Baby Kale

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Kale is an edible plant commonly used in the United States as a salad or an addition to salads. It’s actually a leaf of fully grown cabbage and when it’s cut of early while the leafs are still small it’s known as baby kale.

The plant is grown throughout the US where ever the climate allows for it and it’s consumption is growing now when there’s more of an interest for vegan diet across the country. It’s also grown in both large farms and smaller gardens by local farmer market owners.

Baby Kale Trivia

  • It was used in ancient Greek and mostly to cure hangovers
  • It’s not supposed to be eaten by those with iron deficiency
  • The production of baby kale has grown 60 percent from 2007.

Baby Kale Buying Guide

The leafs of the kale plant should be firm and deep green. They should also be grown organically and that’s something that needs to be specified by the seller regardless of where you’re buying them. There should also be no small holes on the leaves, if there are you should avoid it.

If the leafs show sign of wilting that means that the plant isn’t fresh anymore and you should also avoid it. The plant should be found in the cooled produce section and if you’re buying it at the farmer’s market, it should be kept in a refrigerator as well.

Baby Kale Production & Farming in Texas

The varieties of kale produced in Texas include:

  • Nagoya
  • Red
  • Peacock
  • Dinosaur or Toscano Red
  • Russian Redbor kale
  • Winterbor kale

Kale is a cool season crop meaning that it’s planted in early spring and late fall. Some also plant it as a boarder plant meaning that it’s used to separate the flowerbeds and other plants from one another in the garden.  The production process is rather simple and it’s mostly about watering the plants in keeping them safe from weeds.

At this point, Texas isn’t amongst the states that produce the most kale. Those are mostly California and Georgia. However, as foody culture becomes more important in Texas the demand for kale will grow and so will the production. This is partly about the fact that it’s now produced in a variety of colors and that, the restaurant and chefs are looking for such features when finding their produce.

The research show that in the last couple of years Texas production of organic kale has grown as much as 100 percent. More complex pest control systems are put in place and that’s showing the difference when it comes to yields and having more than one harvest within a year.

Pesticides

Kale is often included in the list of what’s known as the dirty dozen. That’s a list of plants that’s being seen as healthy and green in terms of production but that are grown with the help of a lot of pesticides. It’s a real concern.

Geography

Baby kales were cultivated in Asia Minor and there are records of it being produced there by 2000 BC. They were brought across Europe by the Romans and there are records of kale being grown throughout the middle ages.

It was introduced into Canada by Russian settlers and from there it came to the US in the 19th century. In the UK the production of kale was encouraged by the government during WW2 because it’s easy and inexpensive to grow.

Packaging

Before the packaging bottom of the bunches is cut of so to make them more uniform and more neat. The boxes in which kale is packed is spritzed with sanitized water and they are packed and tightly closed in such boxes until delivery. The kale is kept cool.

Eating Baby Kales

There are five ways to eat kale:

  • Raw in a salad where you can mix it up with any other vegetable you like
  • It can be boiled and cooked if you want to make the vegetable soft and mooshy.
  • Kale is a great addition to all kinds of soups and it won’t fall apart in one like spinach does.
  • It can be a part of a great pasta and again it won’t lose its texture during the cooking.
  • Kale could be used to make a great dip that will work with any kinds of chips, both healthy and store bought ones.

Storage

Baby kales can easily be stored in a fridge of freezer and all you need to do is to avoid extra moisture to be stuck with them in a bag. Wrap the bunch in a paper towel and store them in supermarket plastic zip bag in the colder drawer of the fridge.

They could be kept this way for about a week without losing any of the quality.

Cooking

Cooking with baby kale is a great way to pack a lot of nutrients within a meal. They should be washed and cut with a sharp knife before cooking. Other than that it depends on the meal you’re preparing. The great quality of the baby kale is that it doesn’t lose its texture and shape as it’s cooked so you want to consider that when cooking.

It’s about creating a texture and a crunchy feel with your topics or with your salads and when they are added in a soup or roasted on a pan, kale is there to balance the flavor of other ingredients.

Nutrients

A single cup of raw kale (about 67 grams or 2.4 ounces) contains (1):  Vitamin A: 206% of the DV (from beta-carotene) Vitamin K: 684% of the DV Vitamin C: 134% of the DV Vitamin B6: 9% of the DV Manganese: 26% of the DV Calcium: 9% of the DV Copper: 10% of the DV Potassium: 9% of the DV Magnesium: 6% of the DV It also contains 3% or more of the DV for vitamin B1 (thiamin), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), iron and phosphorus .

Kale actually contains bile acid sequestrants, which can lower cholesterol levels. This might lead to a reduced risk of heart disease over time.
One study found that drinking kale juice every day for 12 weeks increased HDL (the “good”) cholesterol by 27% and lowered LDL levels by 10%, while also improving antioxidant status.
According to one study, steaming kale dramatically increases the bile acid binding effect.
Steamed kale is actually 43% as potent as cholestyramine, a cholesterol-lowering drug that functions in a similar way.

Kale is one of the world’s best sources of vitamin K, with a single raw cup containing almost 7 times the recommended daily amount.
The form of vitamin K in kale is K1, which is different than vitamin K2. K2 is found in fermented soy foods and certain animal products. It helps prevent heart disease and osteoporosis.

When Are Baby Kale in Season in Texas?

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  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • November
  • December

One of the most salient benefits to eating seasonally is that you are effectively reducing your carbon footprint and supporting a more geographically sustainable food economy. We are rarely encouraged to think about the physical lengths our food travels before arriving on the market shelves. And all of this travel comes with a hefty environmental cost that is concealed from the consumer’s eye. Check other fruit and veg that’s in season in Texas.

Buy Local Farmfresh Baby Kale in Texas Directly from the Producer

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Buy Local Farmers’ Market @ Fall Creek

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Dragon City Farms, Inc.

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Shines Farm Stand