How to pick kale

Although kale has gotten downright trendy of late, I suspect many of you may experience a mild sense of dread upon spying yet another bunch of this gorgeous green (or purple) stuff in your CSA box at this point in the summer. And those of you who grow your own may feel just a tad overwhelmed by the sheer volume of this superfood your garden is churning out on a seemingly daily basis. I know I do…

In order to prevent a case of “too much of a good thing”, I find it helps tremendously to have a large pool of inspiring recipes to draw from. And the good news is that there is no shortage of delicious ways to prepare kale – this god-sent green that is so packed with good things and flavor. Here are some of my favorite ways to enjoy this superfood.
Kale Chips, Eight Ways
Whenever I ask people what their favorite kale recipes are, kale chips top the list! Roasting brings out the sweetness and deepens the flavors and also turns the greens into a deliciously crispy treat that is tossed with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. I’ve made them many, many ways including sea salt and sesame, maple balsamic, lime and chili, and garlic and oregano – all of them good.

Nutty Forbidden Rice, Roasted Beet & Kale Salad
This is a gem of a salad. Forbidden rice is a special dark purple – almost black variety that was apparently so nutritious and tasty that it was reserved for royalty only in the not-so-distant past. Loaded with antioxidants it has a lovely, nutty flavor and a toothsome, slightly chewy texture. Sweet roasted beets and fresh, mineral-tasting kale are tossed in a simple dressing of garlic, apple cider vinegar, olive oil and whole grain mustard and topped with some crunchy toasted pecans.

Brussels Sprouts & Kale Salad With Toasted Almonds & Parmesan
This is one of my very favorite salads — a highly addictive mix of flavors that can be enjoyed all year long. It looks like a whole lotta roughage and tastes like a salty, garlicky, cheesy, crunchy, savory slice of heaven. I learned about it from our friend, Polly who brought it to a potluck a few years back.

Citrus-Massaged Kale Salad with Parmesan, Toasted Nuts & Dried Cherries
This is my go-to kale salad because it is both blissfully tasty and also very quick to throw together. Massaging the chopped kale leaves with lemon juice makes them wonderfully tender. Then I toss with a dash of maple syrup and some sea salt before topping with the salty grated cheese, toasted nuts )almonds, pecans or pine nuts are my favorite choices) and sweet, chewy dried cherries.

Lemony Kale Salad with Coconut Avocado Dressing
This salad hits all the right notes – tart lemon, creamy avocado, spicy garlic, sweet coconut and fresh kale. It also happens to be really good for you. Top with toasted pepitas for a little crunch.

The World’s Best Rice Bowl
If I happen to have any of the warm kale in the recipe below left over, I make this wonderful rice bowl. Pair some nutty brown rice with the warm tahini-ginger kale, some pickled daikon, slices of ripe avocado and a hard boiled egg. The flavors and textures are so good together and it is one of the most satisfying meals I’ve ever eaten.

Warm Kale Salad with Tahini Ginger Dressing & Avocado
Blanching the kale leaves before you toss them in the tahini ginger dressing leaves them tender and delightfully warm. Topped with slices of perfectly ripe, creamy avocado and a sprinkling of sesame seeds and you’re in business!

