The grocery was all out of frozen veggies, so you grabbed as much fresh kale as you could carry. Now what? Don’t panic: You can turn that fresh kale into frozen with a simple process called blanching. Here’s how to freeze kale so you can cook with it for months.
How to Freeze Kale So You Can Cook with It for Months
Wait, what is blanching?
Blanching basically translates to very quickly scalding a food in boiling water, then rapidly cooling it down to halt the cooking process. It will help your kale retain a bright color and better texture than if you froze it raw by halting the enzymes that would normally cause a loss of flavor, color and texture. (It also slows down the loss of nutrients, win-win.) Never blanched before? It’s easy.
How to freeze kale in 4 easy steps:
1. Set up a blanching station and an ice bath.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. (When we say salted, we mean treat it like pasta water, adding a few tablespoons of kosher salt per quart of water.) Set up a large bowl of ice water nearby, and have a wire strainer or colander ready.
2. Prepare the fresh kale.
While the water comes to a boil, separate the stems and leaves and wash the kale thoroughly in cool water to get rid of lingering dirt or bugs. We like to use a salad spinner. If you want, you can even trim away the tough ends from the kale stems and blanch those too.
3. Blanch the kale.
Immerse the kale in the boiling water. (Depending on how much you’re working with, you may need to blanch in batches.) Start timing immediately for three minutes. Immediately drain the kale using the wire strainer or colander.
4. Chill and freeze the kale.
Immediately transfer the kale to the ice bath and give it a swish to cool it, then drain and dry it thoroughly. To freeze the kale, you can either pack it in a container or zip-top bag right away and transfer it to the freezer, or portion it into small mounds on a baking sheet, freeze it for an hour and then pack it away in a container or bag (our preferred method). Who even needs store-bought?
How long can you keep kale in the freezer?
When properly prepared and stored, kale can keep in the freezer for a whopping 12 months. When you’re ready to cook with it, you can add it straight to your recipe without thawing. First up: kale minestrone.