Is kale a miracle food or just something else to plant?

Tips to grow this nutrient-dense member of the cabbage family at home and recipes to try.

If feels like wherever you look at the moment you can find a kale related headline! Its popularity seems to be a new phenomenon – a “miracle food!” Indeed, kale, as well as other leafy greens, are a great source of vitamins and minerals. Kale is particularly nutrient-dense and is a member of the cabbage family.

Growing Kale

According to Cornell University, one can grow kale quite easily. The seed germination temperature should be 45 – 85 degrees Fahrenheit, but can germinate when soil temperatures are as low as 40 degrees F. The seeds take only four to seven days to emerge – a short time especially if children are involved in the gardening. Because kale likes the cooler temperatures, you can sow seeds about three months before the expected fall frost.

  • Plant ¼ to ½ inch deep and one inch apart.
  • Rows should be 18 to 30 inches apart.
  • Thin to 12- to 18-inch spacing, eating or transplanting the thinned plants.

After harvest, you can keep some of the seeds to plant for following years but plant your kale in a different location to help reduce disease. 

What so you do with the kale you produce? Michigan State University Extension recommends you pick when the leaves are crisp and dark. Store it in the refrigerator until use for up to two to three days. When ready to use, it’s important to wash the kale in cool, running water and remove any stringy stalks.

Kale can be steamed, stir-fried or baked into delicious kale chips.

Steamed Kale – Serves 4

Recipe from “The Market Basket,” Project Fresh.

1 pound kale

2 tsp. oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

¼ c. water

Wash the kale well and cut into 1-inch strips. Heat oil in a large pot and add garlic, cooking for approximately 15 seconds. Add the water and bring to a boil. Add kale and toss it to mix well.

Cover the pot and steam kale for about 6 minutes or until it is tender but still bright green.

Kale Chips – Serves 6

4 c. bunched kale (or other greens)

1 ½ Tbsp. olive oil

Seasoning Suggestions: salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, turmeric, and Parmesan cheese.

Wash and dry kale. With kitchen scissors or a knife, carefully remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite-sized pieces. Place kale on a cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning of choice. Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until kale is crisp and edges are brown but not burned.

Stir Fry – Add washed and de-stemmed kale to any stir-fry recipe for added nutrients and taste.

When you’re thinking about something new to try this summer, look no further than your own garden or Farmers’ Market for kale. Anytime you are using fresh produce, wash in clean running water to reduce the chance of harmful bacteria contamination.

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