We mostly grow the green curly kale as we find that to be the most widely known and popular variety, though some years we also have red kale and red russian kale also, especially as baby kale. We don’t grow lacinato kale as we find it a favourite of the flea beetle and cabbage looper. All of our kale is grown under row cover. For the most part, this is enough to protect it, but in cabbage looper season we occasionally have to spray with BtK (Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki), which is an organic-approved pesticide that is a bacteria found in soil in the natural environment. It is very species-specific, so when caterpillars eat BtK it kills them, but it does not harm other insects or people.
Season: We have baby kale as early as May or June and store kale well into November. It tastes better in the cool seasons, when it converts the starches in it’s cells to sugar which acts like anti-freeze and allows it to withstand freezing temperatures.
Storage Tips: Kale needs to be stored completely covered in a plastic bag. It will wilt very quickly when exposed to the dehydrating air inside your fridge. Consume as soon as possible for maximum health benefit– after veggies are harvested, their nutrition degrades a little more each day, which is especially true of fresh greens.
If your Kale wilts before you get it home, the secret for rescuing those greens is super simple: When greens wilt, they have become dehydrated. A simple rinse in tepid/lukewarm water (helps to open the pores of the greens and allow them to take on more water) and then into a plastic bag in the fridge will work wonders on your greens and bring them completely back to life! This is called “crisping”, and is a technique used by farmers and produce retailers alike to keep greens looking great. That’s one thing you can do to help your produce stay looking great!
Preparation Tips: You can do so many things with kale: Add it to your smoothie, saute it, add it to stir-fries, steam it, and have it as a salad. In recent years, kale chips have become very popular: they are very easy to make and taste like the lightest, airiest potato chips you’ve ever had! Here’s a link to a recipe for All-Dressed Kale Chips, which has very good detailed instructions on how to make them perfectly.
If you DO make a salad, I highly, strongly recommend you massage it first! Otherwise you will feel like a rabbit, chewing and chewing and chewing something that doesn’t showcase the best qualities of kale. The recipe below was instrumental in me learning to LOVE this healthy green. I don’t usually make the dressing listed in the recipe, but ALWAYS massage my kale with a bit of oil and vinegar or lemon/lime juice and salt before eating as a salad. It’s even better if you can massage it and let it sit in the fridge for a day or two to marinade fully.