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Can you use frozen kale for juice?

Kale is a nutritious leafy green that can be a great addition to fresh juices. Some people prefer to use frozen kale in their juices rather than fresh kale. Using frozen vegetables like kale can provide some advantages as well as some potential drawbacks compared to fresh produce. In this article, we’ll look at whether it’s a good idea to use frozen kale for juicing and provide some tips if you do want to go the frozen route.

Advantages of Using Frozen Kale for Juice

There are a few potential benefits to using frozen kale instead of fresh kale for juices:

  • Convenience – Frozen kale is pre-chopped and ready to go. You don’t have to wash, stem, and chop fresh kale before juicing.
  • Consistent quality – The quality and nutrition of fresh kale can deteriorate over time after harvesting. Frozen kale is frozen at peak ripeness.
  • Extended shelf life – An unopened bag of frozen kale can last 8-10 months in the freezer. Fresh kale lasts about 5-7 days in the fridge.
  • Year-round availability – Frozen kale provides an option for juicing even when fresh kale is out of season in your area.
  • Lower cost – Frozen vegetables are often cheaper pound for pound than fresh.

So if you want an easy, fast option for juicing kale that may save you time and money, frozen kale can be a good choice.

Potential Drawbacks of Frozen Kale for Juicing

However, there are some potential downsides to keep in mind when using frozen versus fresh kale for juices:

  • Nutrient loss – Some nutrients like vitamin C and B vitamins can degrade over time when frozen. Fresh kale juice may contain higher levels of certain nutrients.
  • Texture – Frozen kale may produce a thicker, pulpier juice compared to fresh leaves.
  • Unwanted ingredients – Some frozen kale contains added salt or other flavorings. Check the label for any unwanted add-ins.
  • Higher oxidation – Blending thawed frozen kale exposes more surface area and may create more oxidation than fresh kale.

So while more convenient, frozen kale may come with some trade-offs in nutrition, texture, and flavor depending on the product.

Tips for Using Frozen Kale in Juices

If you do want to use frozen kale for juicing, here are some tips to get the best results:

  • Select frozen chopped kale rather than frozen whole leaf kale. The chopped variety will blend up more smoothly.
  • Make sure the kale is thoroughly thawed and drained before juicing to minimize excess water content.
  • Mix the frozen kale with firmer fresh produce like carrots or apples. This helps compensate for the softer texture of thawed kale.
  • Consume the juice right away rather than storing to minimize nutrient degradation.
  • Add a squeeze of lemon juice to help prevent oxidation.
  • Use a masticating juicer rather than a centrifugal model. Masticating juicers are gentler on frozen produce.

Nutrition Comparison of Fresh vs. Frozen Kale

So how much nutrition do you lose by using frozen versus fresh kale? Here is a comparison of some key nutrients in raw fresh kale versus frozen chopped kale per 100g serving (Source: USDA):

Nutrient Fresh Raw Kale Frozen Chopped Kale
Calories 49 32
Protein (g) 4.3 2.2
Fiber (g) 3.6 2.0
Vitamin C (mg) 120 43.5
Vitamin K (mcg) 1021 806
Folate (mcg) 16 10
Calcium (mg) 150 101

As you can see, fresh raw kale contains significantly more vitamin C, but frozen kale still retains a good amount of vitamins K, A, and calcium.

Best Fruits and Vegetables to Pair with Kale

To make the most delicious and nutritious kale juices, it’s helpful to blend kale with fruits and vegetables that complement its flavor profile. Here are some of the best produce pairings for kale juice:

  • Apples – Sweet apples provide flavor and mask bitterness from kale. They also add pectin fiber.
  • Cucumber – Cucumber water content helps dilute kale’s thickness. It has mild flavor.
  • Carrots – Carrots add sweetness and texture. Combine with kale in a 2:1 ratio for best flavor.
  • Celery – Celery adds mineral salts that balance kale’s mineral content. It has a mild flavor.
  • Ginger – Ginger spice helps mask strong kale taste. It aids digestion.
  • Lemon – Lemon brightens flavor and helps prevent browning of kale juice.
  • Parsley – Parsley contains antioxidants and balances bitter, earthy kale notes.
  • Spinach – Mixing spinach with kale reduces oxalates and creates a smooth, green juice.

Experiment with ingredient ratios to find your perfect kale juice blends.

Recommended Kale Juice Recipes

Here are 3 tasty and nutritious kale juice recipes to try at home:

1. Apple Kale Juice

  • 3 cups chopped kale leaves
  • 2 apples, cored and quartered
  • 1 cucumber, peeled
  • 1-inch knob fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1 lemon, peeled

2. Orange Carrot Kale Juice

  • 2 cups chopped kale leaves
  • 3 carrots, topped and tailed
  • 1 orange, peeled
  • 1⁄2 lemon, peeled
  • 1-inch knob fresh turmeric, peeled (optional)

3. Tropical Kale Juice

  • 2 cups chopped kale leaves
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks
  • 1 orange, peeled
  • 1⁄2 lemon, peeled
  • 1-inch knob fresh ginger, peeled
  • Dash cayenne pepper

Storing Kale Juice

For best quality and nutrition retention, it’s best to drink homemade kale juice immediately after making it. However, you can store kale juice in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 24-48 hours.

To maximize freshness, be sure to fill the container to the very top to minimize air exposure. You can also add a squeeze of lemon juice to help prevent oxidation.

Kale juice often separates into layers when stored, with the sediment settling at the bottom. Make sure to shake or stir the juice before drinking to recombine.

Note that juicing removes the insoluble fiber content from kale. So drinking juice should not replace eating whole vegetables and fruits. Aim to incorporate both juicing and eating whole produce as part of a healthy diet.

Conclusion

Using frozen kale for juicing can be a convenient and budget-friendly option compared to fresh. However, fresh kale maximizes nutrition and flavor. If using frozen, select a chopped variety and blend with fruits like apples and oranges to mask unfavorable flavor. Drink kale juices promptly or store for no more than 48 hours to retain nutrients. Incorporate both juicing and eating whole fruits and veggies for optimal health.