Winter Greens, White Bean & Sausage Soup
Kale and cannellini beens are a match made in heaven. A rich, tomato-ey, Parmesan-scented, herb-flecked broth makes for a hearty, savory soup. I use chard and kale interchangeably in this recipe and am always very happy when I have some Parmesan rinds on hand to throw in while it’s cooking – it takes the flavor up yet another notch. Eats like a meal.
Grilled Coconut Kale
Marinating kale in coconut milk spiked with lime juice and spices and then grilling it yields a pile of slightly charred greens with a smoky, rich, slightly sweet flavor. I also recommend that you save the marinade for something else as it’s mighty tasty.
Wilted Russian Kale Salad With Balsamic Vinegar & Orange Zest
This is a delicious mix of mellow and sweet flavors – caramelized onions and garlic, balsamic vinegar and orange zest. Mighty purty, too.
Curried Kale Cakes
These are highly addictive. Each bite is savory, moist and spiced with garam masala. Topped with a little dilled yogurt, they make a great lunch. I like to scoop them out onto a paper grocery bag – much more absorbent and less wasteful than using paper towels.
Zingy Sautéed Kale with Bacon & Onion
Mellow, sweet onions, salty bacon and a splash of vinegar make the perfect companions for kale in this quick sauté.
Dinosaur Kale With Cherry Tomatoes & Garlic
I love the simplicity and the savory and sweet mix of this recipe – it’s best made with really sweet cherry tomatoes. Very Christmasy-looking! Please forgive the crummy photo – this was one of the first recipes I ever posted – before I’d learned anything about photographing food 🙂
Sweet Potatoes with Winter Greens
Inspired by a recipe from the Obama’s White House chef – kale (or any other winter green) is a great pairing for sweet potatoes and a mix of garlic, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, cinnamon and maple syrup turn it into a true treat. The photo really does not do it justice, trust me…
Stir-Fried Winter Greens With Garlic Shrimp & Rice
Another dish that can be enjoyed all year long. You certainly don’t need to use shrimp if you’d prefer just the stir-fry or you could substitute meat or tofu, too.
That’s all for now. But before you get cooking, I’d like to introduce you to a tool I recently discovered – the kale stripper! This little gadget is a great way to quickly separate kale and chard greens from their tough center ribs.
You might also like:

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  • 5 Must-Have Kitchen Tools

Want even more recipes, photos, giveaways, and food-related inspiration? “Like” the Garden of Eating on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter or Pinterest.


Here’s everything you need to know to freeze kale into convenient little pucks. These pucks are ideal for tossing into smoothies, soups or stews.

I’m going to start in the garden, but listen, you don’t need to get your kale from the garden to do this. You can freeze kale in small amounts, so if you happen to buy a big bundle at the store and can’t use it all, don’t let it go to waste, just freeze it. Then, the next time you make spaghetti sauce, pizza, soup, stew, casserole or whatever, just toss in a cube. It adds great nutrients and prevents food waste – that’s what I call win-win!

How to Pick Kale

Those of you who have grown kale before know that it just keeps on going and going! Yup, it’s one of those crops that keeps producing the entire garden season – pick leaves today and three days from now you can pick again. As long as you pick it properly, that is.

Pick the most desirable leaves. I leave the large mature ones towards the bottom of the plants and the small ones right in the center. Leaving the center ones helps maintain plant health and ensures it keeps growing. Notice the before and after photos.

How to Freeze Kale

You will find websites that say you don’t have to blanch kale. They say all you have to do is pop it in a bag and freeze. Be cautious when following that advice, especially if you plan to store your kale in the freezer for more than three months. To properly preserve flavor, texture and color you should blanch your kale just like any other veggie.

Freeze kale into convenient ice pucks for easy use in smoothies, soups, stews and sauces. Blanching in boiling water is the best way to preserve flavor and color. Prep Time15 mins Cook Time3 mins


  • kale
  • ice cubes


  • Wash kale.
  • Remove large stem and ribs.
  • Cut into bite sized pieces.
  • Bring a large pot of water to boil.
  • Add kale to boiling water. Bring water back to full, rolling boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Start timer only when water has returned to a full boil.
  • Use slotted spoon to remove kale from water and place immediately into ice cold water bath. Add ice cubes to cold water bath to quickly cool kale.
  • Drain and pat kale pieces dry.
  • Press kale into ice cube tray.
  • Freeze overnight or a minimum of 3 hours.
  • Remove frozen kale cubes from tray and seal in a plastic bag or freezer container.
  • Use straw to remove as much air as possible from bag.
  • Seal, label and freeze for 6 months. (Frozen kale cubes are safe to freeze much longer, but quality will deteriorate after 6 months.)

Tried this recipe?Share a photo and tag #getgettys on Instagram!


5 cups raw torn kale fills one ice cube tray
Blanching time comes from the National Center of Home Food Preservation. Processing time comes from the National Centre for Home Preservation. The same process and time can be used for spinach, swiss chard and beet tops. Collard greens can also be done the same way, but they should be blanched for 3 minutes.

Here are some photos of the process.

Pick the most desirable leaves.

Wash kale.

Chop kale into desired size.

