How to Freeze Kale – A Convenient Method of Keeping Your Produce Fresh
How to Freeze Kale – If you grow your own kale or find yourself with an abundance of it at the end of the growing season, then you know how quickly it can go bad if you don’t use it immediately.
Freezing kale gives you the freedom to enjoy all its benefits whenever you choose and ensures that your hard work in growing this vegetable wasn’t in vain. Here are some easy tips on how to freeze kale to help you prepare it for future meals.
What is Freezing?
You’ve probably heard a lot about freezing food, but maybe you don’t know exactly what it is. Here we answer your questions about freezing food and how you can preserve produce at home.
Let’s start with some facts about freezer burn: It is a decrease in quality, not necessarily a loss of nutrients in frozen fruits and vegetables that have been exposed to oxygen.
Freezer burn occurs when air comes into contact with frozen foods and causes dehydration. The result is dry, leathery spots on food or ice crystals on its surface.
Though they may look unappetizing, foods do not lose their nutritional value as a result of freezer burn. In fact, some studies suggest that flash-frozen fruits and vegetables actually retain more vitamins than fresh produce does.
To prevent freezer burn, wrap your food tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil before placing it in an airtight container for long-term storage. Place containers in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze until solid.
Then transfer them to a resealable plastic bag for longer-term storage. Label each bag with contents and date so you can keep track of what’s inside without opening each individual package.
When ready to use, thaw frozen fruit slowly by leaving it out overnight at room temperature; watermelon takes the longest because it contains more water than other fruits.
For faster thawing, place packages in a bowl of cold water and change the water every 30 minutes. Thawed berries should be used within one day; other fruits within three days.
If you plan to cook with frozen fruits or vegetables, never thaw them first cook directly from frozen. Thawing at room temperature will also help minimize moisture loss from condensation. If you want to speed up thawing time, place food in a bowl of warm water or run it under warm tap water.
Never refreeze meat that has been previously frozen it can make you sick. And never refreeze any type of previously frozen food if there are signs of freezer burn on it the texture will be compromised, and bacteria could grow during subsequent freezing cycles. Finally, remember that frozen foods must be cooked thoroughly before eating.
The Benefits of Freezing Fruits and Vegetables: There are many benefits to freezing fruits and vegetables. First, you get to enjoy the fresh-picked flavor all year round.
Second, you can save money by buying produce when it’s in season (and therefore less expensive) and then preserving it for later use. Finally, frozen foods are often better than their canned counterparts because they retain more nutrients especially if they were flash-frozen shortly after harvesting.
How long frozen food will last depends on how it was prepared before being frozen; be sure to follow these guidelines from USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service: Cooked meat or poultry should be stored no longer than one month; uncooked meat or poultry should be stored no longer than two months.
Cooked casseroles and other dishes containing meat, poultry, or seafood should be stored no longer than three months.
Cooked pasta dishes, soups, and stews containing meat, poultry, or seafood should be stored no longer than four months.
Leftovers that have been refrigerated promptly after cooking may also be frozen for up to three months without a loss of quality. Canned meats, poultry, and fish have an indefinite shelf life if unopened. If opened, they should be used within three days. Canned fruit has an indefinite shelf life if unopened.
If opened, it should be used within seven days. Canned vegetables with high liquid content such as corn, green beans, and peas have an indefinite shelf life if unopened. If opened, they should be used within seven days. Frozen cooked potatoes should be thawed in your refrigerator and eaten within five days.
Frozen cooked rice should be thawed in your refrigerator and eaten within three days. Other frozen vegetable products including mixed vegetables, broccoli, carrots, spinach, and cauliflower have an indefinite shelf life if unopened.
If opened, they should be used within six months. If using freezer bags, remove as much air as possible prior to sealing. Label packages with contents and date so you know how old something is if you happen upon it months down the road.
Seal tightly and freeze immediately. For best results, store items in single layers rather than stacking them. This will help prevent frost burn (the formation of ice crystals inside the packaging). When thawing frozen food, plan ahead so you don’t end up with a soggy mess on your hands.
To speed things along, try placing your package in warm water instead of leaving it out at room temperature overnight.
Step 1: Wash it
Whether it’s fresh from your garden or from your local farmers’ market, wash your kale thoroughly. You’ll want to do so using warm water and a soft-bristled brush or sponge.
It’s important that you remove all dirt, sand, and other debris before moving on to step 2 below. This will ensure that you won’t have any unwanted flavors in your finished product. Plus, removing excess grit will help keep things clean as you work.
If you have time, consider letting your kale sit in cold water for 10 minutes or so prior to freezing. The added time should soften leaves up enough that they become easier to cut into pieces after they’ve been frozen.
