Fresh local kale will be showing up soon at many local farm markets. Flying Mouse Farms out of Yellows Springs had some lovely kale a few weeks ago at the Oakwood Saturday morning farm market, and Rosemary’s Garden and Stubbs Family Farm are among several local growers of quality kale.
Kale belongs to same family as cabbage, collards, and Brussels sprouts, a group which contains many health-promoting, sulfur-containing phytonutrients. Kale is a descendent of the wild cabbage which is thought to have originated in Asia Minor and brought to Europe around 600 B.C. by Celtic wanderers. Curly kale was a popular vegetable eaten by peasants in the Middle Ages, and English settlers brought it to the United States in the 17th century.
Ornamental and dinosaur kale are more recent varieties. Dinosaur kale was discovered in Italy in the late 19th century. Ornamental kale, as the name implies, started out as only a decorative garden plant. It was first grown commercially in California in the 1980s.
Although it can be found in markets throughout the year, it is in season during the cooler weather. Select kale with firm, richly colored leaves and moist, sturdy stems. Leaves should appear fresh, unwilted, and show no signs of browning, yellowing, or small holes. Smaller kale leaves are tenderer and have a milder flavor than larger leaves. To store, place the unwashed kale in a plastic storage bag and remove as much air as possible before sealing (washing the kale first encourages spoiling). Store in the refrigerator crisper drawer and it should keep for at least 5 days BUT the longer you store it, the more bitter the flavor will become.
Dehydrated kale chips
- 1 large bunch of kale
- 2-3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ¾ teaspoon sea salt
Strip the leaves away from the leafstalks and tough midribs (if you dry the whole leaf, the stem that runs through the middle of the leaf good tough and woody). You can save the leaf stems for making soup stock!
Wash the kale leaves and dry by gently patting the leaves between a couple of dry dishtowels.
Tear the washed and dried leaves into sizes just slightly larger than potato-chip-size (they shrink a bit as they dry)
Toss the kale in a large bowl with the extra-virgin olive oil and the salt, rubbing the oil over the leaves with clean hands in order to coat the leaves with oil. Spread the torn leaves on the dehydrator trays in a single layer, with no leaves overlapping. Dry the leaves for 4 hours or until the chips are dry and crispy. Place leaves in an airtight container for storage.