Place in boiling water. Return water to full boil then boil for 2 minutes.

Cool kale in ice water bath, drain and pat dry.

Pack blanched kale tightly into ice cube tray.

Once frozen solid, remove from ice cube try into freezer bag.

Use straw to remove as much air from freezer bag as possible.

And that’s it. You now have convenient kale pucks to ensure you get your healthy dose of dark green veggies every day!

How will you use your cubes? Let me know. And please, take a photo, post it on Instagram and tag #getgettys so I can see it and like it!

Sign up to get articles by Getty delivered to your inbox. You’ll get recipes, practical tips and great food information like this. Getty is a Professional Home Economist, speaker and writer putting good food on tables and agendas. She is the author of Manitoba’s best-selling Prairie Fruit Cookbook, Founder of Fruit Share, a mom and veggie gardener.

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Known as a superfood and a nutritional powerhouse, kale is often referred to as the queen of greens.

It deserves the accolades, as kale contains anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-cancer and detox-supporting nutrients.

These include sulforaphane, which may help prevent cancer, vitamins A, C and K, folic acid, iron, potassium and calcium. Kale is also high in fibre.

While kale belongs to the Brassicaceae family, which includes broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and Asian greens, kale doesn’t form a head like cabbage.

It is a pick-and-come-again vegetable, and regular picking ensures a long cropping period. You’ll be harvesting leaves about 6-8 weeks after sowing seeds.

There are several different varieties, including cavolo nero, also called Tuscan black kale and Italian black cabbage.

Other types of kale have serrated leaves, curly leaves or even purple leaves.

Among its other qualities, kale is said to act as an anti-inflammatory because it contains omega-3 fatty acids. Image: Alamy

Did you know?

Originally from the Mediterranean, where it was also known as borecole, kale is thought to have been one of the first types of brassicas to be cultivated, and was a staple food during the Middle Ages.

Sow seeds

MAKE sure the garden bed is damp and free from weeds, lumps and stones. Create a depression with a trowel at the correct depth for sowing the seeds. This is indicated on the packet.

SPRINKLE the seeds lightly into the depression and cover with soil, before lightly firming down the
soil after sowing.

KEEP the soil damp until the seeds have germinated after about 7-10 days. Thin out the seedlings when they’re about 75mm tall to 300-450mm apart.

Make sure the garden bed is damp and free from weeds, lumps and stones

Kale grows well throughout the winter months and cool weather actually sweetens the leaves. Image: Thinkstock

Test the soil

You’ll need a slightly alkaline soil with a pH above 6.5 for growing kale. Add soluble lime or dolomite before planting, if necessary.

In the kitchen

USE kale in vegetarian lasagne instead of silverbeet or spinach.

BRAISE it with garlic and olive oil and toss it through pasta. Serve with parmesan cheese.

ADD to soups, casseroles and stews.

BOIL or steam kale and squeeze lemon juice over the top for a side dish.

MAKE a risotto using kale, pine nuts and cheese.

ADD the leaves to smoothies for a powerhouse drink.

SAUTE kale and add to a frittata with capsicum, tomatoes and feta.

Make kale chips

Remove the thick stems, tear leaves into medium-sized pieces, coat with olive oil and put them on baking paper. Cook in a medium oven for about 15-20 minutes or until they turn dry and crispy.

Add salt to the cooked chips, if you like. Children love them.

Add salt to the cooked chips for added flavour. Image: Alamy

How to grow kale

The best time to plant kale seedlings is during winter, or you can sow seeds from late summer until early winter.

Kale will grow well in a sunny position in garden beds or pots.

The soil needs to be well-drained and you should dig in some manure or compost before planting.

Water the plants regularly and mulch with lucerne hay or pea straw. Feed monthly with a soluble plant food.

Picking Kale – How To Harvest Kale

Kale is basically a cabbage type vegetable that doesn’t form a head. Kale is tasty when cooked or kept small to use in salads. Learn how to harvest kale at the right time to encourage the most flavorful leaves.

Kale, like many cabbage crops, is a cool season vegetable. As such, it is beneficial for the flavor to have a frost before harvesting kale. Planting at the right time will allow the plant to be of optimum picking size after frost. Baby kale leaves may be ready for harvest in as little as 25 days after planting but larger leaves will take longer. When to pick kale will depend on the use planned for the leafy green.

