Kale — a clas­sic among win­ter vegetables

The kale sea­son begins with the first frost and lasts until March. The win­ter veg­etable can be processed into numer­ous dish­es and not only tastes good, but also does some­thing good for our body. Rich in healthy ingre­di­ents and low in calo­ries, it is con­sid­ered a real superfood. 

The ori­gin, prop­er­ties and his­to­ry of kale

Kale, also called curly kale, feath­ered kale or win­ter kale, is a cul­ti­vat­ed form of cab­bage and, like savoy cab­bage, also belongs to the cru­cif­er­ous fam­i­ly. It is a typ­i­cal win­ter veg­etable and can be bought in stores start­ing in Novem­ber. Cab­bage is har­vest­ed only after the first frosts, because the veg­etable needs cold weath­er to devel­op its tart, sweet fla­vor. Typ­i­cal grow­ing areas are Cen­tral and West­ern Europe, North Amer­i­ca, and East and West Africa. 

Nowa­days, kale is very pop­u­lar due to its high vit­a­min con­tent and numer­ous nutri­ents and, as already men­tioned, is con­sid­ered a real super­food. This poten­tial was rec­og­nized by peo­ple ear­ly on. Already the ancient Greeks and Romans used the cab­bage to cure dis­eases. In ancient Egypt, the win­ter veg­etable was even applied to 83 dis­eases. In some coun­tries, kale was even held in such high esteem that it helped kale farm­ers achieve true prosperity. 

Accord­ing to herbal books, kale did not come to Ger­many until the 16th cen­tu­ry and was already one of the most pop­u­lar veg­eta­bles in many places at that time. Old­en­burg and Bre­men in par­tic­u­lar were con­sid­ered strong­holds of kale cul­ture. Cab­bage rides were and still are very pop­u­lar in Ger­many: peo­ple trav­el to the coun­try­side in hand­cart­loads to enjoy cab­bage in inns. Dur­ing the trip, peo­ple usu­al­ly play games and drink alco­hol. At the end of the Kohlfahrt, the cab­bage king and queen are elect­ed. These are then respon­si­ble for the orga­ni­za­tion of the cab­bage ride in the com­ing year. 

The ingre­di­ents of kale

Fresh kale con­sists of 85% of water and is there­fore very low in calo­ries. In addi­tion, kale con­tains a lot of vit­a­mins, min­er­als and fiber. These include, among others: 

  • Provi­t­a­min A 
  • Vit­a­min B2 
  • Vit­a­min C 
  • Vit­a­min E 
  • Vit­a­min K 
  • Folic acid 
  • Potas­si­um 
  • Cal­ci­um 
  • Mag­ne­sium 
  • Sodi­um 

Kale also has a very high iron and pro­tein con­tent and is there­fore ide­al as an alter­na­tive to meat. It pro­vides 2 g of iron and 4 g of pro­tein per 100 g — par­tic­u­lar­ly high val­ues for a veg­etable. Like savoy cab­bage, kale also con­tains numer­ous sec­ondary plant com­pounds, such as mus­tard oil glycosides.

The effect of kale on our body

Con­sid­er­ing the numer­ous nutri­ents and vital sub­stances, it is no longer a secret that kale has a pos­i­tive effect on our body. Fresh kale is good for diges­tion and can low­er our cho­les­terol lev­els. It also has an anti-inflam­ma­to­ry effect and can reduce the risk of can­cer. The folic acid it con­tains also improves blood clot­ting and pro­tects the car­dio­vas­cu­lar sys­tem, as well as the spinal cord and nerves. The vit­a­min E coun­ter­acts skin aging while vit­a­min C strength­ens the immune system.

Kale in the kitchen

Kale can be used in the kitchen in many ways. It can be served quite clas­si­cal­ly as a side dish with sausages and pota­toes, but also used to spice up var­i­ous pas­ta dish­es and veg­etable pans. Most peo­ple pre­fer to boil or cook the cab­bage. How­ev­er, there is noth­ing wrong with eat­ing the veg­etable raw at times: Kale makes an ide­al addi­tion to sal­ads along with a dash of olive oil, lemon and herbs. Kale also works well in smooth­ies. The so-called “green smooth­ies” are very pop­u­lar right now, because they are not only healthy, but also taste good. 

Before you pre­pare kale, you should wash and clean it thor­ough­ly. To do this, you can eas­i­ly remove the leaves from the stems and leaf veins. 

Buy­ing and stor­ing kale

As with any veg­etable pur­chase, kale should be pur­chased for qual­i­ty and fresh­ness. You can rec­og­nize fresh kale by its rich green or pur­ple col­or. It has no yel­low-brown edges and its leaves are crisp and curly. Kale with brown­ish spots and dry leaf tips is bet­ter left alone, because it has already left its best days behind. We also rec­om­mend that you choose organ­ic prod­ucts, because accord­ing to Green­peace, kale is often con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed with pes­ti­cide residues. 

After pur­chase, kale is best stored in the veg­etable com­part­ment of the refrig­er­a­tor. Here it can be stored for 4 to 5 days. But be care­ful, do not store the kale with fruit, because many fruits give off the gas eth­yl­ene, which can short­en the shelf life of kale. 

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