Step 2: Cut it: Now that your kale is clean, you can move on to cutting it up into manageable pieces for freezing. If possible, use an extremely sharp knife when doing so; while there are several ways you can cut up leaves (strips? cubes? crumbles?), you’ll find that smaller pieces will freeze faster than larger ones. For example, if you were making kale chips out of your frozen produce, small crumbles would be ideal.
However, if you were planning on adding chopped kale to soups or smoothies, strips might be more convenient. Also, keep in mind how much space you have available for storage you don’t want to end up with too much or too little once everything has thawed.
Once you’re done chopping, place your prepared kale pieces onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Be sure to spread them out evenly across the surface of the tray.
Pro Tip: Don’t throw away those leftover stems! Although many people like to discard them due to their fibrous texture, you can actually save them for later use by placing them into a resealable plastic bag and storing them in your freezer until needed.
They make great additions to homemade stocks and broths. Step 3: Freeze it: At last, you’re ready to start freezing your kale. To do so, simply pop your baking sheet into your freezer and leave it there for anywhere between one hour and three days (depending on how long you plan on keeping it).
During that time, try not to open the door of your freezer very often; every time you do so, temperature fluctuations occur which could negatively impact how well-frozen food stays preserved. When you’re ready to enjoy your kale, just take it out of the freezer and let it thaw at room temperature.
You can also speed up the process by submerging your food in a bowl of cold water, but remember that some nutrients will leach out during this process. For best results, only thaw what you need immediately ideally no more than 1/2 cup at a time.
And, of course, if you have a microwave on hand, you can always give that a shot. Just be careful to avoid overcooking your kale and watch for signs of spattering as you heat it up. Step 4: Enjoy it: After your kale has thawed, feel free to add it to your favorite recipes or snack on it right out of the bag.
No matter how you choose to eat it, though, know that its nutritional benefits will remain intact even after being frozen.
Step 2: Cut out stems and slice
To prepare your kale for freezing, first cut out any stems and then slice them into pieces. The smaller you cut it, the easier it will be to use later on in a recipe.
Keep in mind that if you’re planning on adding these pieces to a soup or broth-based dish, they’ll need to be slightly bigger than if you were just going to add them raw into a smoothie. Once you have all your pieces cut, place them in a large bowl or container.
You can also layer each piece with parchment paper as an extra precaution against freezer burn (this is especially important if you plan on using your frozen kale within three months).
Finally, once you’ve added all your pieces to one big container, pour enough olive oil over the top so that every piece is coated. This step helps keep moisture from escaping and forming ice crystals. Now your kale is ready to go into the freezer.
If you’re making more than one batch at a time, make sure to label each container so that you don’t accidentally thaw out two different batches by mistake.
It’s better to freeze your kale in smaller portions so that you don’t have to defrost a huge amount before you can start cooking with it.
One pound of kale yields about 2 cups when thawed, which means four servings. That way, when you want to cook something up quickly and easily, you won’t end up having to throw away half a bag because there wasn’t enough left after dinner.
However, some people prefer to freeze their kale in larger portions if you fall into that category, then consider dividing your frozen kale between several bags so that each bag contains a cup of frozen kale.
Regardless of how much you decide to put into each bag or container, it’s always a good idea to stick them back in the freezer immediately after pouring on some olive oil. This way, you know that your kale is staying fresh and delicious until you’re ready to use it.
When you do pull it out again, simply let it thaw overnight in your refrigerator before starting to cook with it. Then enjoy.
Step 3: Spread in a single layer on baking sheets (no overlapping)
Many recipes call for kale leaves stripped from their stems, but you may also wish to freeze leafy bunches whole. For whole bunches, break or cut off any tough stems and rinse under cool water. Remove excess moisture by spreading in a single layer on baking sheets (no overlapping).
Cover with parchment paper, then slide into your freezer until completely frozen, at least 4 hours. When completely frozen, transfer leaves to zipper-lock bags or plastic containers with airtight lids. Label and date each bag. Frozen kale will keep up to 1 year.
To use, thaw at room temperature or in cold water; drain well before using. You can blanch kale ahead of time: Add 1 pound of cleaned, stemmed kale leaves to boiling water; cook for 30 seconds. Drain and plunge into ice water; drain again.
Dry thoroughly on paper towels before freezing as directed above. Alternatively, if you prefer to freeze pre-blanched kale, add 2 pounds of washed and dried kale leaves to boiling water; cook for 2 minutes. Drain and plunge into ice water; drain again.
Dry thoroughly on paper towels before freezing as directed above. Both blanched and unblanched kale freezes beautifully you just need to remember that pre-blanched takes less time in step 3.
If you want an easy way to prepare it all beforehand, try my friend’s awesome method. The nice thing about blanching is that it breaks down cell walls, so your finished product is softer and more tender than unblanched kale.