How to Harvest Kale

Learning how to pick kale ensures the kale is fresh; you can use the baby kale harvest for leaves in a few salads. Harvesting kale for use in soups, stews and cooked, mixed greens allows use of larger leaves. Harvesting kale may include taking a few tender inner leaves or removing the entire bunch by cutting at the roots. To use kale as a garnish, take either a large or small part of the kale harvest.

Plan ahead before planting so you won’t have more than you can use, or give some away after the kale harvest. You may want to use succession planting when putting kale into your garden so that your kale isn’t ready for harvest all at the same time.

When to pick kale will depend on when it is planted. In areas with mild winters, kale may be grown the entire season. In areas with freezing winter temperatures, start kale in late summer or late winter for a cool season frost before harvesting kale.

Now that you’ve learned how to pick kale and a few facts about harvesting kale, you are ready to start your own nutritious crop. Kale has few calories, more vitamin C than orange juice and is an excellent source of calcium.

Sow: April to June
Plant: June to August
Harvest: September to May

This tough old brassica can withstand extreme temperatures and often succeeds where other cabbage-patch kids fail.

Recommended varieties: “Winterbor and Redbor are reliable curly kale growers (both F1 hybrids). The Redbor is a particularly attractive, rich-red variety,” says Joy Larkcom.

Sowing and planting: Sow in modules from mid- to late spring. Seedlings will appear after 7-12 days. Once established (6-8 weeks after sowing) transplant to their final position, spacing them in rows 45cm apart. Water plants thoroughly before moving and “puddle-in” to their final position.

Cultivation: Look after young plants by watering during dry patches and keep weeded. Tread around the base of the stem every so often to prevent the larger varieties swaying in the breeze. Remove yellowing leaves, “earth up” the stems and stake tall varieties if exposed (kale can handle exposed, slightly shady plots).

Pests and diseases: Yet another reason to grow kale – it’s rarely bothered by the dreaded banes of the brassica family.

Harvesting: Kale is a frost-hardy cut-and-come-again plant. Young leaves can be picked from autumn to mid-spring. Remove leaves with a sharp knife as required (mature or yellowing leaves won’t have the same bite). Once the crown has been stripped, the plant will grow side shoots which you can harvest between February and May. When flower buds form and stems turn coarse, stop picking.

Storage: Spring leaves can be frozen, but cut-and-come-again cropping will provide you with fresher leaves.

Extending the season: Dwarf varieties can be harvested 14 weeks after sowing and allow you to cram more crop into your patch. Sow in situ in early summer in rows 18cm apart. Harvest after they reach 15cm. Dwarf varieties also make great cut-and-come-again crops. Sow in situ and harvest when the plant is about 5cm high.

Growing without a veg plot: Dwarf varieties are perfect – try Showbor and Dwarf Green Curled.

Kale: Harvesting, Cooking and Freezing

Posted on Aug 17, 2017 in Fearless Food | 1 comment

Kale is one of the most versatile greens to grow, as it can be used in anything from stews to salads, in chips, and even smoothies! Kale is a member of the brassica family, and can have different flavors depending on what time of year it is harvested. The leaves are mild in spring and early summer, then begin to develop a more bitter flavor as the weather warms up. Kale is at its sweetest and most delicious in the spring just after a frost. There are many different varieties of Kale such as Dinosaur, Tuscan, Lacinato which have a distinct oblong shape, Curly Kale which has large broad leaves and curled edges, or Red Russian which are sage colored with reddish purple stems.

One of Peterson Garden Project’s Grow 2 Give beds, planted with Lacinato, Red Russian, and Blue Curled Scotch Kale.

How do you know when it is ready to harvest?
Kale can be harvested young if you prefer tender leaves to use in salads, or you can wait until the leaves reach their full size, which can range depending on variety. To harvest small leaves, just use scissors to snip the lower leaves about ¼ inch from the stem. You can harvest larger leaves by pulling down on the leaf, right next to the main stem to snap off. Check out how to harvest large kale leaves.

