Can You freeze Kale?

Q. My garden is overflowing with kale.  There’s too much for me to eat, but I don’t want it to go to waste.  Can you freeze kale?

A. Yes, you can. Kale, like many other vegetables, is best blanched before freezing to preserve the integrity and colour of the leaf.  Before freezing, pick over the kale, discarding any leaves that are damaged or not one hundred percent fresh.  Cut away any part of the large stem that you don’t want to eat by folding the leaf in half and running a knife along the edge. Kale leaves can be blanched and frozen whole or you can chop them into smaller pieces.

To blanch kale, you will need a large pot of boiling water, one or two large bowls of ice water, with extra ice set aside, and a slotted spoon.  Set pot of water to boil before moving on to the next step.

When kale is prepared, wash in water and drain off excess.  Blanch the leaves in batches, placing leaves in the boiling water. Place the lid on the pot to cover. Leave the kale to boil for about three minutes. The kale leaves should turn a brighter green. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon, draining the kale.  Immediately plunge the leaves into the ice water to stop the cooking process. Leave kale in water until cool, adding more ice as necessary.  Remove kale from ice water and drain. Lay kale to dry on paper towels or kitchen towel, gently pressing on top to absorb excess water. Repeat the process if freezing multiple batches of kale.  The boiling water can be reused, but the ice water will have to be replenished for each new batch.

To freeze, place kale in a freezer bag. To avoid clumping, lay kale on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer until kale leaves are hard before placing in freezer bags. Label the kale and write the date frozen on a bag with a permanent marker.  Kale should last about a year in the freezer. Flatten the bag to allow for better storage, and smooth over to expel excess air.  Seal the bag completely and store in the freezer on its side, bags stacked on top of one another.

To use frozen kale, remove a bag from the freezer and place in the refrigerator to thaw for several hours or overnight.  Frozen kale can be added to soups or stews from frozen, as the hot water will defrost it automatically.

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