Produce Spotlight on Kale
Kale is a dark leafy green, related to bok choy, collard greens, and broccoli. It is rich in fiber, minerals, and vitamins A, C, and K. Kale contains antioxidants and may protect against heart disease and some types of cancers.
Shopping for Kale
Look for kale with crisp, dark-colored leaves and firm stems. Avoid yellow and wilted leaves. Massachusetts-grown kale is available mid-June through early December. Kale has a sweeter flavor when harvested after the first frost.
Curly kale – most common variety; tightly ruffled, bright green leaves, fibrous stem, and peppery flavor.
Lacinto kale (dinosaur kale) – long, dark spotted green leaves, flat puckered spears, and tough stems. Slightly sweet and nutty flavor.
Russian red kale – flat, red-tinged green leaves with thick, red-purple fibrous stems. Sweet flavor with a hint of lemon and pepper.
Baby kale – any variety that is harvested very young. Thin stems with tender leaves.
Storage and Preparation
- Place kale in a perforated plastic bag and refrigerate in the produce drawer soon after purchasing. Store up to five days.
- Wash thoroughly in cold water, drain, and dry before eating. Remove the midrib of large leaves. Kale can be blanched, steamed, sautéed, or baked.
- If you have more kale than you can eat in a week, freeze it. Blanche the leaves (cook quickly) 2 to 3 minutes and blot dry with a clean dish towel or paper towel. Place in a labeled and dated freezer-grade bag. Plan to use within one year.
- Use raw, thinly sliced kale in salads or pasta dishes.
- Reduce bitterness and soften leaves by massaging them with oil and salt or place finely cut leaves in an acidic dressing in a container overnight.
- Roast with vegetable or olive oil and seasoning to make kale chips.
- Substitute kale in any recipe that uses spinach or collard greens.
1 pound raw =
3 cups cooked 2 cups raw =
½ cup cooked
Using Locally Grown Produce
For recipes featuring fruits and vegetables, visit our website https://extension.umass.edu/ nutrition/recipes/. To locate places to buy local produce, visit https://www.mass.gov/orgs/ massachusetts-grownand-fresher.