All it takes is one bite. One bite of a frost-kissed raw kale leaf and your taste buds will come alive as you experience the flavor of sweet winter kale!
Similar to other brassicas such as brussels sprouts, the flavor of kale sweetens after the first fall frost. When outdoor temperatures dip to freezing, kale plants start converting their starches into sugars. The sugars act as a sort of natural anti-freeze solution. This helps the plant survive the colder days of winter. Kale is a versatile vegetable that is delicious, nutritious, and very easy to grow. We hope this post will inspire you to do both this year!
What is Kale?
Kale leaves range in colors from dark green to blue-green, or rich purple to deep burgundy-red. Some plants are white-veined and others are purple-veined. Kale is one gorgeous crop that promises to add beauty and diversity to any garden or farm!
There are many varieties of kale. Each variety has its own unique characteristics and personality. Five different varieties of kale are:
- Lacinato kale
- Winterbor kale
- Redbor kale
- Red Russian kale
- White Russian kale
History of Kale
Kale originated in Asia Minor (Turkey). During the Middle Ages, kale was one of the most common green vegetables in all of Europe. In the 1600s, kale was introduced to the United States.
Today, more people are becoming interested in growing and eating this highly nutritious, cold-hardy crop that has been around for hundreds of years.
Kale can be grown year round. Depending on where you live, kale is often sown in late summer to ensure winter production. If you live in an area where the ground remains frozen for several days at a time during winter, it is a good idea to add a thick layer of mulch over the soil around your kale plants.
If you are brand new growing edibles then check out tip #1 and tip #5 in last week’s blog post for additional help and guidance.
The flavor and texture of kale changes a lot from season to season. The new, young leaves of a kale plant in spring are incredibly tender and flavorful with a hint of sweetness from fall and winter frosts.
In summer kale becomes more bitter and tough, but still boast nutritional benefits. We encourage you to eat home-grown or farm-fresh kale during all four seasons to experience the remarkable changes in flavor. It’s a lot of fun to taste the differences for yourself!
In our next e-newsletter, we will share some tasty from-the-farm recipes that call for kale. Be sure to hop on our mailing list!