Kale is a staple in our garden. I wouldn’t say it is a staple in our kitchen but every now and again it turns up in a dish and we are pleased that we have it in the garden. The chickens and the goat also appreciate the kale in our garden.
It is a great crop because you plant it in spring and it just sits there and grows, all year round until the following spring when it starts to bolt and has lovely yellow flowers that make the bees happy when there isn’t much else out there. But by the time it gets to this point it has overstayed its welcome as its home for the last year needs to be freshened up for new occupants. I try to leave it as long as I can for the benefit of the bees, and as a crop on borrowed time there is invariably an increased interest in it in the kitchen. But at some point enough is enough and it has to go.
The tender flowering tips go to the chickens and the tough old manky leaves go to the goat. But the bit in the middle – the nice leaves, go to the kitchen. I give them a really good wash as there are usually some kind of hitchhiker in there. Although this time only one earwig crawled out of the sink and across the bench. I have to say, as I was washing them I realised there were no whitefly also enjoying the last of the kale – sucking what remaining life was left in it and erupting in clouds of white winged fury, annoyed at being disturbed by just daring to walk past them. I’m pleased they didn’t show up this year, they can be such a pain to deal with.
Then it is a whiz in the salad spinner to remove as much of the moisture as possible and then onto oven trays in a thin single layer. Ordinarily I’d use a dehydrator but with kale on this scale you have to level it up, so into the oven they went. It was set at 100°C for a low and slow process of turning them to a crisp without burning them. It took a couple of hours, checking every once and a while and rearranging them in the trays.
The plan is to use them to crush up into whatever meal takes my whim to add extra nutrients for the next wee while – until the new kale starts producing in abundance again. Having said that, fresh from the oven a large dent was put in the crisp kale pile as we snacked on them. They have the same satisfying crunch you would get from potato chips, only healthier.
And now I can feel good about making good use of a crop from the garden, even though it was on its last legs and the bed it was in is now ready for new crops.
Come again soon – the season is marching on, and jobs are popping up all over the place.
Sarah the Gardener : o)