Thursday, November 17, 2011

Green Chips

Kale is an amazing vegetable. It is easy to grow and cold hardy. I plant my kale in the middle of the summer and start harvesting it around mid-October. This plant is a survivor. We have already had temperatures of -6C and it is still going strong. In fact, it will continue to thrive until it gets down to about 15 below, which is way better than me. I tend to fade out around -10C.

Kale also happens to be considered a "super food." It is packed with nutrition and seems to be able to ward off everything from cancer to werewolves. It lowers cholesterol, protects against osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease, and is relatively cheap when purchased at your local grocery store.

There's just one small problem with this otherwise perfect vegetable. It tastes awful. I hate to say it. I plant it in my garden every year, promising myself that I will like it this time around. It reminds me of when I was a kid and told myself every year that this was the Thanksgiving I was going to like pumpkin pie. I wanted to like pumpkin pie. I tried to like pumpkin pie. But it just wasn't meant to be.

So it has been with kale. I have to force myself out the door to cut some to put into our soups and stews. If I was to state its flavour enhancing abilities in mathematical terms I would be using the word subtraction rather than addition. I have the greatest admiration for people who can eat it raw in salads. I consider it a feat of culinary heroics.

Happily all of this was changed this year when I tried something new. Kale chips. Not only do they taste great, they are easy to make.

Go out to the garden and cut some kale. As you can see from the picture the kale is still perfectly good even though it is frozen and has a light dusting of snow covering it.

I use kitchen scissors to cut pieces off from around the stem. I think it's easier than cutting it with a knife. Then I wash the kale pieces and give them a whirl in my salad spinner.

Gather up the ingredients, which shouldn't take long since it is just sea salt and olive oil. I put 3 tbsp. of oil and 3/4 tsp. of salt in the bottom of the bowl. Then I toss in the kale pieces. Now comes the fun part. You have to massage the kale into the salt/oil mix until all of the pieces are covered. You can see in the next picture the change in colour once the kale has been properly massaged. Also note how much it shrunk. Don't be afraid to start out with a heaping bowl of kale!

Put the kale onto the dehydrator trays, leaving a bit of space around the pieces. The kale is poofy, so you want to take out every other rack so there is room for it in the dehydrator. 

Turn the dehydrator to 115 and let dry for about 6 hours. 

Now the challenge is how to keep from eating it all at once!


  1. "A heaping bowl of kale" gave me an involuntary, negative reaction. It makes a great garnish since it's so sturdy. I do eat it when it appears on my plate as a garnish, since it is good for me (same w/olives--yuck). But mostly I've had it boiled down and with a cap-full of vinegar drizzled over it. We treated spinach the same way.

    Thanks to a teenage illness, I found out very young that I have naturally high uric acid levels and am prone to gout. Since there are mixed opinions on whether leafy greens are good or bad with regard to that, I've used it as an excuse to mostly avoid kale (but not spinach). It's so easy to rationalize our way out of things we don't want to do! So I admire you for hanging in there with kale--and especially for finding a way to enjoy it.

  2. I am glad to hear I am not the only one who has never managed to like pumpkin pie!

    Your dehydrator is much much fancier than mine.

  3. I'll have to try the chips in the dehydrator. The ones I made in the oven didn't go over well.

  4. @Ric - I think you are wise to stick with the spinach. :-)

    @kate - My dehydrator is an Excalibur, and it Has been one of my best kitchen investments ever. I highly recommend them if you are into dehydrating. American Thanksgiving looms ahead of me. Yet another chance to try pumpkin pie. :-)

    @Maureen - I tried doing kale chips in the oven and had the same result as you. Total fail. I think it must be the lower temperature of the dehydrator that makes the difference.

  5. yum! I have had kale chips this week and added kale to my homemade chicken soup, both were good. I can't wait to start a garden, you could probably grow it year round here. For kale chips I do 10 min in a 350 oven with olive oil and salt.

  6. @Jennifer - I tried making them in the oven last year and they didn't turn out. You had better luck than me! And you could definitely have kale all winter where you live.

  7. I just read about kale chips this morning on another blog! The guy was raving about them. I'll have to try them sometime.

  8. @Aneta- I think it is kale season! The one, lonely vegetable left in people's gardens. It gets a lot of attention that way! :-)

  9. We used to eat a lot of kale while I was growing up. We never had it soups or as a side veg dish, though. Kale, we were taught, is best when it's been touched by frost. If we had a very mild winter (in the Fraser Valley), my mom would put the kale leaves in the freezer overnight. Then, the kale was chopped up and potatoes peeled and cut. It was all tossed together in a pot of boiling water with some salt, until the potatoes were cooked. Then, it was all mashed together and served with gravy, yellow mustard and slices of smoked farmer sausage on the side. It is a true peasant meal. Yum!! Too bad John doesn't care for it.

    I'm with you on the pumpkin pie, btw. Never could develop a liking for it.

  10. @Ev - I think that is true kale gets sweeter when it has been hit by frost. Sometimes peasant meals are the best!

  11. PS - Do you like sweet potato pie or butternut squash pie? I prefer them to pumpkin, but pumpkin will do in a pinch--it usually has a more overpowering taste versus the other two options.

  12. Mmmmm. Kale was one veg that I really enjoyed growing and eating when I lived in BC in the 1970's. I've never been able to get it right since.

  13. @Ric - I haven't tried either one of those, but if the consistency is similar to a pumpkin pie I don't think I would care for them either. It is the consistency, not the flavour of pumpkin pie that puts me off. Thanks for the suggestions though!

    @Raveller - That is interesting that kale hasn't tasted the same since you lived in BC all those years ago. I can't imagine our kale would be any different than other places, unless it is what one other commenter suggested, that it is better after a heavy frost.

  14. I grow chard, not kale. I like chard, and it tastes better after a frost. I wonder if it makes good chips.

  15. Ohhhh! Okay, well the consistency is similar. Pumpkin pies are usually a little firmer, but that may be because the pumpkin pies are from a store and the other two varieties have been homemade.