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
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.