Preserving the Harvest: Lacto-Fermented Kale

Preserving the Harvest: Lacto-Fermented Kale

KaleKale is one of those polarizing veggies that you hear so much about!  You either love it or hate it, most folks have an opinion once they’ve tried kale.  There is a lot to love about kale (even if you can’t stand the flavor, or texture, or whatever!).  Kale is one of the most nutrient dense greens you can grow.  Couple that with it’s cold hardiness, and the fact that it actually gets tastier once it gets hit with a little frost, you’ll be wanting to grow some in your garden too!

Once you’ve got yourself a nice little kale patch you might start to wonder what to do with it all.  Well there’s only so much sautéed greens a guy can eat in a week, and kale chips aren’t really for everybody.  Sitting around waiting for the cabbages to head out gave me inspiration to try something new.  Lacto-Fermented Kale

Day 1
Day 1

is now on the menu!  The leafiness of kale made me think maybe a kim-chi style ferment was in order.  I searched around a little, posted some questions on my favorite forums, and then just went for it!  I went with a pretty basic recipe for the first go round, just to see how I like it:

  • 6 cups kale cut into 1 inch wide strips with stems/ribs in tact
  • 1 cup sliced garlic
  • 1/2 large onion
  • hot peppers to taste
  • sea salt
  • 1/4 cup starter culture (brine from previous ferment or whey)

I combined all the ingredients in a large bowl, mixed it all up and stuffed it down into a 2 liter glass jar with bale top.  I added a little salt water brine to make sure everything was cover and let ‘er rip.  (one note: because of the leafiness of the kale I read there was a tendency for it to get slimy, to counter this I used about 1 1/2 times the amount of salt I normally would.  This seems to be helping so far)  You can adjust the ingredients to what you like, and what you have on hand.  I think some ginger or even horseradish would be good in there too, but I didn’t have any when I whipped this up.

Day 5
Day 5

This batch has been fermenting for about five days at this time, and the results to this point have been pretty good.  The texture is nice (not slimy), and the flavor seems like it is spot on.  The ferment has a ways to go before it gets to the sourness and subtle flavor complexity that I’m looking for, but the spiciness and texture are looking good.  The color isn’t as vibrant as when I started, but I think that is to be expected.

I don’t take a very scientific approach to most of my ferments and I will kind of eyeball a lot of the ingredients or go by taste.  Salt for instance isn’t one that I will not usually measure out, I just sprinkle it on there in layers.  Lacto-fermenting vegetables doesn’t need to be rocket science, more like making a pie.  Just gather up the basic ingredients and go for it.  I will hedge my bets by putting in a little starter culture on my experimental stuff, just to ensure faster results, but it isn’t necessary.  You’ll know right away if your ferment didn’t come out right (it’ll be nasty!), so don’t sweat it!

Resources: Get your Fido Jar here, it’s the perfect fermentation vessel for putting up your kale!  It’s what we use and we love them.
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2 thoughts on “Preserving the Harvest: Lacto-Fermented Kale

  1. I have made traditional kimchi. A friend’s Korean wife has said it is the best kimchi she has ever eaten that was made by someone who is not Korean (I am 5 parts Polish/2-Austrian/1-German). ALL methods I have come across require soaking the cabbage in brine 6-8 hrs. to overnight, or salting in between each leaf. The next day the salt is rinsed off and the vegetable matter drained thoroughly. I did not see that step in your directions. This removes some moisture from the veggie matter, which you countered by adding additional salt and brine.

  2. I did do a quick soak in salt water, of about a half hour or so, but each leaf was thoroughly salted. Good catch, and thanks for the tip. I’ll try a longer soak next time and see how it comes out!

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