The plant will keep producing leaves, and you can harvest all season long. You can also plant new rows of seeds in succession a few weeks apart for a longer and more abundant harvest.

How do you store it?
Wash and wrap in a damp paper towel, stored in a loose plastic bag in the refrigerator. Kale will keep about 1 week stored this way. Kale also freezes very well! Blanch the cut leaves in boiling water for 20-30 seconds, then immediately plunge into ice water. Drain with a colander or salad spinner, then dry again with a lint-free towel or paper towel. Drying the leaves thoroughly will help prevent ice crystals from forming. Pack into a freezer storage bag, and press down to remove the air. Seal, label, freeze and enjoy within 8-10 months. To use, simply steam gently, toss into hot soups or stews, or thaw in the refrigerator.

Submerged in boiling water for 20-30 seconds. Leave enough space so the leaves can move around freely.

Drain with a colander, then spin dry or towel dry to remove moisture.

Label and date.

How do you cook it?
Remove any yellowed leaves, as well as any tough stems. Smaller stems from young leaves can be left in tact, as they are softer and not as fibrous. To remove the stems, fold the leaf in half and run a knife down the stem side to remove. Young tender leaves can be thrown into salads raw, or try tossing some raw kale into your next smoothie to add a healthy antioxidant boost. If you’re making a kale salad, one trick to make it easier to chew is to “massage” it so the fibers in the leaves break down a bit and become more pliable and, well, relaxed.

Unlike other greens, kale retains much of its volume when cooked- 1 pound of raw kale yields roughly 2 cups cooked. Kale can be steamed, sautéed, baked, or added to soups (especially paired with white beans, lentils, or potatoes). Try simply sautéing it in a little bit of olive oil with some garlic and a splash of lemon juice, add a little salt and pepper to taste, and toss into your favorite pasta with some parmesan cheese on top. You can also make kale chips by tossing the leaves with oil and salt, and drying them out in the oven at its lowest setting (no higher than 250 degrees) until crispy. The possibilities with kale are endless!


Kale is a hearty, healthful vegetable that can be incorporated in many dishes. It is so popular, it even has its own national day – October 2, 2013 (National Kale Day)! Kale is a great source of beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin K, Calcium, lutein and zeaxanthin. Raw kale makes a nourishing, colorful and intensely flavored salad ingredient. It is also a low calorie vegetable, providing only 33 calories in one cup.

Courtesy of Ariana Ortiz, Swedish Covenant Hospital Dietitian.


Baked Kale Chips Recipe: (source:


1 bunch kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon seasoned salt


1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a non insulated cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2. With a knife or kitchen shears carefully remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite size pieces. Wash and thoroughly dry kale with a salad spinner. Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning salt.

3. Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt, 10 to 15 minutes.


Kale’s bold flavor gets tempered, in a good way, when it teams up with eggs and cheese. This will make a nice supper with a green salad or vegetable soup. You can use any variety of kale in this recipe.

Kale and onion quiche
Makes: 6 servings
1 prepared 9-inch pie crust
3 eggs
¾ cup half-and-half
¾ cup whole milk
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
Freshly ground black pepper
1 TB vegetable oil
1 TB butter
5 green onions, minced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups chopped kale leaves
1/3 cup grated cheddar cheese

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Tear off a piece of foil large enough to fit inside the pie crust; press into the crust.
Fill pan with dried beans; bake 12 minutes. Remove crust from oven, discarding foil and beans; set aside.
Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, half-and-half, milk, salt, red pepper flakes and black pepper to taste in a medium bowl; set aside.
Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; cook the onions and garlic until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the kale; cook, stirring, just until wilted, about 5 minutes.
Spoon the vegetables into the crust; sprinkle with cheese.
Pour the egg mixture over. Bake until set, about 35 minutes.

Recipe courtesy of the Chicago Tribune

Kale is ready for harvest as soon as the leaves are large enough to eat. Kale matures 55 to 75 days from seed sowing. It is best grown to mature in spring or fall before temperatures climb into the 70°sF . In mild-winter regions, kale will produce new leaves nearly all winter.