It’s also easier to chop when frozen. It does take a little extra time, though, so I usually don’t bother unless I have several big bunches of kale ready to go. Once blanched or not, your kale should be totally dry before freezing otherwise it won’t store well.
This is one of those places where I recommend investing in good kitchen equipment like a salad spinner, which makes drying produce super fast and easy.
Or you could just pat them dry with clean dish towels. As always, make sure to label and date everything before popping it in the freezer. That way, when you pull out a container months later, you’ll know exactly what’s inside without having to taste-test every baggie.
And here are some additional tips on how to freeze other veggies: Slice vegetables thinly for best results. If you’re freezing corn, leave ears whole and husks intact. Blanch corn for 5 minutes; shock in ice water; remove silk and husks immediately after blanching.
Cut kernels from cob immediately after shocking corn, let stand 15 minutes to allow the juice to settle back into kernels, then package loosely in freezer bags or other containers that allow maximum air circulation. Store in the freezer for up to 9 months.
Cooked carrots and peas freeze nicely, too. Cook carrots in a saucepan of lightly salted water for 8 to 10 minutes or until crisp-tender; drain and chill quickly in ice water. Let stand 15 minutes; drain and package loosely in freezer bags or other containers that allow maximum air circulation. Store in the freezer for up to 9 months.
Cook peas according to package directions; chill quickly in ice water. Let stand 15 minutes; drain and package loosely in freezer bags or other containers that allow maximum air circulation. Store in the freezer for up to 9 months.
Peel, core, and slice apples into a bowl of water with a splash of lemon juice or vinegar. Soak for 10 minutes; drain and package loosely in freezer bags or other containers that allow maximum air circulation.
Store in the freezer for up to 9 months. Wash berries gently; pat dry with paper towels. Arrange on a rimmed baking sheet lined with wax paper; freeze until solid, then transfer to zipper-lock bags or other containers that allow maximum air circulation. Store in the freezer for up to 12 months.
Step 4: Put baking sheets in the freezer until frozen solid
Freezing keeps food fresh for longer, and frozen fruits and vegetables actually retain more nutrients than refrigerated ones. This is because freezing essentially stops a fruit or vegetable’s life cycle in its tracks.
So if you have a bunch of kale that’s about to go bad in your fridge, or need products for a recipe, it’s not too late just freeze it! Simply place your kale on a baking sheet and place it in your freezer until completely frozen solid.
Then transfer it to an airtight container or plastic bag and return it to your freezer. It will keep there for up to three months. If you want smaller portions, simply cut your kale into manageable pieces before freezing.
And remember: Frozen veggies are just as good as fresh when they’re cooked with other ingredients; just add them toward the end of cooking time so they don’t get mushy.
What You’ll Need: – 2 tablespoons olive oil – 1/2 cup honey – 2 tablespoons soy sauce – 1 teaspoon garlic powder – Zest from one lemon (optional) – Salt and pepper, to taste Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil, then add chicken thighs in a single layer; season with salt and pepper. Cook until browned on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Remove chicken from pan; set aside.
Add broccoli florets to the same pan; cook for 3 minutes or until lightly browned and tender-crisp, stirring occasionally. Transfer broccoli to a plate lined with paper towels; set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together honey, soy sauce, garlic powder, and lemon zest (if using).
Pour mixture into the same pan used to cook chicken; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer for 4 minutes or until slightly thickened. Return chicken and broccoli florets to pan; toss gently to coat with glaze. Serve immediately over rice if desired.
*Nutrition Facts* Servings Per Recipe: 4 Amount Per Serving Calories 631 Total Fat 28g Saturated Fat 7g Cholesterol 104mg Sodium 715mg Carbohydrate 54g Dietary Fiber 8g Sugars 35g Protein 31g *Nutrition facts are an estimate based on ingredients that we are familiar with.
They may not be accurate depending on what brands you use or modifications you make to a recipe. For the most accurate calculations, please weigh out all ingredients using a digital kitchen scale.
We strive to provide accurate nutritional information but these figures should be considered estimates only.
Step 5: Transfer frozen kale pieces into labeled freezer bags for storage
When you are ready to use your frozen kale, remove it from the freezer and defrost it in a bowl on your kitchen counter for 1-2 hours. You can do other things while you wait for it to thaw! Then simply add frozen kale pieces into salads or stir-fries for a nutrient boost.
Another option is to make some kale chips! Here’s how: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove kale leaves from stems and tear them into bite-size pieces (leaves should be at least 2 inches long). Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and any other seasonings that sound good to you (we love garlic powder!).
Spread onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (you may need two sheets depending on how much kale you have). Bake for 8-10 minutes until crisp. Remove from oven and let cool before eating. Store baked kale chips in an airtight container for up to one week. Enjoy!