How to Freeze Kale in 3 Easy Ways

Can you freeze kale? You bet. This simple, step-by-step guide will show you how easy it is to freeze and thaw for smoothies, stews, soups, and stir-fries.


Freeze-ability Index
Freezability Index of Four

How Long in Freezer
Blanched: 12 months
Pureed: 3 to 4 months
Raw (Not blanched): 1.5 months

Best Stored In…
Freezer Bag

How to Thaw
Typically not required

What to Expect
Limp leaves
Full flavor (blanched)
Bitter (raw or not blanched)


Can You Freeze Kale?

Yes, you can freeze fresh kale. Like other greens such as spinach and Swiss chard, there are 3 ways to freeze fresh kale:

Method 1: Freeze Blanched Kale
The best way to freeze kale is to blanch it before freezing it to kill the enzymes and bacteria that can ruin its color, flavor, and nutrients. These enzymes will continue to affect the kale, even while it’s frozen.

Method 2: Freeze Kale Without Blanching
If you freeze raw kale, you need to use it within a month or so. It won’t keep as long in the freezer and will lose its flavor because of its active enzymes.

Method 3: Freeze Blended Kale
Another way to freeze kale for smoothies is to blend it. You don’t need to blanch the kale for this method, either.

But, before you freeze kale, you have to clean it first (unless you bought it prewashed, in which case, you don’t need to clean it.)

Cleaning

How To Clean Kale Before Freezing It

The best way to clean kale is to use a simple, gentle, and natural solution made of water and vinegar.
Prep Time 10 mins
Freezing Time 40 mins
Total Time 50 mins

Equipment

  • White vinegar
  • A big bowl
  • A tablespoon
  • A colander/strainer
  • A cutting board
  • A chef's knife
  • 2 clean towels

Instructions
 

  • Separate the kale leaves.
  • Fill a big bowl with water and add 2 tablespoons of vinegar.
  • Put the kale in the bowl. Let it soak for 30 minutes.
  • Use your hands to remove the kale from the bowl and place it into a colander/strainer. Rinse it under running water.
  • Place the kale leaves flat on a towel and pat them dry with another clean cloth.
  • Trim off the ends of the kale stems (about 1/4 inch or 1cm).
  • Cut off the rest of the stem from each kale leaf. Chop the stems into 1 inch (2.5cm) pieces.
  • Cut the leaves away from the stem.

Notes

How to clean kale - trimming
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How To Blanch Kale For Freezing

The following how-to guide will show you how to blanch kale for freezing, which includes blanching the leaves and the stems separately.

As previously mentioned, this is truly the best way to prepare kale for freezing. I know it’s extra work, but raw kale only stores in the freezer for a little over 1 month when compared to blanched frozen kale, which lasts for up to a year in the freezer.

Pot

How To Freeze Kale – Blanching Method

Blanching kale kills the enzymes and bacteria that can ruin kale’s color, flavor, and nutrients—even while it's frozen.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 45 mins

Equipment

  • Salt
  • 2 dozen ice cubes
  • A slotted spoon
  • A big bowl
  • A large strainer/colander
  • A big pot
  • 2 clean towels
  • Tongs
  • Medium-sized freezer bags
  • A permanent marker
  • A straw (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Fill the pot salted water and bring it to a boil.
  • Put the strainer in the sink.
  • Fill the bowl with equal parts of cold water and ice cubes. Keep some ice cubes in the freezer for later.
  • Drop the kale leaves into the boiling water with the tongs. Don't overcrowd the pot. Boil the leaves for 2 minutes.
  • Move the kale leaves from the pot to the bowl of ice water with the slotted spoon. Rest the kale leaves in the ice water for 2 minutes.
  • Let the water come back to a boil. Drop the kale stems into the boiling water with the tongs. Don't overcrowd the pot. Boil the leaves for 3 minutes.
  • Use the slotted spoon to move the leaves from the ice water to the strainer. Shake off as much water as you can.
  • Add more ice cubes to the cold water. Move the kale stems from the pot to the bowl of ice water with the slotted spoon. Rest the kale stems in the ice water for 2 minutes.
  • Place a towel on a flat surface and lay the kale leaves on the towel. Pat the kale dry with another clean cloth.
  • Use the slotted spoon to transfer the stems from the ice water to the strainer. Shake off as much water as you can. Add the stems to the towel and pat them dry with a towel, too.
  • Let the kale air dry for at least 30 minutes to prevent freezer burn.
  • Pack the blanched leaves into a freezer bag.
  • Place the kale stems in a separate freezer bag.
  • Press the air out of the freezer bags and seal them.
  • Straw "vacuum seal" trick (optional): Slide a straw into the bag and suck out the air so the bag "shrinks" around the kale. Slide the bag down the straw as you inhale, and quickly seal the bag while you remove the straw.
  • Write today's date and the amount of kale on each bag. Put the bags in the freezer.
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Equipment Shopping List

I made this quick list for you in case you noticed that you were low on freezer bags or you need a set of solid, dependable tongs. PS—the Bellemain colander listed below is arguably the best out there.

I’ve either used these tools or added them to my own shopping list because they’re affordable and they get great reviews. Add them to your next Amazon order!


The Best Kitchen Tongs (Kitchenaid)

• 100+ Reviews
• 5 / 5 Stars
• Durable, heat-resistant
• Dishwasher-safe

The Ultimate Freezer Bags (Hefty)

• Over 2,000 Reviews
• 4.5 out of 5 Stars
• Tough and easy to fill

The Handiest Freezer Labels (Chinco)

• Hundreds of Reviews
• 4.5 out of 5 Stars
• Water-resistant, easy to remove, no residue

The World’s Best Colander (Bellemain)

• Over 3,500 Reviews
• 4.5 out of 5 Stars
• Amazon’s Choice


Do you have to blanch kale before freezing?

