The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

The Unbearable Lightness of Freezing Kale

July 20th, 2010 · 10 Comments · Posted in garden

Tuscan kale, or lacinato, our favorite

Tuscan kale, or lacinato, our favorite

Suddenly, our garden runneth over.

We’ve reached that point where the garden is producing more than we can eat. It’s time to start putting food by.

I start with the Tuscan kale, a vegetable I particularly like for a variety of reasons. With its long, grayish-blue leaves, deeply etched, it makes a great show in the garden. It looks almost like a little palm tree as it grows tall. And it’s built like a tank. Nothing seems to bother it, not heat nor drought nor pests. Although about this time it starts attacking lots of white flies, which leave a kind of scum on the underside of the leaves.

But I digress. My real purpose yesterday was to harvest a bunch of kale and freeze it, since we couldn’t possible eat it all. I arm myself with a pair of kitchen scissors and begin cutting individual leaves, especially where the kale plants have been shading the cucumbers I’m trying to grow at the rear of the vegetable bed. I collect a big bowl full and return to the kitchen.

The process for freezing is simple. The kale is simply blanched for two minutes in a big pot of boiling water for two minutes, then chilled in cold water and drained in a colander. The finished kale is so reduced from its original size, it fills only a small portion of a plastic storage bag.

But first I clean the leaves in the kitchen sink and trim away the thick vein that runs up the middle of each leaf. This is kitchen meditation time, standing at a cutting board, trimming leaf after leaf. I use the tip of a sharp knife to cut on either side of the vein, up one side, then the other. Then shop the leaf into pieces. Leaf after leaf. It takes me maybe half an hour, 30 minutes of blissful mindlessness.

Would you call this work, or simply becoming one with your kale?

Leave a Comment

Please note: Your comment may have to wait for approval to be published to ensure that we don't accidentally publish "spam". We thank you for understanding.


  • Wendy (The Local Cook)

    Yum! Next year I hope to grow more kale. Funny, I went from not knowing what to do with it, thinking I received way too much in my CSA, to not having enough.

    I have also frozen it using the quick stir fry method – no boiling water pot needed 🙂

  • sarah

    A few weeks ago I became one with my CSA kale. You’re right, some people might think of it as work but for me it is quite relaxing.

  • keri

    we had that same kale last year, but we called it dinosaur kale because it was so hardy. I had it growing in my community plot, but it was shading some other things, so one day i just pulled up by the root, walked it home in the hot sun and transplanted it into my home garden. It had wilted a bit, but within 3 days it was bigger than ever. When all was said and done, it was almost as tall as me and we ate it well past Christmas.

    As far as prepping it, I find it to be a very zen practice, as well as whenever I prep any vegetable.

    “When you cut the carrots, cut the carrots.” You can’t get more zen than that. Completely mindful and packed with the joy of living exactly in the moment.

  • Meg Wolff

    I like your comment/question, Ed, “Would you call this work, or simply becoming one with your kale?” I think the later! Love ypur photo, too.

    This year I’m growing my own kale. When my nephew bought the seedings from the farm a few months back, they said, “You’re probably buying too much.” Not so! We eat a couple bunches or more a day, so it wasn’t a problem. Wish we had more!

    It’s nice to know that you can blanch and freeze it though (for next year when I convert ALL my grass to garden!

  • Nat West

    Ed, can’t you grow kale year-round in DC? That’s common here west of the Cascades. With two or three plantings, you could be in fresh kale all year, even when it’s snowing outside. I had kale survive under about 18″ of snow last year.

  • Viki

    Yum! I Love kale. Haven’t raised any myself and just tried that variety last week. Loved it.
    How do you usually cook with your Kale?
    I like mine with beans and pasta, sauted with garlic, and strangely enough in a smoothie.
    Sounds strange, but it is a great way to get a few more fruits and a lot more greens into your day.

  • espringf

    Your lacinato is “built like a tank”? I’m jealous! It is by far the most insect-attractive kale I grow…often nothing is left but veins by the time the leaves are big enough to harvest.

  • Ed Bruske

    Emily, I’m a big believer in planting what works best in local conditions. So maybe I should say this kale is built like a tank for conditions in the District of Columbia. I noticed long ago that it seemed to be still standing tall when many of our other plants had given up the ghost.


    Is kale best frozen fresh or cooked?

  • Daisy

    Wendy the Local Cook, what do you mean by using the quick stir fry method instead of blanching? I would like to try that. More detail?