Kale - our vegetable of the month for March

 
 


Kale earned its super food status due to the many different nutrients it contains, in high proportions compared to its caloric content. These include vitamins A, B, C, E & K as well as manganese, copper, fibre, calcium, potassium, iron, & phytochemicals.

Vegetable Origins & Varieties

Kale: Brassica oleracea. Acephela Group. Cruciferae
Kale is a cabbage without a heart (poor thing!) It is either flat or curly leaved. Healthy, health giving and hardy beyond belief. It was the staple of the northern European peasant’s diet – in Holland its name is boerenkool (peasants’ cabbage), kale soup is a traditional Highland dish. The name kale derives from ‘coles’ or ‘caulis’ used by the Greeks and Romans to describe cabbages. The German kohl has the same origin.
These days you can grow a range of coloured leaves from juicy green to stunning red, you can even grow varieties with tri-coloured leaves. In the Skip garden we like to grow the Italian kale cavolo nero (black cabbage), It’s an extremely good variety to grow if you’ve not got much space as you can continue to harvest the lower leaves over a long period. We’ve grown them in the Skip garden to over a metre tall – which makes them look like miniature palm trees.

Growing tips & Harvesting

Sow in spring for summer harvesting and late spring / early summer for winter crops. They are number two in the three bed crop rotation system, coming after the legumes (peas & beans) and before root crops. They prefer a ‘sweet bed’ (as the old gardeners used to say) that means that they like an alkaline soil (7pH - 8.5pH) so dusting the soil with garden lime wouldn’t go amiss. 

Storing & Preparation

Once harvested kale should be kept in a perforated bag in the fridge & used within a few days.
Wash kale under cold water and chop into bite sized pieces. You can use the stalks but may want them chopped up a bit smaller. Massaging with a little salt or lemon juice helps to soften the kale and it can be used raw.
Kale can take as little as five minutes to steam or boil, put to ten minutes pan fried. With a hood blender delicious smoothies can also be prepared.

My favourite Recipes

Kale crisps
2 cups kale
Salt
Bake in an oven at 130 degree C for 15 minutes or until just enforce it starts to turn brown.
These can be added as a garnish to salads, soups & stews, or just enjoyed as a snack

Green juice
kale, handful or two
1 apple
1 celery stick
1/2 cucumber
spinach, handful
parsley, small bunch
First place the kale in the juicer followed by the other ingredients.
Best enjoyed immediately or stored, covered in the fridge for a day or two.

Final words

Kale is delicious baked, steamed, stir fried or boiled, but is thought to maintain its highest nutritional value when steamed. It works well with other strong flavours such as tamari and peanuts, or can be used to add colour to tarts & quiches. 

Brussels sprout, mushroom & kale salad with nasturtium flowers

Brussels sprout, mushroom & kale salad with nasturtium flowers