Can You Freeze Kale?

When you buy fresh kale you may want to know if you can freeze it.  Simply put, yes, kale can be frozen. Fortunately, freezing kale is really easy and it does freezes well.  It is an ingredient that works great in raw and cooked dishes; therefore, having it on hand as a staple in your house may be important.  If you are like me you may have often purchase big bags of kale at farmer’s markets, have an abundance in your garden, or buy it in bulk at Costco. This is when it is a good idea to get that kale frozen to use later. 

You can safely freeze kale but the texture will change and result in a quality that is less crisp. Once thawed or defrosted, kale will lose some of its water, thus becoming soft and lose some of its crispness.  Because kale is a hearty green, it freezes very well and retains some of its texture. It does stand up to freezing a lot better than other greens like spinach, romaine, or arugula.  Another great vegetable that freezes well like kale, is cabbage, and here is the information for those wondering CAN YOU FREEZE CABBAGE

 

Can You Freeze Kale? PN1 a bunch of kale and a box of freezer Ziploc bags on a counter

 

How to Freeze Kale

There are two main methods for freezing kale.  You can freeze raw or uncooked kale quickly in the freezer. You can also cook kale by blanching it to prepare it to freeze.   Both options are easy but there is some difference in the results. Therefore, read on about which way to freeze kale would be right for you. It depends on how long you may want to store frozen kale and how you want to use it once it is thawed.   Either way, freezing kale is a good way to keep the vegetable to use later in a healthy diet. 

When you freeze kale properly, you will not ruin it.  The main thing to remember is to chill it as dry as possible since any moisture while freezing kale can lead to freezer burn.   The other important factor is to make sure the kale is in an air-tight ziplock bag with the air removed.  This ensures the kale freezes in the best environment possible. 

Can You Freeze Kale? closeup of a large bunch of green kale

 

Freezing Raw or Unblanched Kale

You can freeze fresh kale without blanching it, but plan to use it within 4-6 weeks. You can freeze kale leaves or the whole stems or bunch in just a few easy steps.  Raw or unblanched kale is bitter, to begin with, and that will carry over when freezing it.  It may even become more bitter but since frozen kale is best enjoyed later cooked it will help make it less bitter. Unblanched kale leaves work well in full-flavored recipes where it is an ingredient and not a side dish all on its own.   This is the best method when you want it in stews, soups, casseroles, stir-fries, or pasta dishes for later. For more recipe ideas scroll down. 

To Prepare Raw or Unblanched Whole Stems of Kale

  1. Rinse the kale well to clean thoroughly.  You may need to open up curly kale leaves to clean. 
  2. Dry the kale completely on paper towels or with a salad spinner. 
  3. Place the kale in an air-tight Ziploc bag. Separate it out into the portions you may want for later so use big or small Ziploc bags. Remove all air from the bag and seal tightly. 

To Prepare Raw or Unblanched Kale Leaves for Freezing

  1. Rinse the kale well to clean thoroughly.  You may need to open up curly kale leaves to clean. 
  2. Dry the kale completely on paper towels or with a salad spinner. 
  3. Tear the kale leaves off the thick stem. These can be in large or small pieces. 
  4. Place the kale in a single layer on a baking sheet to flash freeze for 1 hour.
  5. Transfer the frozen kale leaves to an air-tight Ziploc bag.  Separate it out into the portions you may want for later so use big or small Ziploc bags. Remove all air from the bag and seal tightly. 

Can You Freeze Kale? a box of ziploc bags and fresh kale on the counter

 

Freezing Cooked & Blanched Kale

You do not have to blanch kale before freezing it but if you do it will last longer in the freezer than if you froze it in a raw state. If you want your kale to last for 6-8 months, blanch the leaves and stems which will help preserve them longer. You can also freeze leftover cooked kale if it is steamed, sauteed, or boiled and has no other ingredients with it. Blanched kale works well in almost any recipe.  This is the best method when you want it in dishes where kale is the star and is not overpowered by other flavors.  Think of using it in smoothies, simple sautes, sauces, breakfast hash, and more. 

To Prepare Cooked or Blanched Kale Leaves for Freezing

  1. Rinse the kale well to clean thoroughly.  You may need to open up curly kale leaves to clean. 
  2. Tear the kale leaves off the thick stem. These can be in large or small pieces. You can also leave them on the stem, your choice. 
  3. Prepare an ice-water bath.  In a large mixing bowl add a few cups of ice and some water to cover, the bowl should be about 1/2 way full when this step is done. 
  4. Prepare a large stockpot with water and bring to a slow rolling boil. Blanch large leaves for 2 minutes or full stems for 3 minutes.  Use a wooden spoon to push down any leaves that may float to the top.
  5. Once done, using tongs remove the kale from the pot and drop immediately in the ice water bath. This shocks it and helps retain some of the bright green colors. 
  6. Dry the kale completely on paper towels or with a salad spinner. 
  7. Place the kale in a single layer on a baking sheet to flash freeze for 1 hour.  Or you can freeze directly in the Ziploc without the baking sheet step.  Separate it out into the portions you may want for later so use big or small Ziploc bags. 
  8. Transfer the frozen kale leaves to an air-tight Ziploc bag.  Remove all air from the bag and seal tightly. 

 

How Long Will Kale Last in the Freezer?

Frozen kale that has been cooked or blanched first can last for 6-8 months if frozen properly.  Raw or uncooked kale will last about 4-6 weeks in the freezer.   The key to making sure kale withstands being frozen well is to ensure you follow the proper steps for preparing it for the freezer.  Whether you blanch it or package it up raw, if the kale is dry and sealed well in an air-tight Ziploc bag it will last in the freezer for a long time.  Freezing kale is a great way to preserve this healthy ingredient and read more about the TOP 10 HEALTH BENEFITS OF EATING KALE. 

