Can you freeze fresh uncooked kale?


Kale is a leafy green vegetable that has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its stellar nutritional profile. This hearty green is packed with vitamins A, C, and K as well as minerals like calcium, potassium, and magnesium. It also contains powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.

One of the best things about kale is its versatility. You can eat it raw in salads, roast or sauté it as a side dish, blend it into smoothies, or mix it into soups, stews, and casseroles. With so many options, it’s no wonder kale has become a staple vegetable for health-conscious eaters.

However, like most fresh produce, kale is perishable and has a relatively short shelf life. If you want to buy kale in bulk or stock up when it’s in season, you may be wondering if you can freeze it for longer storage.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about freezing fresh, uncooked kale. We’ll discuss proper storage methods, how long it keeps frozen, changes in texture and taste, and the best ways to use frozen kale. Let’s dive in!

Can You Freeze Kale?

The short answer is yes, you can absolutely freeze fresh, uncooked kale for longer term storage. Freezing is an excellent way to extend the shelf life of leafy greens like kale while retaining most of their nutritional value.

When frozen properly, kale can maintain its quality and freshness for about 6 to 12 months in the freezer. The cold temperature slows down the deterioration process to help preserve the kale.

Freezing uncooked kale also offers some advantages over other preservation methods:

  • It’s faster and easier than canning kale.
  • It retains more nutrients than drying kale.
  • It doesn’t require blanching like freezing cooked kale.
  • It preserves the fresh, bright green color better than refrigerating long-term.

So if you want to always have kale on hand or stock up while it’s in season, freezing is a simple and effective storage solution.

Choosing Kale for Freezing

When selecting kale to freeze, there are a few things to keep in mind:

Quality: Choose fresh, crisp kale with vibrant, deeply colored leaves. Avoid any yellowing, wilting, spots, or other signs of deterioration. Young, tender kale freezes better than old, tough leaves.

Type: Curly green kale and lacinato (dinosaur) kale are best for freezing. More delicate varieties like red Russian kale don’t hold up as well.

Wash: Rinse kale under cool water just before freezing. Don’t wash too far in advance or leaves will get soggy. Pay attention to dirt in crevices.

Dry: Pat leaves dry with a towel or use a salad spinner. Excess moisture can cause freezing damage.

Remove Stems: Cut or tear leaves away from thick, fibrous stems which can become tough when frozen. Compost stems.

Cut: Chop leaves into bite-sized pieces for easier use after freezing. Stack and roll leaves before slicing into ribbons.

Following these simple tips will help ensure your frozen kale retains optimum flavor, texture, color, and nutrients.

How to Freeze Kale

Freezing kale is simple and only requires a few steps. Here are two recommended methods:

Method 1: Raw, Loose Pack

  1. Wash and thoroughly dry kale leaves.
  2. Strip leaves from stems and slice/chop into pieces.
  3. Spread pieces out in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  4. Place in freezer until completely frozen, about 2 hours.
  5. Transfer to ziplock freezer bags or airtight containers.
  6. Remove as much air as possible and seal.
  7. Label with contents and date.
  8. Return to freezer immediately.

Method 2: Raw, Vacuum Sealed

  1. Wash and dry kale thoroughly.
  2. Remove stems, slice leaves into pieces.
  3. Pack tightly into vacuum sealer bags, removing excess air.
  4. Seal bags using a vacuum sealer machine.
  5. Label bags and place flat in freezer.

Vacuum sealing is ideal for long-term freezing, as it protects against freezer burn. But ziplock bags work fine for everyday freezing needs.

In either case, frozen kale can be stored in the freezer for 6 to 12 months. Pack in recipe-sized portions for easy use.

Frozen Kale Texture and Taste

Freezing kale does change the vegetable’s texture and taste slightly. Here’s what to expect:

Texture: The leaves will be softer and more delicate. Frozen kale loses its crisp, raw texture. Thawing brings back some firmness but not completely.

Color: Bright green color is mostly retained, especially with vacuum sealing. Some darker spots can develop. Blanching before freezing preserves more vibrancy.

Flavor: Natural sweet, earthy flavor remains intact but muted. Less grassy, bitter notes come through after freezing.

Nutrients: Some vitamin C and B vitamins are lost during freezing but most antioxidants, vitamins A, K plus minerals like calcium and iron are retained.

While not identical to fresh, frozen kale still carries great nutrition in an easy, convenient form. The trade-off of texture and mild flavor changes is usually worth being able to enjoy kale year-round.

Thawing and Using Frozen Kale

Once frozen, kale needs to be thawed before use. Here are some thawing tips:

– In the refrigerator: Thaw overnight in the refrigerator for best texture.

– Cold water: Submerge sealed bag in cold water for 1 to 2 hours. Change water every 30 mins.

– Microwave: Microwave vacuum sealed bags in 10 second increments. Check often to avoid overcooking edges.

– As you cook: Add frozen kale directly to soups, stews, casseroles. No thawing needed.

Avoid leaving kale to thaw on the counter, as exposure to warmer temperatures increases loss of nutrients and growth of bacteria.

Thawed kale is softened so it’s no longer ideal for raw salads. Use it instead for:

  • Sautéing, stir-fries
  • Casseroles, gratins
  • Soups, stews, chili
  • Smoothies, green drinks
  • Bakes, frittatas, omelets
  • Pasta dishes

Cook thawed kale for best results in terms of texture and flavor. The softened leaves integrate beautifully into cooked dishes.

Storing Frozen Kale

For best quality and nutrition retention, store frozen kale properly by:

– Keeping at 0°F or colder

– Monitoring freezer temperature

– Avoiding refrigerator freezer section which may not be cold enough

– Minimizing air exposure by sealing tightly in bags/containers

– Using oldest kale first and not over-stocking freezer

– Keeping frozen kale away from freezer door/walls which fluctuate in temperature when opened

– Defrosting only as much as needed at one time

Following proper freezing, thawing, and storage methods, the nutritional content and flavor of kale can be maintained for use long after harvest season is over.


Freezing fresh, uncooked kale is an excellent way to preserve this highly nutritious vegetable to enjoy year-round. Properly frozen kale retains much of its vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant content. While the texture softens and flavor mutes slightly when frozen, kale still packs a nutritional punch when thawed and cooked.

With a few simple preparation steps like washing, drying, and stripping stems before freezing leaves in a single layer or vacuum sealed bags, fresh kale can be frozen successfully at home. Frozen properly, it will maintain quality in the freezer for up to a year. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using thawed kale in cooked dishes like stir-fries, soups, and casseroles.

Freezing lets you stock up on kale when it’s in peak season and affordably priced. Having a stash of frozen kale on hand makes it easy to enjoy this powerhouse vegetable all year long and boost your meals with its many health benefits.

Storage Time Texture Color Flavor Nutrition
1-3 months Very tender Bright green Mildly sweet Well retained
4-6 months Soft Green with some dark spots Muted, earthy Mostly retained
7-12 months Mushy Dull, olive green Lost flavor Degraded over time

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *