Today, I froze some curly Kale.
Like most endeavors that are time consuming, economically equivocal and of dubious utility, this was a labor of love. One may well say the same of raising children, but I digress. You see, earlier this spring, in a fervor of enthusiasm, I broke through the restraints of ice and snow and invested in a fine array of burgeoning seedlings which I bestowed with reckless abandon on the still sodden backyard earth. Amongst the mundane Tomatoes (Big Boy, Cherry and Grape), Peppers (Green, Jalapeno, Purple) and Squash (Yellow Crookneck and Green Zucchini), was a flat of exotic, curly leafed Kale.
I don’t particularly like Kale. In fact, as a child, I positively disliked greens (most children do). Any geneticist knows, however, that with middle age comes the induction of the ILuvGrns gene, likely due to an aging related DNA methyltransferase activation and epigenetic modification of selective gustatory loci. Now, I positively drool over bitter greens, ooh and ahh over baby spinach and rescue the tops of beets instead of letting them wilt away in my not so crisp ‘fridge crisper. I love the virtuous feeling that accompanies eating greens, whether in luscious calorie-laden palak paneer or in a diet-conscious arugula-walnut salad. Like my mother before me, and countless mothers before her, I exhort my kids to ‘just try some’ because ‘it’s good for you’. In this, I do not lie (I do not claim blanket immunity from lying to my kids, only in this specific instance). According to this fascinating site on the nutritional benefits of kale, one serving of this leafy wonder will convey 684% of your daily recommended dose of Vitamin K, not to mention other goodies such as Vitamins A and C. Also, kale is especially rich in manganese! This is of special significance to me, since at this moment, a manuscript co-authored by yours truly entitled, “VESICULAR DISTRIBUTION OF SECRETORY PATHWAY CA2+-ATPASE ISOFORM 1 (SPCA1) AND A ROLE IN MANGANESE DETOXIFICATION IN LIVER-DERIVED POLARIZED CELLS” awaits the judgment of my peers at a reputable scientific journal of tolerable impact factor. I can recklessly consume all the manganese my body craves, safe in the knowledge that an ATPase will transport ionic excesses into the bile and out through my liver, thereby preventing me from developing an unpleasant form of parkinsonism. If this is too much information for my non biochemist readers, suffice it to say that kale does the body good.
Which is why I embarked upon this lengthy endeavor on a Saturday morning, when I should really be doing the laundry and other sundry useful deeds. Encountering a glut, a veritable bumper crop, shall we say a cornucopia of kale harvest, I was faced with the inevitability of overstimulating the Manganese Transporting ATPase in the collective household livers, and an incipient dinner table rebellion. Google to the rescue, as always, and so I learned that Kale freezes marvelously, nay-it prefers to be frozen since this brings out the latent ‘sweetness’ of the green! Thanks to other intrepid bloggers out in the ether, I am now a self proclaimed guru of freezing greens..which is not a job to be taken lightly.
Assuming that you do not want a future slimy mess of thawed chlorophyll, or a frostbitten semblance of tundra lichen, follow this protocol precisely.
1. Bring a large pot of water to boil.
2. Clean and wash greens, keeping a sharp eye for any unwanted sources of insect protein (kale has a respectable amino acid score of 92/100, so bugs not needed).
3. Fold each leaf in half, like closing a book, and chop off the stem and tough part of the vein. Chop coarsely. See, I told you this takes an unwarranted amount of time.
4. Dunk greens in boiling water for 2 minutes while you search for some ice cubes with which to make an ice bath (oops, that was 4 minutes, no matter).
5. Fish out kale leaves with tongs, and quench in ice water. Rumor has it that this process “kills the enzymes that create the bitter flavor” and although no scholarly journal has been cited to back this claim, it seems reasonable to assume that any enzymes were probably denatured during the boiling.
6. Transfer to a salad spinner which is to be found in the far recesses of the topmost shelf of the kitchen cabinet. Let the kids take turns spinning since this is so much fun. Stop them before the leaves are centrifuged into oblivion. This removes excess water. You can skip this step, but what else use is there for that fancy spinner that you never use?
7. Spread out onto a tray and place in freezer. After a few hours, the kale is frozen solid, bright green and still curly.
8. Upon discovering that you are completely out of freezer storage/Ziploc bags, make a trip to the grocery store braving the scorching heat of the afternoon. While at the store, purchase other items that you do not really need since you are there anyway (such as sun dried tomato paste in a toothpaste sized tube). Transfer leaves to freezer bag and replace in freezer with immense feeling of accomplishment.
Remind me to tell you what became of them some other time.
Happy Greens and Much Manganese to you!