Brassica oleracea var acephala
Kale is also known as Boerenkool (Dutch), Cavolo Nero, Scottish Kale, Kail (Scottish),
Kale is closer to the wild cabbage. It is a leafy vegetable with a central stem and alternating leaves that do not form a head. The leaves are curly at the margins and the vegetable has a stronger flavour and coarser texture compared to the more delicate cabbage. It doesn’t shrink when cooked as much as other greens (spinach).
Facts about Kale
Most Kales are either annuals or biennials, depending on where they’re grown
Kale is a hardy plant. It can be left in the ground over winter and its flavour, actually improves with frost.
Kale freezes well and tastes sweeter and more flavourful after being exposed to frost.
Colour of leaves: The most common variety is deep green but other kales are yellow-green, red or purple with plain or ruffled leaves.
Coloured varieties are sometimes called salad savoy and are also often grown for ornamental purposes but are edible.
Common types of kale include: Scots Kale, Blue Curled Kale, Covolo nero (Black cabbage, Tuscan cabbage, Tuscan Kale or dinosaur Kale), portuguese kale, marrow stemmed kale.
In the USA, the principal kale growing states are Virginia, Maryland, and New Jersey
Culinary Use of Kale
In the Western world the leaves are mostly processed and frozen or canned.
Tender Kale leaves: are good for salads.
Kale can be baked or dehydrated to give consistency of potato chip.
In the Netherlands, kale is used in traditional dish ‘stamppot’ which is a mix of vegetables and mashed potatoes, sometimes with fried bits of bacon served with rookworst (smoked sausage).
In Ireland a traditional dish, Colcannon, consisting of Kale (or cabbage) and mashed potatoes is served with sausage during halloween.
In Italy, Lacinato covolo nero (black kale, Tuscan Kale) is used as an ingredient in Tuscan soup ribolita.
In Portugal kale leaves are used to prepare a traditional dish ‘Caldo Verde, a thick, dark green soup. This soup is also made in Angola and Mozambique, in Africa.
In East and Southern Africa, the thick midribs and petioles are removed then the leaves are shredded and cooked with other ingredients like onions, tomatoes, garlic, hot peppers and sometimes ground peanut or ground sesame is added too.
In East Africa, kale it is an essential ingredient in making a stew for ugali, which is almost always eaten with kale and, beef or chicken stew.
In South Africa. kale with coconut milk and ground peanuts is served with rice or cornmeal.
In Southern USA kale is braised alone, or mixed with other greens e.g. collard , mustard or turnip.
Kale leaves can also be dried and used later (Africa).
Nutrition of Kale
100 g (3.5 oz) of cooked Kale: provides 28 calories and the following RDA of Vitamin K (778%), Vitamin C (49%) and is also a source of carotenoids lutein and Zeaxanthin (85%)
Kale and Cancer
Leaf cabbages like Kale contain high levels of glucosinolates, which during preparation form compounds with antioxidant and anticancer activities.
Experiments showed, some of these compounds inhibited cancer growth, some blocked cancer causing compounds and other prevented formation of carcinogens.
Important Kale Sites for further reading: