Not long ago, I took on a new challenge, food preservation. With mass amounts of kale coming in from the garden, there is only so much kale one can take at a time. Even after countless batches of kale chips, soup, and giveaways to my sister and mom, we were barely keeping up with the harvest. It was time to gain ground and assure we would have kale to eat months from now. Needless to say, preserving kale quickly climbed to the top of the chore list.
As much as I wasn’t looking forward to the hard work ahead, I was smiling ear to ear while I picked bowl full after bowl full of kale. Preserving healthy, safe, and homegrown food for my family is what I have dreamed of.
I am going to be straight forward with you (I don’t know how to be any other way). While I was under the impression freezing kale would be somewhat tedious, I did not think it would take hours upon hours. It is and it does, but it’s worth every minute.
To preserve kale for long term storage (8-12 months), here is my method:
Trimming- Fold the kale leaf in half and run a pairing knife along side the stem. In a clean sink, I threw the stems and undesirable pieces in one side (to be composted) and the trimmed kale leaves in another.
Cleaning and Chopping- Once all the stems were removed and leaves were in the sink, I filled it with water to ‘wash’ the dirt (and a few bugs if yours are straight from the garden like ours) off. Under running water, I tore the leaves while inspecting for more bugs. (This really got my mind turning about what all chemicals and processes factories use to clean their kale.)
Blanching- In a large pot, boil water then drop the trimmed kale leaves into boiling water. Cover and blanch the leaves for 2 ½ minutes. Time starts as soon as they touch the water, so you want to be careful not to over cook them.
Chilling- Using a slotted spoon or tongs transfer the kale to a large bowl of ice water and chill for 2 ½ – 3 minutes.
Drying- Line a baking sheet or something similar with hand towels. Transfer the blanched kale to the baking sheets. As you transfer the kale, squeeze all the excess water out and separate the clumped kale as you lay it out on the baking sheets. Using another towel, press on the sprawled kale to absorb excess water. It doesn’t have to be completely dry before freezing. That’s good news because this is the hardest part.
Storing- I placed my kale in a plastic container and labeled it with the date. (In the future I’d like to move to all glass containers.) If you have plastic freezer safe bags, those might be your first go-to.
Sounds like it will be done in no time, right? I’m not sure if it was because I’m a newbie or the fact that I had so much kale that I just kept everything in a rotation, but I was at this for hours.
Going into the summer our kale is still flourishing and showing no signs of slowing down. I’m thinking that as I go through this process a few more times I might develop a quicker method. On the chance I don’t, I will still smile with the thought of what this well spent time means for me and mine. I love the feeling of having a surplus of healthy food ready anytime.