I have LOTS of kale in my garden! Blue curly.

  • 88 bavaria // Nov 2, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    Another method….leave the kale in it’s bouquet bunch, dump in the blanching water, pull out, dip in cold water, shake off, flop the whole thing on the cutting board and slice off the top half of the bouquet in 2″ pieces. This goes quickly because you have the whole pile of kale uniformly lined up. The bottom stemmy half of the bouquet can go into the food processor, chop well. So now you have 2 products….leafy chunks for a nice saute, and chopped for things like soup, lasagna, smoothies.

  • 89 Why & How to Incorporate Kale into Your Family's Diet // Jan 5, 2012 at 10:10 am

    […] likely to thoroughly blend. If this step seems a little time-consuming or annoying, you can always blanch a big batch and freeze it to have it on hand for smoothies, pesto, etc. I like to use it in smoothies that also feature […]

  • 90 Millie // Mar 23, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    My kale has been in the ground in Michigan for 2+ years. The old leaves died down and now I have huge amounts of young tender leaves. I found this site because I thought I should freeze some. Anxious to try the chips. Thanks for all the good ideas.

  • 91 Debbie // Apr 28, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    I don’t kow if this was mentioned since I am tired and didn’t read all the posts…I use a mesh zip bag and put the kale in it…blanch it, after 2 mins. just put the bag out, let the hot water drip, drop the entire bag into the ice water, with your hands move the kale around till it’s cold…pull the bag out of the ice water, squeeze it and then put in the salad spinner. Then go on with the towel…love the idea of saving the water…I don’t cut the leaves and the water isn’t very green.
    I will get back on her tomorrow and see what else I can learn!

  • 92 Sharon // Apr 30, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Most veggies are low in acid and need to be blanched to deactivate their enzymes so they don’t get all wilted and wierd. We have lots of kale, onions and tomatoes in the garden, so we have kale all the time. Saute’ with any of the following: tomatoes, garlic, bacon, curry powder, or balsamic vinegar. Sometimes we eat it on crusty bread.

  • 93 Poppy // Jul 10, 2012 at 5:26 am

    I have a ton of red kale in my garden. Going out to pick it right now-probably too late in the season, but what the heck! Thanks for all of the interesting ideas.

  • 94 Margaret // Jul 19, 2012 at 7:29 am

    You CAN teach an old dog new tricks. I am 70 yrs. young and previously, when we wanted greens and beans or sauteed kale, I’d just buy enough for one meal. Yesterday at the farm stand they had beautiful kale and I bought a lot. I knew if I turned to the internet I’d find out how to freeze it. Thanks for your very clever and informative info.

  • 95 Kipp // Jul 24, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    OH GOOD! My garden neighbor offered me as much of her kale as I want – she is already sick of it! I didn’t plant it because I have never had it. Now that I’ve tried it, I LOVE it in stir fry or just by itself. I’m new to Swiss Chard to, and have lots of that given to me as well. I’ll be freezing lots of both using your method. I love both, sauteed in butter with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice at the end of the cooking – YUM!

  • 96 Carolyn Hart // Jul 25, 2012 at 8:07 am

    Just finished blanching a batch of Italian Black kale (also known as Dinosaur Kale or Lacinato) from my garden. With eight plants I’ll be doing a lot of blanching, but will try the straight into the freezer trick submitted by one reader, too. I blanched the kale for one minute, then thought to find out blanching time recommended and found your site straightaway. You suggest 2 minutes; I had done 1 minute, which seems sufficient. I might go retrieve all those thick veins from the compost pile now that I’ve read readers’ tips on using them! Love the “fold in half” to remove thick vein and then cut” trick–will definitely use that to save time on my next batch. I use kale in soups, and in Sunday morning veggie-filled frittatas (I use up a lot of odd bits of veggies on Sunday mornings–a frittata is a great way to disguise them!). As a side-dish, kale is wonderful when sauteed lightly with garlic and tossed in a little olive oil and served with a drizzle of balsamic reduction and a crumble of goat-cheese. Voila!–good and healthy eating!

  • 97 Storing up veggies for the “winter” | Food Hackery // Aug 8, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    […] I’ve been getting lots of kale so I have needed to learn how to blanch that. I found a couple helpful posts so that I can keep up with what I’m getting. I’ve also frozen green beans, corn, […]

  • 98 Dianne // Aug 9, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    Thank you for this. I have successfully grown Kale in my garden this year. Last year yhe worms and eer gort it all! We try to produce as much of what we eat as possible so I am exciteds to eat it in the middle of our cold dark winter!

