One great way to preserve kale for later use is to freeze it. This way, you can also get healthy, fresh vegetables when the kale is out of season. Before freezing, kale must be cleaned and blanched first so that the taste can last longer. Not only that, if you freeze the kale in separate portions, you can take it out of the freezer in as many quantities as needed.
Method 1 of 3: Cleaning and Blanching Kale
Step 1. Prepare the equipment
To freeze kale, you'll first need to clean, chop, blanch, and shock it (immerse the vegetables in ice water) to retain their flavor when frozen. To do this, you'll need an appropriate amount of kale, and some of the following kitchen utensils:
- Big pan
- Big bowl
- Clean kitchen towels
- slotted spoon
Step 2. Wash and chop kale
Wash kale under running water to remove dirt, bugs, and other debris. Place kale on a clean towel to remove excess water. Cut the base of the stem, then cut the stem into small pieces about 2.5 cm in size, and set aside. You can leave the leaves whole, cut them into small pieces, or cut them in half for storage.
- The stems contain a lot of nutrients, but can make the kale tough. If you wish, you can chop it before freezing the kale.
- To remove kale stems, cut off the underside of the stem that has no leaves, then pull the leaves away from the center of the stem and extend from the base to the tip of the leaf.
- Cleaning kale before freezing will make it easier and more convenient for you when you need it later.
Step 3. Prepare the water
Blanching is a two-step process that involves boiling the kale for a few minutes, then submerging it in ice water. Perform the following steps to prepare the water:
- Put water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium to high heat.
- Place ice and water (in equal proportions) in a large bowl.
- Have a sieve nearby to remove excess water from the leaves.
Step 4. Boil the kale stalks
When the water is boiling, add the kale stalks and boil for 3 minutes. The stems of kale are tougher and thicker, so they have to be boiled for a longer time than the leaves.
- By boiling the stems and leaves separately, the stems can be fully cooked and the leaves are not overripe.
- If you don't want to include the stems of the kale or want to use it for something else, go straight to the process of blanching the leaves.
Step 5. Boil the kale leaves
Use tongs to dip the kale leaves into the boiling water. Add as much kale to the pot as possible, but not too tightly. Boil the kale leaves for about 2.5 minutes.
- If you are handling a lot of kale in more than one pot, separate the kale into sections for individual blanching. Wait for the water to come back to a boil before adding the new kale.
- By blanching, you will kill bacteria and enzymes that can damage the taste, color, and nutrients in the kale. This allows you to store kale for a longer time.
Step 6. Surprise the kale leaves by submerging them in ice water
Take the kale out of the hot water using a slotted spoon. Immediately put the vegetables in the ice water to stop the ripening process. Let the kale soak in there for about 2.5 minutes (same as boiling time).
- If you're handling multiple kale batches, add more ice when you're done chilling one kale batch.
- Surprising the vegetables by submerging them in ice water will retain their bright green color, and prevent the kale from overcooking.
Step 7. Drain the kale to remove the water
Use a slotted spoon to scoop the kale out of the ice water. Transfer the vegetables to a colander and let the water drain. Shake the filter regularly to remove any remaining water.
- Lay out two clean kitchen towels on a flat surface. When most of the water that has stuck to the kale is gone, spread the vegetables out on a kitchen towel.
- Use another towel if you have to dry a lot of kale.
- Set aside the kale to finish drying. The drier the kale is when frozen, the fewer ice crystals will form, and the longer the kale can survive freezer burn.
- Drying the kale is especially important if you want to freeze the kale whole. However, this is not necessary if you want to freeze the kale in pureed form.
Method 2 of 3: Freeze Kale Whole
Step 1. Divide the kale into portions
This can be done according to taste or the type of recipe you want to make. For example, if you plan to make a smoothie and only need one cup of kale, measure out one cup (70 grams) of kale for each serving.
At this point, you can also chop the kale into smaller pieces if you know it will be easier to use it at this size
Step 2. Put the kale in a plastic bag
Place the kale, which has been divided into desired portions, in a freezer-safe ziploc plastic bag. Remove as much air as possible, then seal the bag tightly. To remove any remaining air, insert a straw into the bag flap and suck in the air. After that, take a straw and close the bag quickly.
- Air and humidity are the two main factors for freezer burn. Freezing the dried kale and removing all the air from the ziploc plastic bag will prevent freezer burn.
- If you have one, you can also use a food-only air purifier. This tool is ideal for removing air from plastic bags.
Step 3. Label the plastic bag
Use a marker to write down the amount of kale in each plastic bag and the date it was frozen. This is very useful so you know how long the kale has been in the freezer and when to use it. You can also find out the number of servings of kale in each bag.
This labeling is very important. Even if you remember the amount of kale in each bag right now, ten months later you may have forgotten when you wanted to use it
Step 4. Put the plastic bag in the freezer
Place the plastic bag containing the labeled kale in the freezer. By blanching it, shocking it in ice water, and storing it properly, you can store kale for up to a year.
If you want to use kale, remove the vegetables from the freezer in the desired portion and use them in cooking immediately. You can also defrost it for an hour before cutting it
Method 3 of 3: Freezing Kale in Porridge
Step 1. Puree the kale in a blender
Cut the kale into quarters and put a few handfuls in the blender. Take 1 cup (250 ml) of water and sprinkle some water over the kale. Turn on the blender and run the blender blade a few times to roughly crush the kale. Add a few handfuls of kale and a little more water. Repeat the process until all of the kale turns to mush, using up to one cup of the water you have prepared (if necessary).
- You can mash the kale raw, or blanch and soak it in ice water first. Make sure the kale is clean.
- Frozen kale porridge is perfect for adding to soups, smoothies, and other dishes without showing the kale.
- This method is not suitable for salads, kale chips, and other similar dishes because they are not fully formed.
Step 2. Pour the kale pulp into the mould
To make it easier for you to use kale, place the kale pulp evenly into the container to make ice cubes, muffin trays, or mini muffin trays. Place the container in the freezer and let the kale freeze (about 3 hours).
If you want to freeze a portion of kale pulp, use a measuring cup to measure it before you pour it into the mold
Step 3. Remove the kale from the mould
Once frozen, remove the kale pulp from the ice cube tray or muffin tray and transfer to a plastic ziploc bag. This way, the ice cube containers can be used for other things, and you can store frozen porridge more easily.
- To prevent freezer burn, remove as much air as possible in the plastic bag before you close it.
- Put the plastic bag in the freezer. You can store this kale pulp for up to a few months.