Sunday, March 22, 2015

Collard and Kale Preservation

The greens that were planted last fall have started to bolt, so it was time to bid adieu to them and get ready for the spring and summer beds.

But first, I harvested a bunch of the collard and kale leaves that remained on the plants (at least the ones that had not yet been infested with aphids).

I ended up harvesting 3 pounds and 13.5 ounces of the Flash collards and 2 pounds and 0.2 ounces of several kale varieties.

I was certainly not going to be able to eat this many fresh greens in the next few days, so I had to think about longer-term food preservation.  I have never done any canning, and very little freezing (usually just of soups or ratatouille), so I had to do some investigating to see what made sense.

I determined it would be best for me to freeze the greens, but first, I had to blanch them to get rid of the enzymes that break down food so that the veggies will last longer and retain more of their nutritional value.

STEP 1 - First, I had to thoroughly wash the collards and kale

STEP 2 - Next, I de-ribbed the leaves by removing the tough stem

STEP 3 - Give the greens a rough chop

STEP 4 - Bring a pot of water to boil (about 2/3 full) and cook the greens in the pot for 2-3 minutes (3 minutes for collards and 2 minutes for other greens).

STEP 5 - Remove leaves from boiling water and submerge in ice water (in a large pot) for 2-3 minutes (I had a lot more ice in the pot to begin with, but most melted once I was on my third batch of blanching).

STEP 6 - Thoroughly drain the greens to remove excess water

STEP 7 - Put the greens in Ziplock freezer bags or seal with a vacuum sealer

It's kind of crazy how much greens cook down to.  Almost six pounds of leaves made about nine cups of blanched greens.  But, if I did everything correctly, these should last in the freezer for up to a year...much better than making myself sick of collards and kale in the next day or two.

If you have any great recipes that call for frozen collards/kale, let me know.  I will likely find myself in need of a new recipe, or two!

My harvest totals so far this year include:
  • 7.5 oz Cherry Bell radish
  • 3 lb 13.9 oz kale (several varieties)
  • 6 lb 10.3  oz Flash collards
  • 1 lb 7.7 oz Ruby Red chard
  • 14.2 oz Fordhook Giant chard
  • 7 colanders salad greens (lettuce, spinach, arugula) 
  • 1 lb 2.9 oz Meyer Lemons (5)
  • 1 lb 1.2 oz Broccoli (5)
  • 7.1 oz cilantro
  • 6.5 oz parsley
  • 4.0 oz spinach


  1. With fresh kale so ubiquitous at the grocer's I doubt you'll find many recipes calling for frozen kale per se, but I'm betting you could sub in equal amounts of either green for any older recipe calling for frozen spinach. We like to use them in twice baked potatoes, subbed in for eggs baked in spinach cups, etc.

    1. That sounds excellent, I'll definitely have to try - thanks for the idea.

  2. Great harvest results and its great that you took the time to preserve the remainder - I've no recipes to offer but I'm sure there are plenty out there.

    1. While my garden goes through a bit of a harvest lull waiting for my spring planted veggies to be ready for harvest, I will probably do a bit of research and cook up a new dish with these frozen greens. If all goes well, I will keep putting in the effort to preserve the greens.

  3. You could try the northern Italian pasta dish of Pizzoccheri from the Valtelina. It's delicious.