How to Prepare Kale

How to Prepare Kale

I am lucky enough to say that my boys love to eat kale. There was actually a kale incident the other night whereby I only made one bunch and some grabbing occurred at the table as the boys “fought” over it. Ok, sorry to brag, however this is what sometimes happens in my house. Because kale is a hot commodity and because I don’t get to the grocery store on a daily basis (who does?), I try to keep kale on hand at all times to avoid said conflict.

Kale Prep Recipe

Here is how I store my kale so that we can have our McKale on a daily basis –that is when we’re not eating broccoli –I know, I know, it’s not nice to be boastful –I apologize!

Print Recipe
How to Prepare Kale
  • 1 bunch kale
  1. Fill a large deep bowl with water
  2. Take the rubber band or twist-tie off the bunch of kale
  3. Submerge the leaves of kale in water, swishing them around gently to remove any dirt
  4. Allow kale to soak for a few minutes and swish again
  5. Pour water out of the bowl and rinse kale under fresh water
  6. Spread some cloth towels out on a counter or your kitchen table
  7. Place the kale on the towels and allow to dry for about an hour while you do something else
  8. Come back to kitchen and chop kale into 1-2 inch wide strips on a cutting board with a sharp knife
  9. Discard the very bottom of the stems; do not remove the ribs, they are delicious and crunchy and besides we don't want to waste food
  10. Place chopped kale in a cloth or paper towel
  11. Fit into a Ziploc bag, squeeze the air out and zip closed
  12. Write the date on a small piece of tape (dog ear your tape for extra easy removal)
  13. Place kale in the fridge
  14. Keeps for up to 5 days

We all know that fresh vegetables are the best in terms of taste and nutrition.  And we know that cutting into anything (think of an apple that begins to brown) decreases the life force and freshness of that living thing.  However, these are the times (baseball season) that call for creativity and shortcuts.

Kale Prep Recipe

What I love about this little storage trick is that on a busy night I can come home, put a steamer basket and pot with an inch of water on the stove and have kale ready to serve in 5 minutes.  With 2 children on 3 different baseball teams this year, I’ll need as many shortcuts as I can get.

Serve your kale with gomasio or try this “fancy” dish.  Sometimes my boys like to add ume plum vinegar and toasted sesame oil to their steamed kale, though my favorite way to eat it is raw. For other great kale recipes (especially his Kale and Mushroom Stew), see Mark Bittman’s blog in the New York Times.

Kale Prep Recipe

By the way, my 10 year old son was the “hand model” for this shoot and looked forward to it for days –I love how confidently he holds that sharp knife and chops.  The boys have had their own knives (smaller, duller versions to begin with) since they were about 4 years old. And they learned young how to make kale an easy, ready to go dish for those busy nights!

Kale Prep


  1. Debra says

    I do the same thing. However, before I open the bag I use scissors to cut the bag in random spots to allow air to circulate so moisture doesnt accumulate inside. Love your recipes!

  2. Pennie says

    Thank you so much for sharing this information. You just helped me save 2 huge bundles of kale that I would like to use for kale chips later in the week. And I believe you also saved me some time because this is the best way to make sure it’s thoroughly dry before I use it.

  3. Aja Zola says

    Thank you for this very good tip on storing kale. My friend loves it and this really helps. Your son did an Excellent job demonstrating! :-)
    He can do ‘hand’ commercials!

  4. Beth Wilson says

    Thanks so much, for the great directions and wonderful, step by step, pictures!


    Beth Wison
    Raleigh, NC

  5. says

    Brilliant! Great shortcut. I’m happy to say that my kids eat kale, too. In fact, one accused the other of being a picky eater— while both of them were eating a dish that contained kale.

  6. LJo says

    I’ve searched the internet & can’t seem to find an answer for my question. How long can I store “cooked” kale in the refrigerator?

    I am not only pretty busy but lazy as well. I’ve prepared my kale & cook it on Sunday, store it in a bowl of the water it was cooked in, & cover the bowl. The next day, I put some of that kale on my plate, heat it in the microwave, then eat it. But I can’t always eat it day after day so I wanted to know how long cooked kale will last in the refrigerator.

