How To Freeze Kale

Kale is an awesome superfood that freezes really well for use all year-round. Kale has been dubbed the world’s healthiest food because it is super high in vitamins, K, A, and C and easy to eat in smoothies or soup. Below, I’ve included the steps I go through when freezing my annual kale crop.

How to Freeze Kale | Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

I’ve been in seasonal denial for the past 2 weeks, but there is no mistaking it, Fall has made an appearance in Chicago. The end of summer is always a bittersweet time of year because, as the gardening season comes to an end, I begin to can, pickle, dehydrate, and freeze everything I can get my hands on in preparation for the colder months ahead. 

This summer, I may have gone a little overboard by planting three kale plants instead of one because at the moment we’re swimming in kale! I don’t mind though because kale freezes really well and I love to add it to smoothies and winter soups. I was so sad when I used the last of our garden fresh kale last year that I was determined to plant enough to sustain us well into the winter. Hopefully, I have succeeded.

Every year, we plant Lacinato kale (also known as Dinosaur kale or Tuscan kale), but this method will work with any kale variety you have producing in your garden. I do not blanch my kale before freezing, but there are many tutorials out there that claim you should. Last year, I was using unblanched, frozen kale until March and didn’t notice a significant drop in flavor, texture, or color.

How To Blanch 

Before I get into the reasons for blanching, I want to tell you what blanching is in case you do not know. To blanch something, you bring a pot of water to a boil, add your greens/veggies, and boil them for about 3 minutes. Then, you remove them and immediately plunge them into a bowl of ice water (known as an ice bath). This stops the cooking process and keeps your veggies crisp and the colors vibrant. 

To Blanch or Not To Blanch

The main reason for blanching before you freeze something is to preserve color and texture. I haven’t noticed a difference in my kale and usually skip the blanching step to save myself a bit of time.

If you find kale to be bitter, blanching can help remove the bitterness. I don’t think homegrown, fresh kale tastes bitter at all. If you pick it and immediately use it, I find it to be sharp like spinach, but not bitter. 

You may also want to think about how you are going to use your frozen kale in the future. If you are going to be adding a handful to smoothies and the taste will be masked by all of the other things you are adding to the blender, blanching is probably not necessary. But if you will be using it in casseroles or soups and find the taste off-putting, you’ll want to blanch it first. The choice is yours. If you opt to blanch, do it in step 5 below. 

How to Freeze Kale

Step 1: The first thing you want to do is roughly divide your kale by size. You are going to be chopping your kale into ribbons and this will help make sure you have even ribbon pieces.

How to Freeze Kale | cucinakristina.com

Step 2: Next, you want to remove the stalk. Nestle the tip of your knife as close to the stalk as possible and slice the leaves off on each side.

How to Freeze Kale | cucinakristina.com

Step 3: Stack the leaves and roll them from top to bottom. 

How to Freeze Kale | cucinakristina.com

Step 4: Slice your bundle into 1/4 inch rounds. 

How to Freeze Kale | cucinakristina.com

Step 5: Now that you have kale ribbons, wash, blanch (if desired) and dry them. I usually wash them twice to ensure they are free of any dirt or spider webs (yuck!) and dry them in my salad spinner.

How to Freeze Kale | cucinakristina.com

Step 6: When your kale is dry, divide it into freezer bags. I store my kale in gallon freezer bags and grab a handful anytime I want to add some to soups or smoothies. This is obvious, but it will freeze in one giant clump if it is soaking wet when you put it into the bag so make sure it is dry! Squeeze as much of the air out of the bag as you can before sealing and freeze.

Ways to Use Frozen Kale

During the school year, I wake up at 5:30 a.m. and cannot be bothered with cooking myself breakfast before the sunrises. I can barely be bothered to clean the blender after making a smoothie, but somehow I manage. :)  

From September – June, my breakfast 5 days a week consists of a kale, strawberry, coconut, almond milk, and flax seed smoothie and 2 hard boiled eggs. Glamorous? No. Functional and healthy? Yes!

If you aren’t a smoothie person, you could add it to my pot roast stew, my paleo beef pho or use it in one of the recipes below. 

Ways to Use Frozen Kale

Spicy Kale and Coconut Stir Fry – Cookie and Kate

Pistachio Kale Pesto – Edible Perspective

Ways to Use Frozen Kale

Sweet Potato and Kale Hash – Shared Appetite 

Kale, Mushroom, Feta, and Mozzarella Casserole – Kalyn’s Kitchen 

  Ways to Use Frozen Kale

Kale and Acorn Squash Soup – Kim Kim Cooking

Sweet Potato, Kale, and Shrimp Skillet – Primavera Kitchen

Vegetarian Kale Soup – Sandra’s Easy Cooking

Seriously, how delicious do all of those look? Now, I kind of wish I planted 4 kale plants! What are your favorite ways to use frozen kale?

6 Comments on How To Freeze Kale

  1. Frank
    September 20, 2015 at 3:37 pm (2 months ago)

    Thanks, I didn’t really have the nerve to just chiffonade the rest of my lacinato kale like that and just pop them into freezer bags. I’ll try it. Thanks!

    Reply
    • kristina.d.navarro@gmail.com
      September 22, 2015 at 11:56 am (2 months ago)

      I mostly use my frozen kale for smoothies or in soups. In those forms, the taste is masked and color doesn’t make a difference so I found blanching to be an unnecessary step. :)

      Reply
  2. Ralph Anderson
    June 12, 2015 at 9:14 am (5 months ago)

    6 Kale plants. Cook my own soup (low sodium). Use Kale in my lentil soup and pinto bean soup. I will put up a lot of Kale!!

    Reply
    • kristina.d.navarro@gmail.com
      June 14, 2015 at 7:39 am (5 months ago)

      Wow! 6 plants! I have 3 and that yields a lot of kale. I use mine in soups all year-round as well. I love soup. It’s so easy to make, and I love that you can make a bunch of it ahead of time for quick dinners during the week. Happy gardening! :)

      Reply
  3. Sandy
    September 29, 2014 at 3:46 pm (1 year ago)

    I am disturbed how you wrote “July 13, 2014” on one bag and “7/13/2014″…why this inconsistency as to confuse the good reader and make us think too hard??!! (Is that snarky enough for you? lol) Seriously, I enjoy reading your blog…love the writing style!

    Reply
    • kristina.d.navarro@gmail.com
      September 30, 2014 at 7:04 am (1 year ago)

      HAHA! I miss you guys! I’ll look at my school calendar and see when our next day off is and hopefully we can grab lunch! :)

      Reply

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