Now is one of the best times to enjoy kale from the garden as its flavor will intensify and actually become sweeter after periodic exposure to frost. As other similarly hearty vegetables, like broccoli and chard, will succumb to the harsh winter elements, kale will be the “last of the Mohicans” to be standing in a snow covered garden, and regularly comes back in the spring. Kale is so hearty that farmer Frederick Wellington of Wellington Herbs and Spices says:
“Until we get 10 or so straight days of cold temperatures below zero, kale and collards can survive and still be harvested. Once the extreme cold weather sets in, the leaves will actually shatter like glass. In the spring they are one of the few vegetables to re-leaf. Eventually they go to seed but until so, the leaves can be harvested and are pretty tasty.”
Kale is a fairly low maintenance vegetable that will grow well in any soil and is largely unaffected by pests and diseases like club root, cabbage root fly and slugs that trouble its cabbage cousins. Extremely nutritious, kale is packed with fiber, antioxidants, beta carotene, calcium and vitamins – like K and C. Some “Super Food” proponents even believe that levels of sulforaphane that are present in kale and its fellow crucifers posses cancer fighting properties. There are many ways to prepare kale, from oven dried chips to salads, to quiche and pie variations and stir fried as it is in the kale fried rice recipe below.
A deliciously simple stir fry recipe for all seasons