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National Kale Day: First Wednesday in October

By Paul Rodman (paulgrowSeptember 27, 2013
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National Kale Day is proposed as an annual celebration of eating, growing, and sharing kale throughout America. And it's a great excuse to learn all about this versatile vegetable.

Gardening picture

Until the end of the Middle Ages. kale was one of the most common green vegetables in all of Europe. 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.

Enjoying a resurgence in popularity, kale is a vegetable gaining recognition for its exceptional nutrient richness, health benefits, and delicious flavor.  Also known as borecole, it is one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet. A leafy green, kale is available in curly, ornamental, or dinosaur varieties. It belongs to the Brassica family, which includes cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, collards, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.

Kale's health benefits are primarily linked to the high concentration and excellent source of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K  and sulfur containing phytonutrients. One cup of chopped kale contains 33 calories and 9% of the daily value of calcium, 206% of vitamin A, 134% of vitamin C, and a whopping 684% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.

A cup of kale provides you with 100mg of omega-3 fatty acids, which may help reduce inflammation. With the added mega-dose of vitamin K, it may help reduce inflammatory problems, such as asthma, arthritis, autoimmune disorders, allergies and sensitivities, acne, colitis, fibromyalgia, high blood pressure and more. Eating a diet rich in the powerful antioxidant vitamin K can reduce the overall risk of developing or dying from cancer, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Vitamin K is abundant in kale but also found in parsley, spinach, collard greens, and animal products such as cheese.

Growing your own.

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     There are several varieties iof kale

Planting
You can plant kale anytime from early spring to early summer. If you plant kale late in the summer you can harvest it from fall until the ground freezes in winter.

  • Mix 1 1/2 cups of 5-10-10 fertilizer per 25 feet of row into the top 3 to 4 inches of soil.
  • Plant the seeds 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep into well-drained, light soil.
  • After about 2 weeks, thin the seedlings so that they are spaced 8 to 12 inches apart

Care

  • Water the plants regularly but be sure not to overwater them.
Mulch the soil heavily after the first hard freeze; the plants may continue to produce leaves throughout the winter. 

Harvest/Storage

  • Kale is ready to harvest when the leaves are about the size of your hand.
  • Pick about one fistful of leaves per harvest. Avoid picking the terminal bud (found at the top center of the plant) because this will help to keep the plant productive.
  • The small, tender leaves can be eaten uncooked and used in salads.
  • Cut and cook the larger leaves like spinach, but be sure to remove the ribs before cooking.
  • You can store kale as you would any other leafy green; put the kale in a plastic bag and store it in the refrigerator. It should last about 1 week.

Here are some kale recipes to try, I'm sure that you will enjoy them.

Sautéed Kale
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1 1/2 pounds young kale, stems and leaves coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1/2 cup vegetable stock or water
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

 
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until soft, but not colored. Raise heat to high, add the stock and kale and toss to combine. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove cover and continue to cook, stirring until all the liquid has evaporate

 

Garlic-Roasted Kale

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  • 3 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 10 ounces kale stems removed and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
  • Arrange oven racks in center and lower third of oven. Preheat oven to 425°. Place a large jelly-roll pan in oven for 5 minutes.
  • Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl; toss to coat. Place kale mixture on hot pan, spreading with a silicone spatula to separate leaves. Bake at 425° for 7 minutes. Stir kale. Bake an additional 5 minutes or until edges of leaves are crisp and kale is tender.
  • Place kale in a large bowl. Drizzle with vinegar; toss to combine. Serve immediately.

 

Quick Kale with Bacon and Onions
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  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 10 cup chopped kale, divided
  • 1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
  • 6 lemon wedges

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion to pan; sauté 6 minutes or until onion is tender and begins to brown. Add 5 cups kale, 1/4 cup broth, salt, and peppers to pan. Cover, reduce heat, and cook 4 minutes. Add remaining 5 cups kale and remaining 1/4 cup broth to pan. Cover and cook 16 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with bacon. Serve with lemon wedges.

If you haven't done so already why not give kale a try? And let me know what you think.


  About Paul Rodman  
Paul RodmanPaul Rodman has been gardening for over 45 years. He is an Advanced Master Gardener, and American Rose Society Consulting Rosarian. He is President Emertius of the Western Wayne County Master Gardener Association in Wayne County, Michigan. He currently serves as the greenhouse chairman of this group. Rodman has amassed over 5500 volunteer hours in the Master Gardener program. Rodman is the garden columnist for The News Herald newspaper, in Southgate, Michigan. He has also written for the Organic Gardening.com web site. He is a certified Master Canner and has taught classes on Home Food Preserving for 7 years. He has lectured on various gardening topics throughout southeastern Michigan. His favorite pastime is teaching children about gardening. For the past several years he has conducted classes for second grade students teaching them about subjects ranging from vermi-composting to propagation.

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Discussion about this article:
SubjectTopic StarterRepliesViewsLast Post
Great! jmc1987 9 21 Sep 30, 2013 10:35 PM
I'm going to start looking like kale hikerpat 0 3 Sep 30, 2013 3:09 PM
OK, Im going to give it a try steadycam3 0 6 Sep 27, 2013 1:38 PM
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