  • 99 happenings | Granny's Quilting Fun // Aug 15, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    […] fewer calories. My kids will even eat them! Today I froze some kale (using this method) to use in soup in the winter. I’ve also used kale in stir fry just a bit. Another […]

  • 100 Bumper crop of kale « Plot 30 // Aug 17, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    […] We weeded, thinned, and picked. It looks like we will be harvesting our kale for a while yet, so here are instructions on how to blanch kale for freezing so you can enjoy the fresh taste of summer all winter. Cheers, Lauren Share […]

  • 101 Susan Green // Aug 17, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    Meagan, I really like your blog. I’m a “kaleaulic”. We’ve had it in our garden for about three years…(We live in Alaska)…..We love it raw mixed with our other salad greens. I also eat it sauteed, in soups….last year I went through withdrawls and got the bright idea to blanch and freeze. It’s everything I knew but had to refresh. That’s a great idea about putting it on the cookie sheet for 30 minutes first, that’s the way we do our blueberries. I didn’t think about that until I saw it in print! I’ll be reading your blog more often now. Great info….thanks

  • 102 Bonnie // Aug 19, 2012 at 10:59 am

    I just packed 45 ziplocks with raw kale and cold water. How long will they keep in the freezer? I did them for smoothies. I just put my blueberries in an icecream bucket and they are fine and don’t stick together when frozen. You can just grab a handful

  • 103 megan // Aug 19, 2012 at 11:07 am

    Bonnie – Unfortunately I have no idea how long it will keep. Anybody?

  • 104 sadie // Aug 21, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    I use a bamboo steamer to steam the kale prior to freezing with the same results and possibly less loss of nutrients? Perhaps someone already posted this…

  • 105 shari // Sep 15, 2012 at 6:30 am

    does it crisp up again after blanched, frozen, then fried?

  • 106 megan // Sep 17, 2012 at 8:29 am

    Shari – I does depending on how you prepare it, though the frozen kale does let off a bit of water. I usually cover it to let it steam itself for a while. I have not tried making something as crisp as kale chips from the frozen kale.

  • 107 Jan // Sep 22, 2012 at 11:36 am

    The blanching stops the enzymes from continuing to break the kale down as it normally would. It is an important, simple step to help preserve the nutrition in the kale.

  • 108 Preserving the Harvest | High Mowing Organic Seeds' Blog – The Seed Hopper // Sep 25, 2012 at 9:30 am

    […] Freezing Kale – […]

  • 109 Myra // Oct 6, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    I think you are not supposed to use the water that Kale is boiled in. There is something bad for you in it. Google it.

  • 110 Donna // Oct 26, 2012 at 11:07 am

    Aren’t important enzymes destroyed by blanching? Those enzymes are the main benefit in eating raw vs cooked food. I use raw kale in smoothies made in my VitaMix. I grew some this year and want to harvest it before winter and I’m wondering if anyone has frozen it, unblanched, and used it in smoothies.

  • 111 Nikki // Nov 14, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Glad to see this post! I have been searching the web for ways to “de-bitter” kale. I know it is super healthy, but just can’t tolerate the extreme bitterness…. I have only ever eaten it raw (both fresh and frozen without blanching) and used it in smoothies… I had to add soooo much sweet fruit like very ripe bananas just to make it drinkable, and that was only using about 2 leaves (though I left the stems on, which are supposedly the most bitter part). I am hoping to try blanching and then using in a veggie stew soon… that is, if I can find any that is not wilted anywhere!! So hard to find fresh kale around here! Oh, one more thing, people say to save the blanching water for all the nutrients, but doesn’t that water contain all the bitterness?

  • 112 Pasta with Tuna, Broccoli Rabe and Meyer Lemon-Olive Pesto // Jan 22, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    […] Something green…Uh-Oh, I may have to go to the store for that. I have baby bok choy, but that’s too bitter for these ingredients.  I have green cabbage, but that’s going to be part of the Asian Tacos (that’s the recipe to come.) BUT WAIT…freezer stash.  I have blanched collards and broccoli rabe. (Blanching technique that can be applied to any greens here.) […]

  • 113 Barb // Apr 8, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    Our kale overwinters wonderfully here (PNW) so we’ve been eating quite a bit of kale but I don’t think we can eat it all before it goes to seed.

    Going to be trying this, thanks for all the details!