No, you don’t have to blanch kale before freezing it, although we strongly recommend that you do if you plan on storing your kale in the freezer for longer than 1 month.

If you’re dead-set against blanching—maybe you don’t want to dirty any pots or you’re short on time—you can also freeze fresh kale without blanching it. Here’s how to do it:

Plastic freezer bag

How To Freeze Kale Without Blanching

If you freeze uncooked kale leaves, you'll need to use them within a month or so. This kale won't keep as long in the freezer and will taste bitter when defrosted.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 45 mins

Equipment

  • Medium-sized freezer bags
  • Freezer labels
  • A permanent marker
  • A straw (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Pack the clean kale leaves into a freezer bag.
  • Put the kale stems into another freezer bag.
  • Press the air out of the freezer bags and seal them.
  • Straw "vacuum seal" trick (optional): If you have a straw, open a corner of the freezer bag and slide it in. Suck out the air through the straw until you see the bag "shrink" around the kale. Slowly pull out the straw while you continue to suck air, and quickly seal the rest of the bag.
  • Write today's date and the amount of kale on each bag.
  • Put the bags in the freezer.
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Can you freeze fresh kale for smoothies?

You can definitely freeze fresh kale for smoothies. The best way to do this is to blend it into a paste or liquid, and then freeze it into pucks or cubes (Method 3).

blender

How To Freeze Kale – Blended Method

Another way to freeze kale for smoothies is to blend it. You don't need to blanch the kale for this method, either.
Prep Time 15 mins
Freezing Time 3 hrs
Total Time 3 hrs 15 mins

Equipment

  • A countertop blender OR a hand blender
  • A spoon
  • 1 cup of water
  • A bowl (for the hand blender only)
  • A muffin tin
  • A large freezer bag
  • A permanent marker
  • Freezer labels
  • A straw (optional)
  • Space at the back of your freezer

Instructions
 

  • Put the kale into the countertop blender (or a bowl that's safe to use with a hand blender).
  • Add a little water to the blender/bowl. Pulse the blender a few times.
  • Keep adding more water and blending until the kale looks like a paste (think pesto).
  • Spoon the blended kale into the muffin tins.
  • Put the muffin tin in the freezer. Let it freeze for 3 hours.
  • Take the muffin tin out of the freezer and pop out the frozen blended kale "pucks."
  • Put the pucks into a freezer bag. Press the air out of the bag and seal it.
  • Straw "vacuum seal" trick (optional): Slide a straw into the bag and suck out the air so the bag "shrinks" around the kale pucks. Slide the bag down the straw as you inhale, and quickly seal the bag while you remove the straw.
  • Write today's date on a freezer label, stick it to the bag, and place the bag in the back of your freezer.
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The Best Portable Hand Blender (KitchenAid)

My husband gave me this cordless hand blender set from KitchenAid and I use it daily for smoothies, dips, baking, soups, lattes, and more.


Extra Tips and Tricks for Freezing Kale

Before you freeze the kale, if you plan on cooking with smaller amounts of it, chop up the leaves and use smaller bags.
If you cook with small amounts of kale, chop up the leaves and use smaller bags before freezing.
  • If you’re blanching a lot of kale in batches, allow the hot water to boil again and add more ice to the bowl of cold water.
  • If you cook with small amounts of kale, chop up the leaves and use smaller bags before freezing.
  • To freeze blended kale in specific portion sizes, use a measuring cup to pour the kale into the muffin tin.
  • An ice cube tray can replace the muffin tin for blended frozen kale (Method 3).
  • Kitchen vacuum sealers are excellent for sucking the air out of the freezer bags.

How Long Can You Keep Kale in the Freezer?

Blanched kale (Method 1) keeps in the freezer for up to 12 months.

You can keep blended kale (Method 3) in the freezer for up to 4 months.

Unblanched kale (Method 2) keeps in the freezer for up to 1.5 months.

How to Defrost Kale

Take the needed portions out of the freezer and add them to your recipe right away. It’s that simple.

Or, you can thaw kale in the fridge. Just take as many bags as you need out of the freezer, place them on a towel, and put them in the fridge to defrost overnight. You can also put frozen kale in a bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and pop it into the fridge to thaw.

What to Expect After Defrosting Kale

The flavor, color, and texture of kale will change after you defrost it. Here’s what to expect with defrosted blanched kale:

  • The leaves are limp, which is why you can’t use thawed kale in salads.
  • The leaves will stay bright green.
  • Defrosted blanched kale will retain its original flavor.

As for defrosted uncooked kale, here’s what to expect:

  • The leaves are limp, which is why thawed kale doesn’t work in salads.
  • The leaves will lose their vibrant color.
  • Defrosted raw kale tastes bitter.

The taste, color, and texture of blended kale will not change after defrosting.

Can You Re-Freeze Kale?

Yes, you can technically re-freeze frozen kale within 24 hours of defrosting it and only if it was defrosted in the fridge. Every time you re-freeze and defrost kale, it’ll become even mushier and lose more flavor, so it’s better to just remove what you need from the freezer.

You can also re-freeze kale if you used it in a recipe, like if you made a stew or stir-fry and you want to freeze it for later.


Ok, But What About…

Do you know a better way to freeze kale? Or are you looking for info on something else? Leave a comment below or email us—we’d love to hear from you!


Sources

2 Comments

  1. Knowing what blanching is now is very useful. One question. When you say 2 minutes to boil does that mean start timer once boiling starts with leaves in?

  2. Katie Rosenquist
    Katie Rosenquist

    Hey Antony, thanks for your question. Yes, you should start your timer the moment you put the kale leaves into boiling water. In other words, the kale needs to cook for 2 minutes.

    Let us know if you have any other questions!

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