You Should Always Soak Your Kale In Ice Water. Here's Why

Kale brings a lot to the party when it comes to health benefits. Healthline says it's one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. However, most of us eat kale on the regular just so we can talk to other people about how much kale we eat. A hearty supply of kale in your crisper drawer affords you the ability to feel superior to your friends and family who still can't stomach it. 

Let's be real though: Kale is hard to love. Unless you're blending it up in a smoothie or sautéing it with lots of salty bacon, kale is a tough and bitter thing. It needs assistance, especially if your end-goal is a salad, or any other preparation with little-to-no cook time involved. Raw or lightly-cooked kale can be difficult to chew, and it's so bitter, you may even question putting it in your mouth in the first place. 

Kale needs to be convinced to taste good. The internet lists all manner of methods to improve kale's existence, from massaging, blanching, and simply masking it with other, more palatable flavors. Well, we're here with one more trick that might just resolve your kale woes once and for all.

An ice water bath makes kale less bitter

Kale and other members of the brassica family get their bitter flavor from a class of organic compounds called glucosinolates. Science of Cooking explains these foul-tasting compounds are a necessary factor in kale's ability to fend off certain death from pests and herbivores. So, wait. The whole reason kale tastes bitter is so it can survive for us to eat it? It's really kind of bittersweet when you think about it. Perhaps kale does deserve special treatment to help it taste better. 

Bowl of Delicious says the trick to muting kale's sharp flavor is to soak it in ice water. Not only does this tame some of the bitterness but it also helps deep clean the leaves — a necessary chore when dealing with leafy greens. Bonus: If your greens are wilted, this trick should help revive them, too. Do You Bake agrees, and says to spin the kale in a salad spinner with a paper towel after soaking to ensure they're dry, crisp, and ready to use. There are two tiny steps that need to come before the ice bath though: chopping and washing.

Chop and wash your kale before soaking it in ice water

Let's take a minute to point out the importance of washing kale, even before it goes into the ice water. Leafy greens love to collect dirt, sand, and bugs in all their folds and creases. While a little grit probably won't hurt you, one grain of sand can feel as large as a pebble when it's between your teeth, and can really ruin a meal. Food52 suggests always sending your greens for a turn in the salad spinner before cooking. 

Be sure to chop it first, though! When you chop kale and damage the cell walls, some of those bitter flavor compounds mentioned earlier are released. If you chop your kale before you wash it, and before it soaks in its ice bath, those compounds will be washed away (via Lifehacker). Now that you know how to thoroughly pamper your kale, get your ice water ready, and get cooking.