Can I freeze chopped, raw kale? Should I?
July 31, 2020 3:28 PM   Subscribe

I am new to smoothies. I've been using a pre-mixed frozen smoothie mix (Wyman brand mix of kale, berries, and cherries), adding coconut milk or cow's milk, and I love it. But it is not reliably stocked at the store.

Also, I am afraid of kale in other settings. It's so bitter and chewy, whether cooked or raw. But in smoothies I'm delighted to learn that I don't taste it and it's great to supplement my normal woefully stingy intake of green leafies.

I have found bags of raw, chopped kale at the store. Can I freeze it to make my own smoothie mix with berries? Will freezing raw kale break it down or turn it mushy or black? If I can freeze it how should I do it? Can I just freeze the whole bag and break off clumps to throw in the blender with the rest of the ingredients? Or should I spread it out on cookie sheets, freeze it, and then portion it out with the berries, etc? Anything else I should be considering or avoiding?
posted by primate moon to Food & Drink (10 answers total)
It might be worth looking at the cost of already frozen, chopped kale. Is it less expensive than the bags of fresh kale you might buy and freeze? Vegetables can lose nutrients pretty quickly after harvest. If the kale in the freezer section was picked to freeze, it might have been frozen soon after picking and therefore might have maintained more nutrients than the bagged fresh kale (if that makes sense).

Otherwise, I think it's fine to freeze the bag (just make sure the bag doesn't have air holes -- if it does, maybe put a bigger ziplock around it). It'll come apart pretty easily.

I have used fresh and frozen spinach in smoothies and don't think it makes a big difference. With the frozen spinach, I try to offset the already-frozen part by using fresh berries if I have them.
posted by bluedaisy at 3:44 PM on July 31 [10 favorites]

Like you I am scared of kale in all settings, except I have figured out that I can tolerate it chopped up really small in soups. I bought exactly the kind of bag you are describing and threw it as-is into the freezer. It has a liiiiitle ice burn on it but not much, does not turn black or mushy, and works great to throw a small handful into soup.

Since you won't be cooking it there may be other applicable advice, which I will be watching for, because now I'm thinking I need to try it in smoothies as well.

On preview, I didn't know they sold already-frozen kale! I need to check this out.
posted by sillysally at 3:44 PM on July 31

I blanch and freeze mine. Boil water, dip the kale for up to a minute, throw it in a colander, dip more kale, etc. until you are out of kale. Rinse it under cold water and squeeze out all the extra water.

It turns out fine and blanching it can reduce the oxalate load (which can contribute to kidney stones if you're susceptible.) Frozen blanched kale also takes up less space in the freezer. You could probably freeze it in an ice cube tray for portion control. Nutritionally, the vegetables that you will eat are more valuable than the vegetables you don't use, so I'm in favor of freezing.

(You can also defrost your frozen kale, microwave it, and eat it like you might frozen spinach. It's a low-fear way to get into kale.)
posted by blnkfrnk at 3:52 PM on July 31

For a while, we would buy the "power greens" bag of pre-washed baby kale and spinach from Costco and then just chuck the whole thing into the freezer, then we'd grab and dump handfuls into the blender when making smoothies. So, yeah. That works great!
posted by sleeping bear at 3:59 PM on July 31 [2 favorites]

I throw those bags of kale in the freezer and use them for smoothies. The frozen kale can be slightly annoying. It breaks up more easily, and I always end up with bits and pieces on the counter. But it’s worth it to keep it from going bad, and the smoothies turn out fine.
posted by FencingGal at 4:12 PM on July 31

Whenever I have some leftover kale I chop it and throw it in the freezer in a Ziploc bag. I use it in smoothies and soups with no problem. The texture probably wouldn't be the same if eating it raw, but it doesn't sound like you want to do that.
posted by pierogi24 at 5:00 PM on July 31 [1 favorite]

Seconding cut out the middle step and just buy it frozen - it will have been frozen faster and sooner after harvest than you'll be able to do yourself. It will also be cheaper for generally higher quality.
posted by aspersioncast at 5:02 PM on July 31 [1 favorite]

I do this - I rough chop it and freeze it in smoothie-sized portions in ziplock bags, then I can just dump that in the blender without thinking. It doesn't turn black, it might get mushy but it'll be pulverized anyway.
posted by Sparky Buttons at 5:48 PM on July 31

I have now just stuck the whole bag in the freezer, and will break off chunks for my smoothie in the morning. Thanks!
posted by primate moon at 6:30 PM on July 31

I don't bother to blanch it 1st, just bag and freeze. Freezing breaks it down a bit, which makes it cook faster, might make smoothies smoother.
posted by theora55 at 3:42 PM on August 1

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