A reader recently asked if I froze the kale I used in a previous post for Chinese-style Kale with Tofu. Yes, I did, using kale harvested in late November right before I knew that the real snow was coming, was not likely to melt again, which finally put an end to our gardening for 2008.
Here is what I did to freeze kale:
• Put on a big pot of water to boil.
• Wash kale in sink of water then drain in a second sink or on a towel on the counter top.
• Tear or cut into 2 inch strips or manageable sizes (I did not freeze the big thick stems from the curly kale but smaller stems are ok).
• Fill sink with clean cold water, including as many ice cubes as you have on hand.
• Place the cut kale in boiling water and boil for 3 minutes.
• Take kale out of pot with tongs, a colander, and/or slotted spoon.
• Put hot kale in cold water and swish around.
• Take kale out of water.
• Drain any excess water off greens (save for future soup broth!).
• Measure either 2 cups or 4 cups and place into freezer bags.
• Mark freezer bag with date and type of greens.
• Press any excess air out of bag and freeze.
I also did this exact procedure to freeze lamb's quarters (a very healthy and delicious weed!) in the spring. You can see from these photos that a huge bowl of cut or torn kale turns into 2 full quart bags of frozen kale. I expect to use this kale later this winter, either as yummy braised kale with many variety of seasonings or as an addition to soups, stews, stir-fry, filling for quesadillas, adding to frittatas, toppings for baked potatoes, etc, etc.
I have read on the web plus heard from the owners of Tantré Farm, a local farm and CSA, that blanching the kale is not necessary. Next spring when kale initially grows in abundance, I will try mincing some of the kale into very small pieces (small enough to add to hummus, or make into kale balls as just two ideas) and simply freeze these small pieces in a zip-lock bag while fresh. That way I can experiment and compare using frozen kale done by two different methods to decide which to do when I do the bulk of the kale freezing next fall.
One of my "tricks" as a long-term cancer survivor has been to always have future events to plan and/or look forward to. Now I am looking forward to two things: (1) spring to see which of our kale plants make it through a Michigan winter and give us an early gift of spring food without the work of planting and waiting with the ultimate gift of free seeds to start all over again, and (2) comparing the eating from two methods of freezing kale!
Where kale is more than decoration on my plate!
Diana Dyer, MS, RD