Kale is a cold weather veggie.  It is usually harvested before the heat of the summer, or in the fall.  Kale may become bitter once it starts reaching temperatures of 80 degrees or more.  However, it’s taste improves and is sweeter once it frosts (or even goes through a light snow). For us, this means it is one of the few vegetables that we can grow year round, and harvest well into our fall when most other plants have died.  Most winters, it will survive to keep producing in the spring again for us.  This is quite impressive since our average low looms near -30° F in the winter. I like to harvest it in large batches because our family likes green smoothies, and often we freeze it through the summer to get that sweeter taste.  In green smoothies we don’t notice the taste difference.  If I was going to cook it down or make kale chips, I wouldn’t harvest it during the summer. Once kale leaves are about the size of your hand, it’s time to harvest them.  (I kinda got these here in the picture a little on the early side, but baby leaves are good too.) Pluck the leaves that are large on the outside, or cut them with sharp garden scissors. How to harvest kale so it keeps producing, and properly store it. Try to avoid the terminal bed (this part in the middle I’m pointing at) if you want your plant to keep producing kale, or if you want your kale to produce seeds.  If you don’t have bees in your area, you won’t get seeds from your kale. How to harvest kale so it keeps producing, and properly store it.Take your kale to your cleaning area, and clean it much like you would lettuce.  Wash it in the sink, and shake it well and dry the leaves in a strainer.  (I got mine at the dollar store.) You have three choices at this point if you aren’t going to cook it right now.  You can dehydrate it, you can store it in a paper towel in a zip lock bag in your fridge for up to a week, or you can freeze it. To freeze kale it, drop it in boiling water for two minutes; three minutes if you are above 5000 feet in altitude.  Then take it out of the water, and immediately place it in ice water. After a couple minutes, shake it off and place it on a towel to dry.  When it’s dry, lay it  out flat on a baking tray.  Try not to have the leaves touching each other. In about an hour, you can pick the leaves off and place them in a freezer bag.  I find that this is a feasible way to store it if you plan to cook it at a later point. We don’t eat cooked kale often, therefore we don’t use this technique often.  I normally skip the blanching part, and place it directly in the freezer after washing and drying to use in smoothies at a later date.  Otherwise I dehydrate it and make chips.  

 

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