Do I really have to wash my kale?
September 25, 2010 6:26 PM   Subscribe

I make kale chips using organic kale (from local health food store) and my dehydrator often. I hate washing kale. It takes forever. Could I really do my body serious harm through my laziness? How likely is this?
posted by long haired child to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Is there one right way to wash kale? Different strokes, yeah, but I've always had fun using this method:

Cut up kale into a big mixing bowl, fill bowl with water, and swoosh around with my hands until I'm satisfied. Drain with a colander, and rinse under running water really quick.

Anyway, here's a list of the probabilities of "what's on your kale".
posted by carsonb at 6:35 PM on September 25, 2010

posted by Think_Long at 6:38 PM on September 25, 2010

It's much easier to wash leafy greens in some kind of basin than a colander or running water. Bigger the basin, easier the wash.
posted by rainy at 6:51 PM on September 25, 2010

Is the washing that annoys you, or the drying? Cause drying kale can take a long time, what with all those curls and crevices. I use a salad spinner.
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:06 PM on September 25, 2010

Kale can hold a lot of grit in it. I'm a lazy vegetable washer but I usually rinse my greens, and the amount of dirt in the water always tells me I've done the right thing.

One easy way to do it is to plug your sink, throw in the kale, fill the sink with cold water until there's enough to swoosh the greens around with your hands a bit, then drain it.

I have a salad spinner I use to dry the wet greens but if you don't, an old bath towel works great: spread the kale out on it and then roll it up gently.

It doesn't take forever. Just a couple of minutes. If you feel bad about wasting the water, do it in a dishpan or giant bowl, and then use the waste water to water your houseplants.
posted by padraigin at 7:09 PM on September 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've found organic kale to have bugs quite often. I'd wash it.
posted by zsazsa at 7:15 PM on September 25, 2010

i never wash kale, but mine is just regular non-organic stuff from the grocery store. it looks clean; i am still alive and i have never accidentally eaten a bug. i suppose if you really want to wash it you could put it into a salad spinner, or do what padraigin suggests and soak it in water in the sink.
posted by janepanic at 7:26 PM on September 25, 2010

The grit that's usually on kale would be really bad for your teeth.
posted by amtho at 7:31 PM on September 25, 2010

What padraigin says. A sink full of cold water, swishy-swishy-swishy, then spin dry. There's almost always a layer of silt in the bottom of the sink afterwards, and I'd just as soon not eat that, wouldn't you?

I'm curious how you're washing your kale that's so time-intensive. I'm also curious to try dehydrating some kale now.
posted by mumkin at 8:48 PM on September 25, 2010

One thing that might help (if you're currently using curly kale) is to use one of the flatter varieties of kale, like Russian kale. Even dinosaur kale, despite its crevices, is somewhat easier to work with than curly kale.
posted by thisjax at 9:11 PM on September 25, 2010

Agreed, just throw the kale in a deep water bath (basin or sink), swish a little, then drain on towels. You can do a motherload of kale at once and freeze some of it. Since you want it dry, do it earlier in the day (afternoon), swish, lay it out to dry, and by evening it should be fine. If you feel like it's a lot of work, you're putting too much work into it.
posted by Miko at 10:34 PM on September 25, 2010

2nd-ing salad spinner as the best labour saving device for washing leafy greens
posted by jannw at 12:30 AM on September 26, 2010

Something one should keep in mind is that USDA-certified organic produce is not necessarily free of pesticides, just persistent pesticides ("persistent pesticides" being pesticides that persist to be present even after rinsing); meaning, some pesticides that are easily rinsed away by water are permitted by the USDA under the current organic rule. So if one is buying organic goods to avoid ingesting chemicals in the first place, one should certainly rinse the produce.
posted by kitarra at 8:12 AM on September 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think your question wasn't "should I wash my kale," but "am I going to seriously harm myself if I don't wash my kale?"

Serious bodily harm, probably not. Organic vegetables might still have organic fertilizers on them or (possibly less likely) organic pesticides. These are things that you would not willingly consume, so it's best to wash them off of your food before you consume IT. Will they kill you? No. But neither will the residue on conventional produce. Won't kill you at such low levels, but do you want it in your system? Everyone needs to be their own judge on that one.

Your more serious worry, and what really MAY cause serious bodily harm, is e. coli. Vegetables -- even organic vegetables -- can be contaminated by the water used to irrigate the crops. The farmer may not be spraying the plants with anything other than water, but you don't know that that water doesn't contain fecal matter that can then lead to an e coli breakout. And e coli can kill you. Serious bodily harm, that.

So yes, it's a pain, but wash that kale. As others have suggested, use a big basin (or stop up your sink). Better to be safe than to suffer bloody diarrhea.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:07 PM on September 27, 2010

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