    Thank you,

  7. Jess says

    Thank you so much for care & storage tips. Sometimes I feel like a real dummy, but these things are not obvious to all of us. :)

  8. Patti Patti says

    Thanks so much for this tutorial. I grow collards, chard and spinach and I tried your prep instructions for the collards and chard. Boy is it a HUGE lifesaver for me in terms of meal prep. Thank you Thank you. The prepared collard is still holding up on day 5.

  9. Eileen says

    I don’t think you’re being boastful, I think you are being rightfully proud of what you’ve been able to accomplish in helping your kids understand good nutrition and develop a love for food that will love them back! I personally adore seeing that other people’s kids enjoy “weird” veggies as much as mine do!

    We’ve only just started being Paleo (mostly) as of late May this year and our eating restrictions mimic your own, so I was *SO* happy to find your website. It has made my life infinitely easier not to have to re-invent the wheel! Thank you, truly, for sharing the love and research that you put into each of your recipes!

  10. Claudia says

    Very interesting site w/comments! I grow Kale in my garden in MN, my husband is not crazy about it. One plant is way to much for me and I love it, so this year I am chopping it and blanching it before freezing in quart freezer bags for my winter soups, hotdishes and dips. I am going to try the Kale chips today, we have grandsons visiting today and will be interesting to see if they like the chips.

  11. Mela says

    Thank you for this information. A friend told me about how kale is amazing so I bought some. Then I promptly realized I have no idea how to store it. Yay now I know how.
    Also I’m learning how to prepare it. I’ve made some kale chips so far- not too bad!!

  12. Amy Couch says

    Thank you so much Elana, that was so informative. I really love the photos, I am a visual person, so it helped out a lot. I just barely had Kale for the first time and loved it, so thought I would take a chance and learn how to make it for my husband and four kids. Thanks again, Amy

  13. says

    Until I found your web sight tonight I was stumped on just how to care and cook Kale. Early tonight I looked at the bunch of Kale and didn’t know what to keep and what to throw away.
    So I began my journey on the internet for just how to cook the green leafy vegetable.
    I gave up after 30 minutes and began on my own.
    Mistakes were made… I cut the stem out and just chopped the kale up. I did wash it.. but I am afraid I wasted so much of the green leaves.

    As the soup began to simmer I returned the internet and finally found your sight.
    Thank You so much for your intelligent and easy to understand recipes and directions I now know exactly what to do. Again Thank YOU.
    After reading your recipe I made some adjustments.. keeping my fingers crossed it will be edible.
    From now on I will go to your web site first.. I have already bookmarked and sent your link to my friends.
    bye for now

  14. says

    We love Kale “chips”. Prepare kale as you have in this post… then lay in a single layer on baking sheets, drizzle with oil of choice (we like olive) and season with kosher salt, pepper, garlic (and whatever else tickles your fancy like cayenne). Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10 minutes until crispy and yummy! They are addictive. I’m going to try this in a low heat dehydrator so they remain Raw… I’m sure it’ll be a similar result but will obviously take longer.

  15. Maritime lady says

    Grew Kale for the first time this year…and whooo…can’t believe the crop. Found this site while looking for recipes. Well, the massaging thing works very very well…makes a big difference as it softens the greens. Thought I might add…if you have a good food processor…well, it turns kale into confetti..and that can be used fresh (soups, salsa, salad) or can be frozen and a handful thrown into any soup later.

    I won’t grow so much next year but won’t be without it from now on.

    Bee from the Maritimes

  16. CoconutGal says

    Thanks Elana for the feedback.
    I figured it out. I was leaving them out to dry too long. 1 hour is just perfect- and if it’s really hot, maybe even a little less. This is the best method by far, the greens last a whole week. So glad you shared this. I am chucking the salad spinner!

  17. says

    Hi Elana!

