Kale is one of those superfoods that is packed with healthy nutrients. It is low in calories and rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
This leafy vegetable is commonly enjoyed raw and cooked. It has become a part of regular diets for many people worldwide. However, the preparation is quite tedious and time-consuming.
While refrigeration only keeps kale fresh for a few days, freezing significantly increases its shelf life. How do you freeze kale?
That’s a question asked by many. Keep reading to find useful tips on freezing kale, using frozen and thawed kale, and everything in between.
How To Freeze Kale
Kale is a versatile leafy green that can be added to smoothies and many other recipes. Freezing kale is not only useful to prolong its shelf life, but also saves time for preparation.
Frozen kale is definitely a must-have if you’re often in a rush.
You can prepare kale in a big batch and freeze it for later use. This way, you don’t need to wash, cut, and cook it every now and then. Frozen kale is ready to use once you take it out of the freezer.
It is worth noting that raw kale and other vegetables don’t freeze well. It means you need to cook or blanch them before freezing.
Blanching inactivates enzymes responsible for the loss of color, flavor, and texture. Therefore, blanching is an essential step for freezing vegetables.
Follow the steps below to learn how to store kale by freezing it properly.
1. Preparing the kale
Select only fresh kale to freeze. Remove any wilted, discolored, or mushy leaves.
Wash kale under running water, remove any dirt and other debris. Having cleaned kale means you can process the vegetable as soon as you take it out from the freezer.
Dry the leaves completely and remove any excess water. Finally, remove the stem (optional) and slice up the stems and leaves.
2. Blanching the kale
This step is crucial to preserve the color, texture, and flavor during freezing. So, it is vital to do it correctly.
To blanch kale, let’s start with preparing two big pots. Fill one pot with water and bring to boil. Fill the other one with ice and cold water.
Boil the stems and leaves separately. Boiling the stems takes a little longer than the leaves since the stems are tougher.
Boil the sliced stems and leaves for three and two minutes, respectively. Make sure they are completely submerged in the water. Use a timer to ensure that you don’t under- or overcook the vegetables.
Next, remove the kale from boiling water and plunge it into the ice bath. Submerge for 2 to 3 minutes.
Drain the kale in a colander and remove excess water. Lay the leaves on a tray or flat surface and use a kitchen towel to dry them. Set aside for a while to let the leaves completely dry.
3. Freezing for long term
Divide the prepared kale into a single meal portion. Whenever you need it, you can just take one bag, instead of thawing a whole big package.
Pack the leaves into a freezer bag or a zip lock bag.
If you only need a small amount at a time, you can also freeze it in ice cube trays. Press the leaves into ice cube trays and freeze for a few hours. Once frozen, take the cubes and pack them into a freezer bag.
Squeeze as much air as possible from the bag and seal it tightly. Use a vacuum sealer if you have one.
Label the bag with a freezing date and the amount. Place the bag in the freezer for long term storage.
Check the freezer occasionally. Set the temperature to 0 °F (−18 °C) or lower.
How To Use Frozen Kale
Frozen kale is convenient to work with. Following the steps above on how to freeze kale, you will have frozen kale ready to use anytime. Here are just some ideas on using frozen kale:
– add to your green smoothies
– use in stir-fries, stew, soup, quiche
– add to pasta dishes and scrambled eggs
– on top of pizzas
– as a substitute for recipes calling for other leafy greens, such as spinach, collard green, Swiss chards, etc.
How To Defrost Frozen Kale
To thaw frozen kale, you can easily place the package in the refrigerator. Depending on the quantity, it may take a while to completely thaw it.
You can use frozen kale for some recipes as is—no need to thaw it for making healthy smoothies. In many cooked dishes, you can also throw it frozen into the pan.
How Long Can You Freeze Kale?
Frozen kale preserves its quality for up to 8 to 12 months. After that, the frozen veggie may remain safe to use with more pronounced changes in color, texture, and flavor.
The longer the freezing time, the higher the risk of freezer burn. So, use your frozen kale supply while still fresh.
Raw kale is usually good for 5 to 7 days in the fridge, while cooked kale lasts for 3 to 5 days. Do not wash raw kale until it is ready to use.
Yes, you can freeze dishes prepared with kale. That’s easy. Place them in a freezer-safe container, leave a headspace, and freeze for later use. Other ingredients may affect how long you can keep the dishes frozen.
Raw kale contains goitrin, a chemical compound that can interfere with thyroid function. Cooking deactivates the enzyme responsible for releasing goitrin. It is recommended to cook kale if you have thyroid problems. However, only an excessive intake of more than 2.2 pounds (1 kg) per day in the long term may cause health problems in healthy adults. (*)
Freezing kale extends its shelf life while retaining its nutritional values. Make sure to prepare and freeze it properly and use it within the recommended time. (*)
Freezing is a great way to preserve kale and other vegetables at home. Keep in mind that you need to cook or blanch kale before freezing.
Blanching is essential to help maintain its color, texture, and flavor. Frozen kale is best to use within 8 to 12 months, after which it starts to decrease in quality.
Now, you know that freezing kale is incredibly easy. You can have this superfood ready on the go anytime you need it!
Up next: How to Freeze Celery
*Image by depositphotos.com/dian4ikn.gmail.com