When to Harvest Kale

  • Harvest kale as soon as the leaves are large enough to eat. Pick large, outside kale leaves first; leave the center ones to grow on.
  • Regular harvest and even watering will keep kale plants producing new tender leaves for several months—as long as the weather stays cool.
  • Kale leaves will be sweeter if harvested after frost; cool temperatures cause carbohydrates in the leaves to turn to sugar.
  • Kale can survive but not thrive where winters are cold; plants can withstand temperatures as low as 14°F (-10°C).
  • In hard freeze regions, grow kale under row covers, plastic tunnels, or in cold frames. When temperatures in the teens are predicted, cover plants to keep the leaves from freezing. Still, frozen leaves can be cooked.
  • Kale planted in the spring and grown into the summer will be bitter if hit by summer heat. When summer comes keep roots cool by mulching around plants and make sure plants are well watered; these efforts will improve flavor.

Cut kale leaves as needed (called cut-and-come-again) new leaves will grow from the center of the plant.

  • Cut kale leaves one-by-one as needed with garden scissors or knife or cut away the whole head. If you cut kale leaves as needed (called cut-and-come-again) new leaves will grow from the center of the plant.
  • After harvesting kale, wash the leaves thoroughly to remove any soil that may be clinging to the leaves.

How to Store Kale

  • Kale will store for two to three weeks at 32° to 34°F (0°-4°C) and 90 to 95 percent humidity (moist) with some air circulation.
  • Wrap leaves in a moist cloth or paper towel and store them in a perforated plastic bag in the vegetable crisper of the refrigerator; this will keep leaves from drying.
  • If you cook the whole leaf, the stems will become tender.

More tips: How to Grow Kale.

Kale is all the rage these days. It’s been called a superfood and it seems to be getting more popular by the minute. It’s so popular, I even made a YouTube video showing you how I harvest kale in my garden (see below). Whether the Kale Popularity Trend (KPT for short, at least that’s what I’m calling it) keeps rising or not, it’s definitely making at least a weekly appearance in my diet these days. Why so much kale, you ask? Because I’m growing three kale plants in my garden. And let me tell you, three kale plants for a two-person household is A LOT of kale. Note to self: don’t plant so much kale next time. Lucky for me, I love the stuff. Kale is delicious in salads, in a smoothie, braised or sautéed and even as crunchy kale chips.

Kale plants are a cool-season crop that thrive in the spring and fall seasons. I transplanted my three kale plants in the early Spring and they are growing strong into the beginning of Summer. Kale is simple to grow and maintain. I would even go as far to say that it has been one of the easiest vegetables I’ve ever grown. I haven’t had to deal with any kale pest issues (knock on wood) and the plants have produced oodles of large, green leaves. Best of all, harvesting kale is a piece of cake.

Before you begin, you’ll need to make sure that your kale plant is ready to harvest. You’ll know when it’s ready when it’s about 12 inches tall and the leaves are the size of your hand or bigger. Leaves that are the size of your palm are younger and more tender whereas the bigger leaves will be older and a bit tougher. Rest assured, both are delicious. It’s also important that you harvest kale from the bottom up. Pruning the top leaves can accidentally stunt the growth of your kale plant. You certainly don’t want that to happen. Feel free to cut off any yellowing leaves as well to help your plant really focus it’s energy on growing the other healthy leaves.

Tools that you will need include some pruning shears or a pruning knife and a large bowl or bucket.

Step 1: Grasp a kale leaf and cut it at the base of the stem with a clean cut using your pruning shears.

Step 2: Put cut leaves in bucket.

Step 3: Wash freshly cut leaves.

Step 4: Eat kale.

Guess what, folks? That’s IT! That’s literally all you have to do. Done.

Sounds simple enough, right? But, if you’re like me, you’ll still have plenty of questions after reading those instructions. But where exactly do you cut it? How do you know which leaves to cut when they all look good? We’re the kind of people that need to watch someone actually harvest a vegetable in order to really feel comfortable doing it. Not to worry, I’ve got you covered. Check out the YouTube video I made showing you exactly how I harvest my kale.

Have any questions or comments about kale, my garden or the books that are behind me at the beginning of my YouTube video (they’re mostly my boyfriend’s)? Let me know in the comments below!

This page contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase on Amazon after clicking one of my links, I may receive a small commission. The price of the item stays the same and any money I make goes to supporting this blog. I only endorse products and services that I fully believe in.

