By now, you’ve probably heard of the latest superfood which is taking the world by storm: kale. But upon closer inspection of this leafy green, you’ll find there are different types of kale, each with a slightly different flavor and nutritional value. Kale is a type of cabbage, and there are three popular types of kale, which you can find at your local fruit and vegetable market, supermarket or farmer’s market.
While kale is usually available at any time of year, it is at it’s best in the northern hemisphere from September until the end of February. If you’re interested in growing your own kale, you’ll be pleased to know that while it can grow better in cooler climates, the various types of kale can be grown during any season and almost any climate.
First, you’ll also need to decide which varieties of kale you’re interested in growing, as they have different growth times. You can grow the different kale types either in a pot or a garden bed, depending on what space you have available. Make sure to provide shade if you are growing kale in summer. If it’s during the winter, try to position the seedlings in a space where they will receive some kind of sunlight. Growing kale requires a lot of water, and you’ll need to make sure to keep the soil moist.
No matter which of the types you choose to stock your fridge with, the leafy green is filled with antioxidants and is a great way to get some vitamins into your body. Kale is also versatile, which means you can use them in almost any dish! Buying kale at the supermarket also won’t break the bank.
To store kale, it is usually kept in the fridge wrapped in some plastic. It will keep for up to a few days. When it becomes wilted it no longer retains it’s strong taste.
Curly Kale (CC Image courtesy of Dave Fisher on Flickr)
Of all the varieties of kale, curly kale is the most popular, and the one you have probably seen in your local supermarket or greengrocer. While it has only gained popularity around the world in recent years, many people have been growing kale for a number of years. You can probably guess where it gets its name – the top of the green leaves tend to curl around and create a kind-of ripple effect.
Curly kale tends to be a vibrant green, sometimes with a deep purple running through the leaves. It can have a slightly bitter taste, depending on the age of the leaves. This type of kale is good in stir-fries, steamed with lentils or used in soups.
Red Russian Kale
Unless you know somebody who is growing kale, red Russian kale can be more difficult to get your hands on. It can give the appearance of rocket leaves, but with of course a red color. It has a sweeter taste than the other varieties of kale. It is good for making chips, and can be used as a substitute for spinach. This leaves can be used raw, which also helps them to maintain their nutritional value.
Red Russian Kale
(CC Image courtesy of birdman on Flickr)
Lascinato Kale (CC Image courtesy of photofarmer on Flickr)
This kale variety tends to be more wrinkled, and the leaves display a bluey green color. The leaves are long and the stalks can be thick and sturdy. Rather than being a bitter taste, it tends to taste more nutty.
Lascinato may also go by the name of black kale, Tuscan Kale or Dinosaur kale. This variety is good to steam or blanch in hot water or a salty broth.