17 March 2017

Kale greens for Saint Patrick's day

Yesterday I decided to harvest the rest of my Tuscan "dinosaur" kale. It had over-wintered in the garden, and we'd eaten quite a bit of it by cutting leaves and cooking them half a dozen times over the months. The heavy frosts and morning temperatures well below freezing that we had in January didn't bother the kale at all.

The reason for harvesting the dinosaur kale now was that it was getting ready to go to seed. It had sent up hundreds of flower buds that were about to burst open. That would have been pretty, but I don't need the seeds, because I brought another package of them back from N.C. in February.

I've been told that the flower buds are good to eat, so I cut them and cooked them with some of the tender leaves and flower stalks. We'll eat some for lunch today and see how good they really are.

There is still a lot of kale for me to trim up and get ready to put in the pot. Many of the leaves are huge and probably fairly tough, but many are small and tender. Yesterday I gave the plants a good first washing in the utility room shower stall.

To harvest the plants, I took a big pair of limb-loppers out to the garden plot and cut through the fat tough stems of the plants. Then I could bring the tops, with all their leaves and flowers, into the house and cut off the flower heads before pulling all the leaves off the stems.

Washing and trimming the kale leaves and flower buds is a lot of work, but Walt and I both enjoy eating kale, and we think it's good for us. So the work is worth it. I still have quite a few leaves to wash and trim this morning. A lot of this kale will go into the freezer after it's cooked.

Here's what the plants looked like on a frosty morning two or three weeks ago. Tuscan or dinosaur kale leaves remind me more of collard green leaves than other kinds of kale do. They're "meatier" than curly kale or Russian kale leaves, and I like their texture after they're cooked.


  1. That looks a good harvest....
    those are really spot on for the flowerbuds...
    but, be quick this morning, they will open overnight indoors...
    not that that spoils their flavour...
    had some of ours cold... with walnut oil and broken walnuts... the other day.
    'Twas very nice.
    Your Red Russian should produce the same in a couple of weeks...
    both freeze well...and, talking of freezing....
    frost doesn't seem to affect them at all...
    except for that droop, which is probably caused by being unable to get water up to the leaves.
    I've noticed the same in Summer.
    Enjoy your pre-historic meal.

    1. No worries about the flower buds, Tim. I cooked them yesterday.

      Now I just finished washing, sorting, and trimming up the rest of the Tuscan kale. In all, I got well over a peck of washed and trimmed leaves — about 12 liters, really (a peck is 9 liters).

      The Red Russian kale is so beautiful right now that I might have to go ahead and pull the plants out next week. It'll be interesting to see how many pints of cooked Tuscan kale I end up with, and how much room I can find in the freezer.

  2. That's what my dino kale looks like too, but the stem (trunk?) is far beyond the limb-lopper stage. I'm going to need an ax. We'll have to give the flowers a try. The curly kale succumbed to a major aphid attack, so it went into the compost last week.

    1. En fin de compte, I got six pints of cooked kale. Plus a good pint of the good, tender cooked flower heads + small tender leaves.

      The curly kale is the hardest to clean, I think. I like the dino kale a lot — just ate a bowl of it as an afternoon snack — and I like the Red Russian Kale too.

    2. Our allotment in Leeds was on a very sand soil.... we tried kurly kale the once....just couldn't clean it fully....
      here it would be worse as we are on a chalky clay... and the windblown dust will be impossible to remove....
      We grow Italian flat-leaved parsley for the same reason!!

  3. You're so good about putting food by, and I wonder if you have some kind of inventory or list for the freezer. When I put things away, they vanish into the permafrost.

    1. We are not organized enough to draw up a freezer inventory, but we do spend time every few days moving things around in there and checking to see what we have and how we can incorporate things into our menus. Right now, I know we have a dozen or more pint containers (500 ml) of kale and chard frozen. I'm wondering whether I should grow any greens in 2017.

  4. I like the looks of dinosaur kale and had a laugh that you had a bowl of it for your afternoon goüter.

    1. I like the dinosaur kale almost as much as good collard greens. And they make a good late afternoon snack.

      I once worked with a woman from Raleigh when I was out in California. She said collards were her comfort food. When the work and commute stress got to be too much, she'd heat up a bowl of collard greens and retire to her bed to enjoy them while she watched an old movie.


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