One of my favorite things about kale is its easy and prolonged harvest. It’s the ultimate cut-and-come-again option for your veggie garden.

Along with being quick and easy to pick, this leafy green is packed with antioxidants and vitamins A, C, and K. After plants mature, it takes just a few minutes to gather enough greens for a tasty and nutritious meal.

What You’ll Learn

  • When to Pick Kale
  • How to Harvest Mature Kale
  • How to Harvest Baby Kale
  • Grab Some Greenery

Kale is an easy vegetable to grow and harvest. However, you still have to know the right time and method to harvest.

The timing and methods you use depend on if you are growing plants for baby greens or mature leaves. Continue reading to learn how to get the most from this nutritious green.

When to Pick Kale

Kale is ready to pick approximately 60 days after seeds have been planted. At this point, healthy plants will have upwards of ten leaves, with small ones in the center and larger ones on the outside.

If you’re looking to grow baby kale, plants will be ready to pick and enjoy in 25 to 30 days after they are sown.

The harvest period usually occurs once in late spring or early summer, and again in autumn.

It is worth noting there isn’t a perfect time to pick this green. If you like smaller leaves, collect them earlier when they are younger. And if you prefer larger kale, wait until it sizes up.

If you wait too long, however, older leaves may become discolored and eventually fall off the plant. If this happens, just remove and discard any leaves that have gone bad and continue harvesting.

After the first harvest, you can come back for more when the leaves have grown to about the size of an adult hand. Depending on your growing zone and the time of year, you can gather new greens every one to two weeks.

How to Harvest Mature Kale

All varieties of this vegetable are harvested in the same way.

For mature plants, grasp the stem of a mature outer leaf at the base of the main stalk and pull down and out, away from the center, until it breaks. Repeat this process to pick all the greens you want.

Make sure to leave at least five central leaves on the plant so it can continue to photosynthesize and produce new growth.

Never pick the innermost portion with the smallest leaves, as that’s where new growth originates.

If your soil is soft or your plants are newly established, you can use a knife or scissors instead of your hands. This prevents you from pulling the whole plant out of the ground or snapping the main stalk.

If you see discolored or heavily insect-eaten leaves, make sure to remove these and discard them, or add them to the compost pile. This allows the plant to put its energy into new and healthy growth.

It’s also a good time to check for slugs, aphids, and other damaging pests.

How to Harvest Baby Kale

If you’re growing baby greens for salads, they will be ready in 25-30 days. The Red Russian variety is often grown for these small leaves.

Remove by using your fingers to pinch off individual leaves at the base of the stem. If you prefer, you can cut the stems with scissors or a knife.

My preferred method is to grab a handful and cut them off one to two inches above the ground, using a knife. This is a quick process that allows the plant to continue growing for future harvests.

When choosing where to cut, consider the growth point. On a kale plant, this is the central portion of the plant where stems converge and new growth emerges.

To allow new growth, cut the stems above the growth point.

To do this, cut just below where the stem connects to the larger leaves. This will leave the smaller ones intact so the plant can continue growing.

Grab Some Greenery

Now that you know how to pick them, go out and get yourself some of these nutritious greens. Their flavor and versatility will reward you for weeks to come.

If you’re looking for ideas on how to use your harvest in the kitchen, consider making a butternut squash and kale pasta salad, or a kale salad with garlic, lemon, and pecorino, also on Foodal.

If you have any questions, please let us know in the comments.

And make sure to check out the following articles for more information:

  • Harvest Hearty Greens From the Garden: How to Grow Kale
  • How to Keep Kale from Wilting in the Garden
  • What Causes Yellowing and Thinning of Kale Leaves?
  • How to Harvest and Store Kale Seeds


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About Briana Yablonski

Briana Yablonski grew up in Eastern Pennsylvania and currently resides in Knoxville, Tennessee. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in plant sciences and has worked on farms in Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Tennessee. Now, she spends many hours planting seeds and moving compost at her market garden. When she’s not immersed in the world of gardening, Briana enjoys walking dogs at the local shelter and riding her bike. She believes that gardening fosters curiosity, continuous learning, and wonder.

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