I have Curly, Lacinato, Rainbow Lacinato, and Red Russian Kale varieties growing in our garden. There are aproximately 8 plants each of the 4 varieties for a total of 32 producing plants. The two of us could probably get by with only 8 kale plants for our needs, but it is my best seller at the Lawn to Food Urban Farmstand. Our excess garden kale is gathered up into bunches and then I sell it for $2 each to the neighbourhood. The vegetable dollars are used to purchase family food items that we can’t grow for ourselves such as coffee, flour or a side of pork.
Even though we have steamed kale at least once a week as a side vegetable, I also use 3 leaves a day in our other meals. By adding it into coleslaws, salads, shreds for soup topping, as kale chips, in smoothies or with breakfast eggs, we are consuming more healthy greens without really noticing. I’ve also been known to add kale to lasagna, meatballs, and savory muffins.
Even with our high consumption and high sales of kale, the garden overflows with it at the height of summer. Some of the mature plants are huge, but looking tired and ready to go to seed. To keep our supply coming, I’ve planted new seedlings for winter harvests and cut down some of the older plants before they go beyond their prime. The pile of Lacinato kale plants that I removed from the garden, ended up on our coffee table, for me to prepare while I watched a Netflix episode.
Dull and damaged leaves went straight into the compost bin along with the tough stalk part of the leaves. Kale greens are easy to separate from the woody rib, by holding the base and then striping the greens away from you. Within minutes, I had this large pile of kale sorted and ready for washing.
I carefully washed the kale, looking for gray aphids on the underside of the leaves. Once they were rinsed, I left the pile of kale on a towel-covered kitchen counter, to drain and dry overnight. The next morning, I stuffed all of the kale into my food dehydrator on 3 racks. It was hard to believe that it ALL fit in there, but when I say I stuffed it, I really did! I set the dehydrator to 115F and carried on with my day.
That evening, about 14 hours later, I checked on the progrees of the dehydrating kale and it was perfectly crisp. Every leaf was a brilliant dark green colour and ready to crumble in my fingers.
I carefully moved the dried kale to my blender to whiz it into a fine powder. I did this in 3 little batches and then stored the kale powder in an air tight jar. This kale powder is an intense concentration of nutrients. Half of a teaspoon will be plenty in winter smoothies when we don’t feel like venturing outside for frozen greens. It is amazing that that huge arm full of kale was reduced into half a quart of powder! Dehydrating certainly is THE space saving way to store food!