Do you want to eat healthily? Start by including kale into your diet plan! Why?
It is a superfood packed with beneficial nutrients such as essential vitamins and minerals. It is packed with antioxidants too, so it’s no wonder it has become the darling of the health food world!
Once you include this precious vegetable into your regular diet, there will be many questions you’ll need to answer. For example:
How to store kale? Can you freeze it? How to tell if kale is bad?
We will tell you all you need to know and answer all these questions! Stay with us to the very end!
What Is Kale?
In the science world, kale is known as Brassica oleracea var. Acephala. It is a famous member of the cabbage family. Just like its close relatives broccoli and cauliflower, kale is a cruciferous vegetable.
You can find different types of kale. The most popular sorts are lacinato and curly kale, but ‘Red Russian’ and Chinese kale are not far behind. They differ in color, shape, and flavor, so you should try them all and find your favorite!
No matter which type you choose, you’ll enjoy a highly nutritious meal. Namely, all sorts of kale are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
What Is The Nutritional Value Of Kale?
If you eat a serving of kale (200g), you’ll consume only 98kcal, which is only 4% of your recommended daily allowance (RDA). Kale is rich in protein and fiber, so this small portion should keep you satiated. It will account for 16% RDA of protein and 14% RDA of fiber, while the sugar content is kept low (only 2% RDA).
Check out the following chart for specific nutritional value amounts and nutrition facts per 100g of kale:
The next chart shows you the calories and nutritional macronutrient content in kale:
Of course, a lot depends on the way you prepare kale. Its nutritional value will change once you cook it and add salt, oil, or spices.
Why Should You Eat Kale?
As we have already mentioned, kale bears the superfood title – that is not without a good reason! There are multiple benefits:
- Detoxication: Kale is rich in antioxidants. They help remove unwanted toxins, known as free radicals, that build up in your body and lead to cell damage, inflammation, and diseases.
- Diabetes: The American Diabetes Association suggests that vegetables rich in minerals, fiber, and antioxidants can offer some protection against diabetes. Consuming dietary fiber lowers the risk of developing type 2 diabetes as well as blood glucose levels.
- Heart Disease: Various nutrients in kale, such as potassium, can help reduce the risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases. Consuming fiber helps lower blood lipid levels, including the “bad” cholesterol, and blood pressure.
- Cancer: All the green vegies contain chlorophyll. It binds to some carcinogens in our body and prevents their absorption. In this way, green veggies, kale included, lower the risk of cancer. The already-mentioned antioxidants and fiber may help prevent cancer as well.
- Bone Health: Kale is rich in both calcium and phosphorus. This pair has a vital role in healthy bone formation. Vitamin K lowers the risk of bone fractures.
- Digestion: High in fiber and water, kale promotes healthy digestion and prevents constipation.
- Skin And Hair: Rich in beta-carotene and vitamin A, kale enhances the growth of all body tissues. Vitamin C secures enough collagen to keep your skin, hair, and bones in good condition too.
- Eye Health: Kale contains lutein and zeaxanthin, as well as vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and zinc. It is a combination that fights against age-related macular degeneration and keeps your eyes healthy.
How To Choose Kale?
If you are a first-time buyer and want fresh, mild-flavored kale, you should try to follow the subsequent advice when choosing kale on the market or in a grocery store:
- Choose kale with smaller leaves – it will be more tender and have a milder taste.
- The kale you buy should be moist and crisp.
- Avoid wilted kale or the one blemished by tiny holes.
- Leaves have to be green – yellow and brown are colors you should avoid.
- Check if the stems are firm and in good condition since they are edible as well.
How To Store Kale?
If you have gone wild in a grocery shop or market and brought home more kale that you can eat, you need to store it properly in order to keep it fresh for as long as possible.
Just remember that the longer you keep the kale stored, the stronger its flavor will be.it is thus best to use it within a day or two of purchase. Think about that next time you go out grocery shopping!
You shouldn’t wash kale before storing it. Instead, wrap it in a damp paper towel and put it in a plastic bag. Try to spread individual leaves on top of each layer.
Kale needs to “breathe.” Therefore, it is best to leave the bag open or at least not seal it completely. In this way, there will be enough airflow to keep kale fresh longer.
Keep the plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper. Do not put kale close to the back of your refrigerator since low temperatures can cause kale to freeze.
Remember to wash the kale before cooking it!
As an alternative, or if you prefer to store kale in a ready-to-cook condition, you can wash kale before storing it. In this case, you have to make sure it is thoroughly dried before you put it in the fridge. If not, it will spoil much faster due to the excess moisture.
How To Freeze Kale?
If you need to store kale for longer than a week, you’ll need a long term storage solution. A freezer is an obvious solution, but the question is – can you freeze kale?
The good news is that kale freezes well. Regrettably, there is a good chance that it can turn bitter, especially if you don’t blanch it first.
1. Freezing Kale As It Is:
Wash and thoroughly dry the kale. It is best to dry it by gently patting with a paper towel.
If you do not like to eat the stems, you can remove them before you freeze the kale. Still, even though they are hard and woody when kale is fresh, the stems will soften once they are frozen and thawed, so you might want to keep them.
It is best to chop kale into 1” pieces and place them on a baking sheet in a single layer. You can then transfer it to a freezer-safe container. The container should be air-tight.
If you freeze kale this way, you can keep it in the freezer for a couple of months.
2. Freezing Blanched Kale:
Logically, you start by blanching kale. First, you need to wash the kale and separate stems and leaves.
Next, transfer kale in boiling water. Keep the pot covered and let it simmer for a few minutes. When kale is done, remove it from the boiling water with a strainer.
It is best to put the kale into a bowl of ice water right away. That will stop the cooking process and prevent overcooking. Wait for a couple of minutes, and squeeze out the extra water.
Place small clumps of blanched kale on a baking sheet and freeze them that way. Once frozen, take the clumps out of the freezer and transfer them into the freezer bags. Try to push all the air out of each bag before sealing it tight and returning it into your freezer.
Blanched frozen kale can be used in all the dishes that call for cooked kale- you do not even have to thaw it first! Unfortunately, you cannot use it in salads.
When kale is first blanched then frozen, it will stay good for up to a year.
How To Can Kale?
Canning is yet another method you can use to preserve kale when you have more than you can eat in a reasonable time. You will need a pressure canner, though. It is because of the low acidity of kale.
You have two options – using a brining solution or making pickled kale. It is all up to you! If you opt for the latter, you will not need to use the pressure canner. You can simply use a water bath instead.
If you do go for a presser canner method, make sure you follow the instructions to the letter. That will ensure your safety and the safety of your canned kale.
If you do things right, your canned kale will stay good for about a year. Just be sure to store it in a cool and dry place at all times.
How To Tell If Kale Is Bad?
No matter how hard you try to preserve kale or keep it fresh, it will eventually go bad. The fresh leafy batch of kale in your fridge can remain good to eat for up to two weeks max – if properly stored, of course.
Sadly, most of us do not grow kale in our garden. As a result, we never know how long it took for kale to get from the farm to the market or the store or how long it has been there. It is, therefore, best to buy kale from your local farmer’s market. It should last longer than when purchased from the supermarket.
What are the signs that your kale has gone bad?
- It is wilted and has less moisture
- The leaves are no longer dark green – they appear greenish-yellow, or even brown
- Leaves are soggy, and there is liquid leaking from them
- The earthy, green smell is replaced by a sulfurous stench, similar to that of rotten eggs
Now that you know how healthy kale is and how easy it is to keep store it, there is no excuse not to include it in your diet and boost your health!