How to Store Kale So It Lasts

published Oct 18, 2022
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

When the weather starts to turn chilly, I begin to daydream about all my favorite fall and winter comfort foods — the chilis, stews, and braises that keep me (and my kitchen) warm from the inside out. Many of my favorite cold-weather comfort foods have a common ingredient: kale, that nutrient-dense superfood that grows in abundance throughout the cooler months. Here’s how to treat kale right and store it properly to get the most out of every last bunch.

How to Store Kale in the Refrigerator

Hold off on washing your kale until you’re ready to cook with it. Instead, remove any obvious debris by wiping off the leaves with a paper towel, and then gently wrap them in a dry paper towel before placing in the crisper bin of your refrigerator. Stored this way, kale will last for about a week.

How to Freeze Kale

You can also freeze kale for later use, in which case you will want to wash and prep the kale for optimal storage.

1. Prepare kale for freezing.

First wash the kale thoroughly, and then strip the kale leaves from the stems. (Reserve the stems for juice or stock!)

2. Blanch the kale.

Prepare a large pot of water, and bring to a boil over high heat. If you’re going to use the kale for savory applications, salt the water with about a tablespoon of kosher salt. If you’re going to use the kale for smoothies, or you prefer to keep your options open, omit the salt. Make an ice water bath and set aside. Blanch kale in boiling water for one to two minutes, and then immerse the kale in the ice bath to stop the cooking process.

4. Dry the blanched kale.

In a salad spinner or on a sheet tray lined with kitchen towels, dry the kale thoroughly so that it doesn’t form ice crystals when it freezes.

5. Freeze on a baking sheet.

Spread the kale on a baking sheet in a single layer. (I like these mini baking sheets for this job.) Freeze for four hours or overnight before placing in freezer bags and storing upright. Alternatively, you can freeze the kale in little clumps on a baking sheet, which are easy to grab and throw in recipes when you need it. Stored this way, kale can last an impressive eight to 12 months!

Can You Freeze Kale Without Blanching It?

Yes, you can freeze fresh kale without blanching it. However, it won’t last as long in the freezer because the enzymes that ripen the vegetable are still active. When kale is frozen without blanching first, it should be used within about a month.

How to Use Frozen Kale

Frozen kale is perfect for smoothies, soups, and sautés like this easy skillet kale, and since you’ve already removed it from the stem and blanched it, your recipes will come together even faster!