  • 114 Martin // Jun 17, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    Great post!! I grow my own kale and freeze bags and bags of it. I don’t blanch, just double wash, manually pull off the stems, salad spin to dry and put directly into large zip locks. I use them in smoothies for my family and my 4 and 2 yr old girls just love them. Here is the recipie: 2 cups unsweetened almond milk, a large handful of kale (maybe 2 cups), one frozen banana, handful of other frozen fruit, 2 tbls chia seeds, one scoop of Greens8000 (freeze dried green powder). We love the taste and are hoping its as healthy as it sounds! Any other kale smoothy recipies out there?? How long can it last in the freezer?

  • 115 Tina // Sep 21, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    Kale, potatoes, & vinegar – Dutch Recipe!!
    The above, has been eaten in the Netherlands for hundreds of years. Then when World War II happened and many evacuees flooded little villages in the country side, looking for grains & other foods to take back to cities, the only thing to offer travelers was a meal made out of boiled Potatoes, boiled and (chopped up!) Kale. Mix both with potato masher, or blender (not too fine!!) and sprinkle bit of vinegar over it!!! If you have a good smoked sausage, tastes wonderful also with this dish. But we did without sausage and everybody, even finicky city dwellers, ate mashed potatoes with mashed kale with gusto, bit of vinegar added the right touch! This is a very simple dish, with great value!!!

  • 116 Mary // Nov 4, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    I harvested 3-1/2 pounds of kale out of my Utah garden this morning and froze it using the microwave method of blanching. So easy! I am excited to have this kale in my freezer for the upcoming winter. Thank you Megan and all who’ve shared their methods.

  • 117 Banana Berry Blast Smoothie and Freezing kale | Grove is Green // Jan 3, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    […] website helped me tremendously – pics and step by step directions if you need help: Share this:TwitterFacebookGoogleMorePinterestPrintEmailLike this:Like […]

  • 118 Rolf // Mar 17, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    You mentioned that when using the same water for several batches, it begins to turn green. Much of what is left in the water are the nutrients vitamins and flavor of the kale. My grandmother would save and drink the water from her cooked greens. I steam my vegetables thus saving all the good stuff for my plate. This also works if you want to freeze them.
    Next time you throw out your cooking water, think about what you are throwing away.

  • 119 Tess // Sep 7, 2014 at 9:16 am

    Kale fried rice: 2 fried eggs chopped into thin strips , set aside. 5 or 6 bacon strips chopped and fried till crisp. Add 9-10 cups deveined, chopped, , Russian kale. Add 1/2 tsp turmeric powder, tamari/soy sauce to taste, pepper, cook kale for only 1 minute. Take off the heat. Mix in the egg strips, 3 cups freshly cooked brown rice, cup of pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. Mix well. Salt to taste.

  • 120 Judy // Sep 24, 2014 at 2:54 am

    My neighbor offered me a ton of kale from her garden & I took it because she suggested I should freeze it for later. I found this website right away. GREAT pictures & detail – it was very easy! Looking forward to some yummy soup in October!! THANKS!

  • 121 Anna @Green Talk // Feb 24, 2015 at 11:07 am

    I grow a ton of kale and like your tutorial. However, sometimes, I have too much and have started dehydrating. See here.

  • 122 Debbie Curle // Aug 23, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    Great idea for freezing kale – my daughter decided we should plant some this year – haven’t done so before so she planted four plants – I have it coming out my ears. I like it fresh in a salad with sliced strawberries, some cut up peppers, cucumber, and Asian dressing. We didn’t let it freeze for 30 minutes – just about 5 minutes on a cookie sheet but I don’t know if you have to even do that.
    Has anyone ever used it instead of chopped spinach in lasagna? Wondering how that would work.

  • 123 MOUSE // Apr 2, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    Have used kale or swiss chard all the time in lasagna…don’t know the difference.

  • 124 Emily S. // Jun 12, 2016 at 6:33 pm

    Funny, I was just eating a box of Annie’s mac n cheese with sauteed kale and garlic (to help make it healthy of course), and i thought i’d look up a way for me to enjoy this in the winter when i don’t have copious amounts of kale in my garden. Thanks for the tips – looking forward to trying it!

  • 125 Lena // Sep 20, 2016 at 7:04 pm

    Just followed this exactly with Swiss chard. Thank you so much!!!

  • 126 Jules // Dec 8, 2016 at 8:24 am

    Thank you, this is helpful information about freezing. Frozen kale is surprisingly expensive, and kale is the easiest thing to grow, it’s indestructible and lasts well into cold weather. Do discard the water from blanching. Kale contains oxalic acid which is removed by blanching. Some people cann0t/should not consume raw kale because of this, blanching reduces the oxalic acid content so we can enjoy kale goodness. I make kale chips from blanched leaf quarters and it turns out fine.

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