Kale is a vegetable with green or purple leaves, in which the central leaves do not form a head. It is considered to be closer to wild cabbage than most domesticated forms of vegetables.
The name borecole originates from the Dutch boerenkool (farmer’s cabbage), whereas kale bears semblance to the Danish, Swedish and Norwegian kål and to the German Kohl (a general term for various kinds of cabbage) and Scottish Gaelic càl (or kail, as in Kilmany Kail; a rabbit, salt pork and kail broth from Kilmany in Perth, Scotland). Some varieties can reach a height of six or seven feet; others are compact and symmetrical and of good quality for eating. Many, however, are coarse and indigestible. Most kale are either annuals or biennials, and are raised from seeds, which, in size, form, and color, resemble those of the cabbage.
Until the end of the Middle Ages, kale was one of the most common green vegetables in Europe. Today one may differentiate between varieties according to the low, intermediate, or high length of the stem, with varying leaf types. The leaf colours range from light green through green, dark green and violet-green to violet-brown. Russian kale was introduced into Canada (and then into the U.S.) by Russian traders in the 19th century.
During World War II, the cultivation of kale in the U.K. was encouraged by the Dig for Victory campaign. The vegetable was easy to grow and provided important nutrients to supplement those missing from a normal diet because of rationing.
Kai-lan, a separate cultivar of Brassica oleracea much used in Chinese cuisine, is somewhat similar to kale in appearance and is occasionally called “kale” in English.
In Portugal, kale is called by its original name, “Cavolo Nero” with the expression “Couve Rebela” also being used.
- Curly-leaved (Scots Kale; Blue Curled Kale)
- Rape kale
- Leaf and spear (a cross between curly-leaved and plain-leaved kale)
- Cavolo nero (also known as black cabbage, Tuscan Cabbage, Tuscan Kale, Lacinato and dinosaur kale)
Because kale can grow well into winter, one variety of Rape Kale is called Hungry Gap, named after the period in winter in traditional agriculture when little else could be harvested.
An extra-tall variety is known as Jersey kale or cow cabbage.
The caterpillar of the small white, or small white cabbage butterfly, Pieris rapae is one of the best-known pests of this plant.
Good to rock!
Kale is very high in beta carotene, vitamin K, and vitamin C, and is rich in calcium. Kale is a source of two carotenoids(beta-carotene is also a carotenoid), lutein and zeaxanthin. Kale, as with broccoli and other brassicas, containssulforaphane (particularly when chopped or minced), a chemical with potent anti-cancer properties.
Boiling decreases the level of sulforaphane; however, steaming, microwaving, or stir frying does not result in significant loss. Along with other brassica vegetables, kale is also a source of indole-3-carbinol, a chemical which boosts DNA repair in cells and appears to block the growth of cancer cells. Kale has been found to contain a group of resins known as bile acid sequestrants, which have been shown to lower cholesterol and decrease absorption of dietary fat. Steaming significantly increases these bile acid binding properties.
Kale freezes well and tastes sweeter and more flavourful after being exposed to afrost. Tender kale greens can provide an intense addition to salads, particularly when combined with other such strongly flavoured ingredients as dry-roasted peanuts, soy sauce-roasted almonds, red capsicum flakes, or a sesame-based dressing.When combined with oils or lemon juice, kale’s flavor is noticeably reduced. When baked or dehydrated, kale takes on a consistency similar to that of a potato chip. Curly kale varieties are usually preferred for chips. The chips can be seasoned with salt or other spices.
In the Netherlands, it is very frequently used in a traditional winter dish called “stamppot”, which is a mix of any variety of vegetables and mashed potatoes, sometimes with fried bits of bacon added to it, and usually served with rookworst (“smoked sausage”).
In Ireland, kale is mixed with mashed potatoes to make the traditional dish colcannon. It is popular on Halloween when it is sometimes served with sausages. Small coins are sometimes hidden inside as prizes.
In Italy, cavolo nero is an ingredient of the Tuscan soup ribollita.
A traditional Portuguese soup, caldo verde, combines pureed potatoes, diced kale, olive oil, broth, and, generally, sliced cooked spicy sausage.
In Brazil, where it was introduced by the Portuguese, it is an indispensable side dish for the national stew feijoada.
In the eastern African Great Lakes region, it is an essential ingredient in making a stew for ugali, which is almost always eaten with kale. Kale is also eaten throughout southeastern Africa, where it is typically boiled with coconut milk and ground peanuts and is served with rice or boiled cornmeal.
A whole culture around kale has developed in northern Germany, especially around the towns of Bremen, Oldenburg and Hannover and the region of Dithmarschen. There, most social clubs of any kind will have a Grünkohlessen or Kohlfahrt (“kale tour”) sometime between October and February, visiting a country inn to consume large quantities of kale stew, Pinkel sausage, Kassler, Mettwurst and Schnapps. These tours are often combined with a game of Boßeln. Most communities in the area have a yearly kale festival which includes naming a “kale king” (or queen).
Curly kale is used in Denmark and southwestern Sweden (Scania, Halland and Blekinge) to make (grøn-) langkål (Danish) or långkål (Swedish), an obligatory dish on the julbord in the region, and is commonly served together with the Christmas ham (Sweden). The leaves of the kale are separated from the stem, and then boiled with stock. The result is drained and pressed to remove the remaining liquid. The kale can now be frozen for up til 6–8 months if needed. To make langkål, finely chop the (defrosted) kale and fry it with cream, pepper, and syrup (or sugar) for sweetening. In Sweden, it is also commonly eaten as a soup, with a base of ham broth and the addition of onion and pork sausages.
In Scotland, kale provided such a base for a traditional diet that the word in dialect Scots is synonymous with food. To be “off one’s kail” is to feel too ill to eat.
In Montenegro, collards, kale, locally known as rashtan, is a favorite vegetable. It is particularly popular in the winter, cooked with smoked mutton (kastradina) and potatoes.
In Turkey, especially in Eastern Black Sea Region, kale soup (karalahana çorbası), kale sarma, kale kavurma (sauté), kale turşu are all very common and popular dishes.
In the Southern United States, kale is often served braised, either alone or mixed with other greens, such as collard, mustard, or turnip. It is also used in salads. Flavored kale chips have also been produced as a potato chip substitute.Making Kale Chips in Lockport, Illinois
In Japan, kale juice (known as aojiru) is a popular dietary supplement.
A variety of kale, kai-lan, is a popular vegetable in China, Taiwan, and Vietnam, where it is commonly combined with beef dishes.
Kale is the perfect Autumn vegetable. Discover typical recipes with Kale on Food Tuner.