QUESTION: What is the best way to freeze kale? Can I freeze kale without blanching? -Jenny F
ANSWER: Unblanched kale can be frozen, but it shouldn’t be used for long-term storage as it will become bitter. Without blanching, frozen kale should be consumed within four to six weeks, whereas blanched frozen kale lasts eight to 12 months. Blanching the kale stops the enzymes in the leaves from working, which prevents the leaves from turning bitter.
To freeze kale without blanching, begin by washing it well to remove dirt, insects, and any other debris that has been carried in from the garden. Some people soak leaves in one to three tablespoons of vinegar per gallon of water for 20 to 30 minutes before rinsing them. Remove the stems from the leaves, as they are often too tough to include in dishes other than soups or stir fries, then chop the leaves however you normally prepare them for cooking. You can freeze the stems separately if you plan to use them. Dry the kale well on dish towels or paper towels before freezing.
Group the kale into small portions clumped together, and place the portions on a cookie sheet before transferring to the freezer. Let these freeze into their individual portions on the cookie sheet for about an hour, then transfer to their long term storage container. You can use a freezer safe plastic food storage container or freezer safe plastic zipper bag. If you use a bag, squeeze out as much air as you can before putting it into the freezer. Flash freezing the kale into portions first means it will stay in those clumps when frozen, so it will be easy to remove the amount you need from the freezer.