 

 

Can You Freeze Kale? kale in a ziploc bag in the freezer on a shelf with ice cream

 

How to Defrost Kale

To defrost kale properly, remove the bag from the freezer and place it in the refrigerator.  It should defrost overnight and be thawed out the next day.  If it is a thick and large frozen bag of kale, it may take up to 2 days to defrost. 

 

How Long will Kale Last in the Refrigerator?  

Once you have defrosted kale in the refrigerator you will want to use it quickly.  I suggest using thawed kale from the freezer within 2 days.  For the best recipes to use for kale, see below. 

 

Recipes & Uses for Frozen Kale

Frozen raw or unblanched kale once thawed will work best in stews, soups, and casseroles so that it mixes in with a bunch of other ingredients But for serving kale as a stand-alone side dish, you will want to make sure you blanch it first to thaw and defrost for later use as a side dish, in smoothies, warm salads, or with eggs. Here are some great recipes to add thawed kale to. 

This kale salad uses fresh kale but it is also great as a warm salad since the butternut squash is roasted and the honey dressing is amazing with sauteed kale. Simply saute the defrosted kale in a pan with a little bit of olive oil and then make the rest of the recipe. 

Butternut Squash, Apple, and Kale Salad with Honey Dijon Vinaigrette
Butternut squash and kale make the perfect Fall salad. The crunchy pecans, crisp apples, sweet raisins, and roasted butternut squash make the most amazing Autumn harvest salad recipe.
Check out this recipe
Butternut Squash, Apple, and Kale Salad with Honey Dijon Vinaigrette

 

For this keto lasagna, you can add thawed kale to the layers to add some green along with the meat, cheese, and Crepini.  It is simply fantastic, comforting, and low-carb. 

LOW CARB KETO LASAGNA WITH CREPINI
Lasagna that is as authentic as nonnie would make but only 4 net carbs each serving!
Check out this recipe
crepini keto lasagna

 

This side dish is lovely with Brussels, brown sugar, bacon, and blue cheese. The salty, sweet, and earthy recipe is one of our favorite vegetable sides.  You can also add kale to it to bulk up on the greens and healthy ingredients in this recipe. 

Caramelized Brussel sprouts with Brown Sugar, Bacon, & Blue Cheese
Caramelized Brussel sprouts with brown sugar are a wonderful simple side dish.  To make Brussel sprouts even more wonderful add bacon and blue cheese for a sweet, salty, creamy, and nutty delight. 
Check out this recipe
Caramelized Brussel Sprouts with Brown Sugar, Bacon, & Blue Cheese featured overhead

 

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Can You Freeze Kale? featured closeup of a bunch of kale

Can You Freeze Kale?

Angela
Here is the best recipe method to freeze either fresh or blanched kale. In just a few easy steps you can preserve kale to use later in recipes.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Course Appetizer, Main Course, Soup
Cuisine American
Servings 4

Equipment

  • Ziploc Bags

Ingredients
  

  • Fresh Kale Stems & Leaves
  • Fresh Kale Leaves Only
  • Leftover Cooked Kale

Instructions
 

Raw Kale - Direct Freezing Method

  • Rinse the kale well to clean thoroughly.  You may need to open up curly kale leaves to clean.
  • Dry the kale completely on paper towels or with a salad spinner. 
  • Place the kale in an air-tight Ziploc bag. Separate it out into the portions you may want for later so use big or small Ziploc bags. Remove all air from the bag and seal tightly.  Place in the freezer.

Raw Kale - Flash Freezing Method

  • Rinse the kale well to clean thoroughly.  You may need to open up curly kale leaves to clean. 
  • Dry the kale completely on paper towels or with a salad spinner. 
  • Tear the kale leaves off the thick stem. These can be in large or small pieces. 
  • Place the kale in a single layer on a baking sheet to flash freeze for 1 hour.
  • Transfer the frozen kale leaves to an air-tight Ziploc bag.  Separate it out into the portions you may want for later so use big or small Ziploc bags. Remove all air from the bag and seal tightly. Place in the freezer

Freezing Blanched Kale

  • Rinse the kale well to clean thoroughly.  You may need to open up curly kale leaves to clean. Tear the kale leaves off the thick stem. These can be in large or small pieces. You can also leave them on the stem, your choice. 
  • Prepare an ice-water bath.  In a large mixing bowl add a few cups of ice and some water to cover, the bowl should be about 1/2 way full when this step is done. 
  • Prepare a large stockpot with water and bring to a slow rolling boil. Blanch large leaves for 2 minutes or full stems for 3 minutes.  Use a wooden spoon to push down any leaves that may float to the top.
    Once done, using tongs remove the kale from the pot and drop immediately in the ice water bath. This shocks it and helps retain some of the bright green colors. 
  • Dry the kale completely on paper towels or with a salad spinner. You may need to wrap the kale in paper towels and squeeze it over the sink. This will get all the excess moisture out.
  • Place the kale in a single layer on a baking sheet to flash freeze for 1 hour.  Or you can freeze directly in the Ziploc without the baking sheet step.  Separate it out into the portions you may want for later so use big or small Ziploc bags. 
  • Transfer the frozen kale to an air-tight Ziploc bag. Remove all air from the bag and seal tightly. Place in the freezer.
Keyword easy, freezes well, frozen, vegetable

 


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