Blanched Kale For a Softer, Easier to Chew Kale Experience
According to their huge jaws, cavemen must’ve eaten a lot of raw kale.
Because kale and stems can be pretty tough to chew.
It wasn’t until humans started farming and cooking food that our jaws began to shrink. Now it’s not so easy to chomp on raw kale unless you’re a boxer trying to strengthen your jaw.
Luckily, us advanced humans (yes, you’re an “advanced human”) figured out some tricks – like blanching – for softening food. Blanching kale before eating will help minimize caveman jaw.
Blanched kale stems and leaves make a perfect side dish after tossing with some olive oil and vinegar or lemon. It’s a great change-up to the raw kale salad. Plus, you’ll seem like a magician to your dinner mates for softening up tough to chew kale stems that often end up in the trash.
Looping back on cavemen… Unfortunately, our teeth didn’t have time to catch up to our smaller jaws. This is why so many of us (like me in 8th grade) needed braces.
How to Blanch Kale: Video
Kale Blanching FAQs
What is Blanching?
Blanching is immersing food in boiling water for a short period of time (typically just a minute or two). In many cases, the blanched food is then cooked further using another technique.
In addition, the blanched food is often immediately submerged into an ice bath after blanching to stop the cooking process.
For example, you may want to blanch broccoli for a minute or two in boiling water before cooking in a pan. This will help soften the thick stalks which would otherwise be difficult to fully cook in the pan.
One way to think of blanching is as a way to precook certain foods.
When Should I Blanch Kale?
Raw kale is fibrous, bitter and can be tough to chew. Blanching it helps soften its fibers and bitterness while making it easier to chew.
You definitely don’t always have to blanch kale. In fact, I don’t very often. But, it can be useful when you want to create a quick side dish or freeze kale for later use.
After blanching and drying, you can store kale in the freezer for up to 8 months. This is a great addition to smoothies or soups.
If you want to use up an entire bunch of kale (stems too!) without adding the blanching step, check out one of these recipes:
How Can I Use Blanched Kale?
You have a few options on how to consumer blanched kale. Here are a few ideas:
- Add to a smoothie
- Top with oil and vinegar or lemon for a simple kale salad
- Top with one of these easy homemade dressings
- Dry, place in a bag, and freeze for up to 8 months
- Substitute for raw kale in grain bowls like this one with quinoa and avocado
Can I Blanch Kale Stems?
Blanching kale stems is basically the reason I am writing this. I hate wasting food. And kale stems always seem to be leftover.
Kale stems can be tough to eat. Blanching will help soften and make them easier to chew. After blanching, either give them a squirt of lemon and glug of olive oil or finish them off by sauteing them in a hot pan.
What Type of Kale Should I Blanch?
You can use any type of kale. Curly kale is the most widely available and the one you are probably picturing in your head. Lacinate / Tuscan / Dino kale, Redbor (or Red), and Red Russian kale varieties can also be blanched following this method.
Read more about the different types of kale in this Kale 101 article here.
How Long Should I Blanch Kale Stems and Kale Leaves?
Blanching is a quick process. You just need to blanch leaves for about 1 minute and stems for about 2 minutes.
Should I Add Salt to the Blanching Water?
If you ever boil pasta, you know adding salt to the pot is a must. The salt will better penetrate the pasta during the cooking process. Adding salt to blanching water works the same way.
You don’t necessarily need to salt the water, but adding a few tablespoons will enhance the flavor of the kale. This is especially important if you’re eating the kale blanched only. If you’re following up blanching with sauteing or another cooking method, feel free to omit the salt. But be sure to season throughout the rest of your cooking.
How to Blanch Kale
- 1 bunch kale, stems and leaves separated
- Bring a pot of salted water (about 1 tbsp kosher salt per gallon of water) to a boil. If you have an insert, use it.
- Add kale stems to pot and boil for 1 minute.
- Add kale leaves to pot and boil leaves and stems for 2 minutes.
- Drain kale by either pouring over a strainer or colander, removing from pot with a slotted spoon, or removing perforated pot insert.
- Squeeze kale with your hands or a towel to remove excess moisture.
- Roughly chop stems and leaves. Serve with a light dressing and a few pinches of salt. Alternatively, store kale in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or freeze for up to 8 months.
Blanching Kale Is So Easy, a Caveman Could Do It
Sometimes, all it takes is an extra tiny step to turn a dish into something you actually want to eat. Blanching is that extra tiny step in this case.
The best part is once you know how to blanch kale, you can blanch any vegetable. The only thing that changes is the amount of time you keep it submerged in the boiling water.
There you go, another tool in your cooking tool belt. And the confidence that comes with knowing how to turn a healthy vegetable into something delicious.
More Kale Because It’s Good For Ya
Everything you need to know about eating, buying, storing, cooking, and using kale. Plus, why you should.
- Kale 101: Everything You Need to Know to Buy, Store, Cook, and Eat Kale
- 12 Health Benefits of Kale: Why You Should Eat More Kale
- Everyday Simple Kale Salad
- Quick Sauteed Kale With Garlic and Sesame
- Anchovy and Garlic Braised Kale
- Roasted Kale Chips In the Oven
- Simple Chickpea and Kale Salad With Avocado
- Red Pepper, Potato, and Ricotta Frittata
- Healthy Kale and Egg Fried Rice
- Creamy Vegan Kale and Cauliflower Soup
- Baked Sausages With Kale, Apple, and Onion
2 thoughts on “How to Blanch Kale Leaves and Stems”
This is a game-changer. The drudgery of prepping kale stops me from adding it to foods. I buy pre-washed and chopped organic kale (Aldi) and it annoys me to take the zillion stems off, but I don’t like them in my food. You inspired me to blanch this kale, which was the perfect antidote to this problem. I have added kale to so many meals now because I don’t have to de-stem it and it is already prepped and ready. Thank you for this terrific idea.
Glad you found this helpful! Pre chopped kale can be both a blessing and a curse for the reason you mentioned. One other option you may want to try is chopping or slicing it into the smallest pieces you can. Then sauteing in a pan similar to this Quick Sauteed Kale With Garlic and Sesame recipe. Since the stem pieces will be so small, they will cook through a bit better. And the liquid will also help soften them more.