Monday, January 4, 2010

True Siberian Kale - over-wintered in my Nipissing garden

Kale is said to be one of the oldest cultivated vegetables.  This leafy green vegetable belongs to the Brassica family, a group of vegetables including broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage and collards.  I hadn't eaten much of it before the past few years.  I still see it used as a garnish on salad bars and it seems a waste of such a spectacular vegetable.  It is delicious both raw and cooked, has a long growing season and is really good for you!  The photo above shows the True Siberian Kale in a harvest salad. 


I snapped the picture above of the kale in my spring garden late in May, 2009.  I started these plants from seed in the garden very early that April.  Kale can tolerate frost and even thrives in cooler temperatures.  Shortly after that we started eating!  Tender and delicious.

The photo below shows the same variety of kale but plants that were started spring 2008.  I ordered the seeds from the Cottage Gardener in Newtonville, Ontario.  It is not easy to find vegetables that over-winter in my climate. 

At the time I was a  bit perplexed as I hadn't expected it to come back.  Once I saw the new growth I was hoping that 25% of the plants over-wintered but by July they have all sprouted shoots and come alive again. I sprinkled another pack of seeds in the patch to have new plants for this season. It is obviously extremely hardy and the company states it can be wintered over in some areas. I also tried a red kale last year but it did not thrive the way this one does. 

True Siberian Kale to me tastes like a mild broccoli and does not require much cooking at all. It has ruffled, blue-green leaves. I use the leaves in salad, soup and stir-fries. I also sauteed with garlic and olive oil and froze in bags for use this winter.

Some recipes say to boil kale for 20 minutes.  I wouldn't insult any kale with such rigorous treatment!  Boiling would also destroy a lot of the beneficial nutrients.  Just a quick rinse under cold water and steam or stir-fry and it is cooked in minutes. 

I also dried a lot of the crop in my food dehydrator.  I am stilll eating the frozen batch but I will soon see how well it re-hydrates and what creations they can be used in.  Home-made kale chips are the rage lately and I was happy to be able to make my own.


The dietitian in me leads me to highlight the nutritional virtues of food.  Food is medicine and I think this is something that is often over-looked.  Kale is easy to grow and the mature leaves are a good source of glucosinolates which activate detoxification enzymes in the liver which can help protect you from carcinogens.  Kale is also high in carotenoids, such as lutein and zeaxanthin.  Eat a little oil or nuts with your kale to help you absorb more of the fat-soluble vitamins and carotenoids.

NUTRITION FACTS (1 cup/250 ml of raw, chopped kale): 40 calories, 0 g fat, 30 mg sodium, 8 g carbohydrate, 2 g fibre, 1 g natural sugar and 1 g protein. %Daily Values are 60% vitamin A, 70% vitamin C, 4% each calcium and iron.

© Nancy Guppy, RD, MHSc
Visit historic Nipissing village and socialize over fine food. Please see my menus and registration details at Chapman's Landing Cooking Studio.


Laura said...

I blanched and placed on a large baking sheet pan and froze in my deep freezer. Once frozen, I broke into small pieces and stored in ziplock bags in the freezer for future use (ie: soups, stews etc. I unfortunately used to be one of those who only used it for garnish!! Now more wiser and love to eat it!

Nate @ House of Annie said...

Thanks for the excellent info on Kale.

If you happen to cook with some (or anything else from your garden) this month, I'd love to include it in our Grow Your Own roundup.

Dr John said...

Wonderful photos and a very healthy looking garden. And yes, food-is-medicine, especially if it's tasty.

In Santa Barbara, CA, much to the south of you, my Russian Kale seedlings are growing slowly, even here in January in a huge planter. The cold sweetens crucifers.

Keep up the great work.

Nancy Guppy, MHSc, RD said...

Hi Dr. La Puma! I have your book Chef MD's Big Book of Culinary Medicine. I like it a lot and it is a quick table top reference I use.

los cinco nomads said...

Your Siberian Kale story sounds similar to mine. I've learned to love the stuff especially as chips and often will share a plateful with my son. We live west of Toronto a little.

Nancy Guppy, MHSc, RD said...

I froze a lot of kale this year and also dehydrated a fair amount we can use in winter soups and stews. This kale keeps on growing and has provided me eating for at least 3 years. I started a new crop over at the chicken coop last summer (I don't have chickens anymore) as they eventually die out. I think it is a must have plant for those who live in the north and want kale late in the year... I picked my last batch just before Christmas.

Anonymous said...

My kids love Kale so we are growing some. Is it normal for Siberian Kale to have some spiny fuzz on it? I don't recall kale ever having that. The leaves seem rough to the touch as well.

Nancy Guppy, MHSc, RD said...

@anonymous. Sorry never saw this comment from last June. The Siberian kale doesn't have fuzz or much in the way of spines. Type I like to grow is a lot like broccoli leaves