Blanche Kale Before Cooking or Freezing
Kale is one of the best leafy greens of the colder season. Just remember to blanche kale before you use it for your winter cooking. This is how!
When the cold starts to creep in, I feel so lucky to have a few kale plants in my garden. If you are even luckier than me, you might have more than just a few and can afford the luxury of freezing some kale too! Frozen kale can be used in many dishes, for example as a substitute for both spinach and chard. It's delicious in soups, pies, lasagna, creamed, and stir-fried.
You can freeze your kale fresh without any other preparation then simply harvesting your kale, tearing the leaves off the stem and midrib and then just putting them in a bag or jar in the freezer. But I think that frozen kale, like many other leafy greens, taste the best if you boil it quickly before you freeze it. This is called blanching. I prefer to blanche kale rather than freeze it fresh.
Blanching is often done before cooking certain dishes using leafy greens like kale, spinach and chard. If you look at some recipes, it often says that the leaves should be blanched before you add them to your dish.
Why should I blanch the kale?
Blanching vegetables (can also be done with meat, for example) simply means giving the produce a quick boil. Before cooking, leaves are often blanched to make the texture softer, to make them easier to finely chop, or to round out the flavor.
Some vegetables become particularly tough and get an unappetizing texture if they are frozen fresh. I also think that the taste improves after a quick boil before you freeze. It's hard to describe exactly how the unblanched frozen leaves taste. Some things just taste... like the freezer. Or, a bit like cold grass or similar.
How to blanche kale
- Pick the leaves and remove the leaf parts from the midrib.
- Rinse the leaves in water.
- Place the leaves in a large pot with boiling water and a little salt.
- Let them boil for 1-2 minutes.
- Rinse the leaves in cold water to stop the cooking process.
- Squeeze out the water.
You can harvest and blanche kale any time, even if it's winter. Just snap off the leaves and let them thaw somewhere cool. After that, follow the instructions above and blanche your own kale for your cooking today, or to store in the freezer.
Other types of kale and similar cabbage leaves can also be blanched and frozen. For example, black kale, purple kale and broccoli leaves.
Good luck with your blanched kale!