Can You Put Kale In The Freezer?

There was a time, not too long ago, when kale enjoyed a moment in the spotlight. From 2007 and on, it seemed like you couldn't open a menu or enter a juice bar without encountering the leafy green. While still popular, it seems that kale's popularity has fallen back to levels commensurate with, you know, other vegetables. As for us, we were kale fans then and we remain kale fans now, which sometimes lands us in the predicament of having too much kale and too little fridge space. So we got to wondering: can you freeze kale? And if so, what's the best way?

According to the folks at Real Simple, you definitely can — and should — freeze kale if you've got too many bunches and don't want them to go bad. Just note that freezing and thawing the green will definitely change kale's texture. This is a method you'll want to employ for soups and stews later on, not fresh bouncy salads.

How to prep kale for freezing

Kale needs to be prepped before it is frozen. First, wash and dry your kale, stripping away any thick stems, which Real Simple notes you can compost or chop up and freeze separately to add to long-cooking dishes. For Real Simple's method of "quick-freezing," you don't have to blanch the kale — more on that later. Just use your hands to tear the leaves into manageable pieces, or do a rough chop with a knife. Spread the kale out on a baking sheet in the freezer, then, when it's fully frozen, transfer it to freezer bags. 

Quick-frozen kale will last in the freezer about four to six weeks, per HGTV, and you can just grab it by the handful to toss into a smoothie or into a soup or stew. But if you want to enjoy frozen kale many months later, HGTV explains you will have to blanch it first, as unblanched kale will develop a bitter flavor over time — even in the freezer. That's because ripening enzymes in the leaves continue to be active, albeit slowed down due to the cold. Blanching cuts that process off entirely, allowing frozen kale to remain nice and sweet for eight to 12 months.

Blanch kale for a longer-lasting freeze

To blanch kale for freezing, according to HGTV, bring a pot of water to the boil and toss in chopped leaves and stems separately. Add the stems first, which take three minutes to blanch, then the leaves, which take two-and-a-half minutes. Using a strainer or slotted spoon, transfer all the kale to an ice bath for three minutes, then drain the kale and transfer it to a kitchen towel. Squeeze and massage the kale with the towel, removing all excess water, then measure out little portions of the vegetable, forming the greens into small pucks. Place the pucks on a baking sheet in the freezer; when they're fully frozen, transfer them to freezer bags, squeezing all the air out as you seal them — HGTV recommends a vacuum sealer, if you have one. Voila! Even as vegetable trends come and go, you'll have frozen kale that will last and last. Zuppa Toscana, anyone?