Kale. The ubiquitous super green of the 21st century. Kale has been trending so hard these past few years it's almost passé. Almost. Thankfully, being healthy and feeling capable is not a flash in the pan so kale ain't taking a hike anytime soon. Unless you eat it and then go for a hike. Kale likes that.
The darling of the chlorophyll packed leafy veggies, kale is high in Vitamin K, A, C, manganese, antioxidant nutrients and detoxifying agents essential for achieving and maintaining a homeostasis of harmonious health. In addition to kale’s many nutritional merits, it is a cinch to grow. But as we know, not all kale is created equal. When your recipe calls for "kale" and you go to the grocery store or go to buy seeds to grow some of your own (yes!) you may end up being like, "WTF kind of kale am I supposed to use? Last time I made kale lasagna it was a watery suck bag of slop." The thing is, some kale is tougher than others and some just shouldn't be eaten at all. So to help out, here are 5 general types of kale to narrow down your search for the perfect green leaf.
1. Curly Kale
Curly kale is possibly the most common kale found in food markets and grocery stores these days. Curly kale is rigid, broad leafed, fringed and green all over. There are many different types of curly kale under pretty cultivar names, but they all fall under the umbrella of the curly. This is the kind of kale you want to make kale chips and mouth watering coconut kale out of due to its firm texture. Curly kale can be harvested soon as the leaves are large enough and have a slightly rubbery consistency. This kale will grow a thick stalk as the plant gets older, will over winter well and will continue to give its bounty for at least a couple of years. Once the plant is producing slowly, replant in the spring.
2. Red Russian Kale
Red Russian is the tenderfoot of the kale world. The flat, fringed leaves are similar to oak leaves but with a vibrant purplish-red stem and veins. This is the kale you want to use in salads and raw preparations. It is much softer than other types of kale and will often fall short in cooked dishes. Harvest leaves when they are small for more sweet and tender “baby kale” leaves. Harvest later for more oomph in a green juice or smoothie or massage in oil for salads. It’s a good idea to remove stems as they can become quite fibrous and woody and gnashing through them may leave you looking like Bessie the Cow chewing cud in the pasture. Not a super hot look in front of your family, friends or date. Unless you date cows. It's your life.
3. Lacinato Kale
Lacinato, also knows as ‘dinosaur kale’ has long, narrow deep bluey-green leaves with a bumpy or wrinkled texture. A great, firm kale, lacinato is a favourite amongst chefs worldwide. It has a more nutty and earthy flavour compared to other types of kale and retains it’s composure when massaged for raw or cooked dishes. Similar to curly kale, lacinato is winter hardy and will continue to pump out new leaves and thicken its stalk as it grows. Eventually you’ll have something that resembles a miniature prehistoric palm tree which is pretty awesome. When thats not working for you anymore, compost your dino-palms and replant in the spring and late summer.
4. Redbor Kale
Similar to curly kale, redbor is a winter hardy, shockingly beautiful edible addition to the garden. It has a similar growth habit and look to curly kale and can be prepared in much the same way, BUT, it can also double as a stunning ornamental whether you eat it or not. Add it to flower bouquets or use for a super hot instagram photo with burgundy themes.
5. Peacock/Ornamental Kale
This is the stuff that looks like a beautiful cabbage explosion of pink, green and purply awesomeness. Although it is technically edible, peacock kale is better suited to prettying up the garden or putting in pots on the windowsill or balcony. The leaves are tough as nails and the flavour is quite bitter compared to its other kale brothers and sisters. It may be more edible at a younger stage (as most vegetables and leafy greens are) but it’s not the best or tastiest. Peacock kale really shines when it gets to sit pretty and feed your eye balls rather than try and fail at impressing your taste buds.
Eating healthy shouldn't be shitty. It can actually be quite tasty and enjoyable but if you select the wrong type of greens for the right recipe, you may just end up renouncing salads for life and eating chef boyardee for dinner. Don't let it happen to you!
***If you need some guidance, check this chick's website out. She's a mega babe and has recipes that actually taste so fucking good, you'll want to plant more chard this year. For real. I like this one, among many others. We likes easy.