Leafy vegetables, including kale, can be tricky to store. A seemingly minor mistake, such as washing the kale and putting it in the fridge, will cause it to go bad within a day.
How long does kale last? And what is the best way to store it? Prewashed kale stored in a bag will keep well in the fridge for 10 days if unopened and 4 to 5 days after opening the bag. Fresh kale, unwashed and stored in a plastic bag that allows airflow will last up to a week in the fridge. Cooked kale has a shelf life of 3 to 5 days and should be stored in the fridge at all times.
Continue reading to learn all about the shelf life and storage conditions of kale and what is the way to make kale keep well for months and even a year.
Does Kale Go Bad?
Kale is a superfood that unfortunately not everyone likes. It may take you days to get to using this vegetable after buying a bunch of it from the farmer’s market or picking up a bag from the supermarket in the attempts of trying to make your shopping experience a little healthy.
Kale does go bad and quite quickly if you don’t keep an eye on it and store it properly.
If you are someone that doesn’t like too much responsibility with the storage conditions of their food, buy kale in bags. But if you are someone after the freshest leafy vegetable, it is best to buy a bunch of kale, i.e. kale in its natural fresh form, unwashed and not bagged. In this case, however, there are a few rules you should keep in mind.
How to Store Kale?
The storage conditions of kale in a bag are very simple and straightforward. You should keep the bag refrigerated at all times as soon as you bring it home.
Whenever you need kale, open the bag, take out as much as you need, and close the bag to keep the kale fresh for the next time you go to use it. Don’t seal the bag tightly. You need to let some air get into the bag as ventilation is key in keeping the kale fresh.
As for fresh kale, the important rule you should keep in mind is that you should wash the kale only when you need it. Washing kale and storing it in the fridge will cause it to go bad very quickly.
Keep fresh kale in a plastic bag. Just like with an opened bag of pre-washed kale, you need to keep fresh kale in a loosely covered bag.
A good thing to do is to put paper towels in the bag with kale. One of the main reasons why fresh kale goes bad when stored in the fridge is water accumulated in the bag. Paper towels will absorb the excess water from the bag and bring the moisture level to a balance.
If green smoothies are your thing and you make them every morning, it is best to go with bagged pre-washed kale. It is incomparably easier to use and will save you a lot of time.
How to Store Cooked Kale?
Cooked kale should always be refrigerated. If you are not eating the kale, wait until it cools off and only then store it in the fridge.
You can store cooked kale in an airtight container or a sealable plastic bag.
When storing cooked kale, it is important to let the leaves dry out before putting them in the fridge. Doing this prevents the leaves from getting overly soft and mushy.
Can You Freeze Kale?
You can freeze fresh kale to extend its shelf. But as you may know, you can’t put a bunch of kale in the freezer as is. The leafy vegetable needs some preparation in order to keep well in the cold storage.
How to Freeze Kale?
First off, start by cleaning and washing the kale. Make sure you wash the leaves under cold running water.
Separate the leaves to avoid leaving any dirt in between them. Some people also use vinegar to wash the kale. Three tablespoons of vinegar mixed with 4 liters of water will be a nice cleaning bath for the kale leaves if you let them sit in it for half an hour.
Once the kale leaves are clean, separate the leaves by removing the stems.
The next step is blanching the kale. You can get away with skipping the blanching process. However, this is a recommended step if you want to preserve the rich green color of the leaves. Additionally, kale has a tendency to get bitter. Blanching is what prevents this from happening.
If you choose to not blanch the kale, leave the stems on.
To blanch kale leaves, boil them for no longer than 2 minutes. Have a bowl filled with ice water nearby. As soon as you take kale leaves out of the boiling water, submerge them in cold water to stop the cooking process. Overcooked kale is not suitable for freezing as it will become too soggy once defrosted.
Let the kale leaves dry on a paper towel. You can also use a salad spinner to make it quick. Once the paper towel has absorbed most of the water, gently squeeze the leaves to get rid of all of it.
Repeat these steps until the leaves are fully dry.
Freeze kale leaves on a tray lined with parchment paper to prevent them from getting stuck to one another. After 1 to 2 hours, transfer the individually frozen kale leaves into freezer bags. Push out as much air as you can from the bag.
Defrosting Frozen Kale
To defrost kale, transfer it from the freezer into the fridge. It is best to do this only an hour before using the kale to prevent it from getting too soggy.
How Long Does Kale Last?
Kale sold in bags lasts the longest. It is usually good for around 7 to 10 days if unopened. Check the date printed on the packaging for accurate information on how long you can keep the particular bag of kale you have purchased.
Once opened, bagged kale will be good for around 5 days.
Properly stored fresh kale will last up to 7 days in the fridge. Cooked kale, on the other hand, keeps well for 3 to 5 days.
Frozen kale that has been blanched will last up to 12 months in the fridge. Kale that hasn’t been blanched has a shorter freezer life. It will keep well for a maximum of 6 months. Remember that vegetables stored in the freezer may remain safe for consumption for much longer. But their flavor and texture qualities significantly deteriorate with time.
How Do You Know If Kale Has Gone Bad?
As with almost all vegetables, if you see too many black spots on the kale then it has gone bad. If there are only a few black spots on the few of the leaves and the rest look good, remove the spotty parts and use the rest.
It is common for kale to lose its dark green color, becoming pale green or yellow. As soon as you notice that the color changing process has started, you should come up with an idea to use up the kale. Otherwise, you will have to toss it out the following day.
Sogginess is also a sign of bad kale. In the worst cases, you will notice an off-odor coming from the kale. In such cases, immediately discard the kale.
How Long Do Kale Chips Last?
Homemade kale chips are an easy and healthy snack. If you have too much kale and don’t know what to do with it, make kale chips.
Kale chips will keep well for up to 3 days so long as you store them in an airtight container.