    Thanks for the link for the yummy raw cranberries, I am going to splurge and buy some!
    I’m curious if you use this method for your other greens besides kale? I’ve tried this the past 2 weeks with my spinach from the farmers market but once it dries off it becomes extremely wilted– it almost looks cooked! Frustrating when my husband already thinks it’s weird that I dry greens on a towel on our bed (there is not enough kitchen counter space!) and then when they wilt like that it kind of defeats the purpose and makes me look even more crazy :-)
    Thought I’d see if you have any tricks up your sleeve for this. I’m thinking of just leaving them to soak in a bowl of water in the fridge and then spin them just prior to eating? I really want to get rid of the giant salad spinner though- it takes up so much space!

    Soak up some of that California Vita-D for me! xoxo

    • says

      Hi CoconutGal, great question, and yes, I do use the soaking, rinsing, allowing-to-dry, wrapping in paper towel, then bagging method, for all of my greens. It keeps them fresh for as long as a week and saves space in the fridge. xoxo

  18. says

    Thanks for the great comments on kale and the suggestions of other dark and healthy greens. We began growing kale in our garden last year and it was a pleasure to go out and pick it fresh for dinner. Thanks also for all of the kudos to my hand model, he will very much appreciate your “feedback” on his hand modeling :-)

  19. says

    Have you found the SALAD SPINNER? It has revolutionized the salad making in our household :) I suggest you check it out.. Mine is OXO, the original (I think) creator of the idea. It’s catching on everywhere, even restaurants! (of course, theirs is bigger)

    How do you prepare the kale?

  20. Magda says

    I love kale. Unfortunately, both DH and DS are not veggie-eaters. At all. (sigh).
    Currently I do a green smoothie with raw kale as my breakfast.
    Ruth, I always buy kale at Whole Foods. You can get green, red or dinosaur (lacinato). All are very good. They have the organic version from CA but I was able to find a local (GA) version last week as well.

  21. Dena says

    I don’t find kale easily (or affordably) in my neighbourhood, but find beet leaves easily and for next to nothing. We use this as our green leafy veg-of-choice. It’s delicious — vaguely beety but not overwhelmingly so. Great addition to soups (veg, chicken, etc) or sauted with a bit of garlic and oil.

  22. says

    I thought maybe it was all the kale that made your hands so soft and youthful?

    Fin loves kale too, but he has to fight me for it!

    x x x

  23. Christianne says

    HI Elana,
    What a great story and a fabulous hand model too! Ever since your other kale recipes I thought about finding it here (I never saw it in my veggie store) but that got a little bit on the background while life happened to me a little the last few weeks. But now I am all here again and will make it a quest. My mother has a patch of land as a fruit and veggie garden and I will ask her if she likes to sow kale… Why didn’t I think of that earlier! I allready look forward to reaping the kale with my mum and the 2 year old of my sister… Do you have kale in your garden?

    Have a lovely day and thanks again for the great story!
    x Christianne

  24. Eve says

    I tried the Hamantasch recipe—the older one, since the filling sounded really interesting. They were easy to make. And they are delicious! Thanks so much. (Oops, this isn’t a comment about kale, is it?)

  25. says

    You tell your hand model that he did a great job!

    Thanks for this post. In fact I just bought two bunches of kale in the grocery store less than an hour ago, since I haven’t tried it yet. I’ve already conquered mustard greens and collards! :)


  26. Ruth says

    OK, I’ve searched up and down, what kind of grocery store does one find Kale in? I can’t find it at Whole Foods or at the local grocery store that carries organic products, or any other for that matter. Can I substitute spinach for Kale in most recipes??

  27. says

    Kale is something that I’ve been able to grow quite successfully in our container garden. In fact, it’s almost impossible to kill! It survived through most of the winter here in New Mexico, with very little water. Thanks for the tips on storage!

  28. Eleanor Snyder says

    Dear Elana

    I thought we were the only ones who fought over vegies! My daughter and my husband used to vie for the last of the broccoli. Something like 40 years ago. You brought back some fun memories


    • Bea Johnson says

      I’m 82 yrs. old and this last year We are eating kale as cold slaw, I have had a hard time
      keeping it more than 3 days thank you for your help.

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