Advertisement

Kale

kale
The leaves of the Redbar
variety of kale are purple.

Kale is considered to be the most robust of the cabbage family. Its high nutritional value and intense flavor make an important ingredient in many vegetable recipes. In this article, we'll talk about growing kale, selecting and serving kale, and the health benefits of kale.

About Kale


Kale, a member of the cabbage family, is a hardy biennial that is grown as an annual. Scotch kale has gray-green leaves that are crumpled and curled. Siberian, or blue, kale is usually less curly.

Common Name: Kale
Scientific Name: Brassica oleracea; Acephala Group
Hardiness:
Very Hardy (will survive first frost)

In the next section, we'll show you how to grow kale.

Want more information about kale?
Try:

Advertisement

Advertisement

Kale is a cool-weather crop that grows best in fall. It will last through the winter as far north as Maryland and central Indiana. Frost even improves the flavor. Kale doesn't tolerate the heat as well as collards. If your area has cold winters, plant for summer to early fall harvest. In the South, plant for harvest in late fall or winter.

kale
Brian Reed
Kale grows best in fertile, well-drained soil.

Plant kale from transplants early in the spring, and again in the midsummer if your summers aren't too hot. Kale likes fertile, well-drained soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5. Plant transplants that are four to six weeks old. If the transplants are leggy or the stems are crooked, plant deeply so they don't become top-heavy. Plant transplants 8 to 12 inches apart. If you're planting seeds, set them 1/2 inch deep; thin them to 12 inches apart.

Harvesting Kale

The time from planting to harvest is 55 days from transplants, 70 to 80 days from seed. Leave kale in the garden until needed, but harvest before it gets old and tough. As the plant matures, take outside leaves, leaving the inner ones to grow. Or, cut off the entire plant.

Types of Kale

There are several varieties of kale to choose from when considering which to grow in your home garden.
We've listed the different varieties of kale below.
  • Dwarf Blue Curled Vates, harvest at 55 days, produces short-stemmed plants with finely curled, bluish-green leaves.
  • Dwarf Siberian Curled, harvest at 65 days, has upright gray-green leaves.
  • Winterbar, harvest at 65 days, is frilly, bluegreen, and tasty.
  • Redbar is similar but purple.
Keep reading to learn how to select and prepare kale.

Want more information about kale? Try:

Advertisement

Advertisement

Kale looks like a darker green version of collards, but with frills. It also has a stronger flavor and a somewhat coarser texture. The smaller leaves are more tender and the flavor is more mild, but it grows stronger the longer it is stored. So unless you actually prefer a strong taste, use kale within a day or two of buying it. Wrap fresh kale in damp paper towels, and store it in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.

chicken with kale stuffing
Kale is an ingredient in the
chicken with kale stuffing recipe.

Tips for Preparing and Serving Kale

Wash kale thoroughly before cooking, as it often has dirt and sand in its leaves. Hearty kale stands up well to cooking, so just about any method will do. But keep cooking time to a minimum to preserve nutrients and to keep kale's strong odor from permeating the kitchen. Simmer the greens in a well-seasoned stock for 10 to 30 minutes, until tender. Don't forget that most greens cook down a great deal. One pound of raw kale yields only about a half cup of cooked. Kale also works well in stir-fries, soups, and stews.

Keep reading to learn about the many health benefits of kale.

Want more information about kale? Try:

Advertisement

Advertisement

Kale is king. Along with broccoli, it is one of the nutrition stand-outs among vegetables. It fights fat through its ability to mingle in a variety of roles -- in side dishes, combined in main dishes, or in salads.

smoky kale chiffonade
Kale is the main ingredient in
the
smoky kale chiffonade recipe.

For a green, kale is unusually high in fiber. This helps create the bulk you need to fill you up and to keep you full for a good amount of time. Kale is also an excellent source of nutrients, especially vitamin A and calcium. With a combination of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, kale is a dieter's dream food.

Health Benefits of Kale

Though greens in general are nutritious foods, kale stands a head above the rest. Not only is it one of your best sources of beta-carotene, one of the antioxidants believed by many nutrition experts to be a major player in the battle against cancer, heart disease, and certain age-related chronic diseases, it also provides other important nutrients.

In addition to beta-carotene, kale posses other important carotenoids: lutein and zeaxathin. These carotenoids help keep UV rays from damaging the eyes and causing cataracts.

According to recent research results, kale is an incredible source of well-absorbed calcium, which is one of the many factors that may help prevent osteoporosis. It also provides decent amounts of vitamin C, folic acid, vitamin B6, manganese, and potassium.

The manganese in kale helps your body's own antioxidant defense system, superoxide dismutase, protecting you from damaging free radicals. Its folate and B6 team up to keep homocysteine levels down, which may help prevent heart disease, dementia, and osteoporosis bone fractures.

Nutritional Values of Cooked Kale
Serving Size: 1/2 cup
Calories 18
Fat 0 g
Saturated Fat
0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Carbohydrate 4 g
Protein 1 g
Dietary Fiber 1 g
Sodium
15 mg
Vitamin A
8,854 IU
Folic Acid 9 micrograms
Vitamin C 27 mg
Calcium 47 mg
Magnesium 15 mg
Potassium 148 mg
Carotenoids 17,172 micrograms

Want more information about kale? Try:
  • Vegetable Recipes: Find delicious recipes that feature kale.
  • Nutrition: Find out how kale fits in with your overall nutrition plans.
  • Vegetable Gardens: Grow a full harvest of great vegetables this year.
  • Gardening: We answer your questions about all things that come from the garden.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement


Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement