Kale is a leafy green vegetable packed with essential vitamins and minerals. It can give a boost of flavor and nutrition to things like salads, stews, and green smoothies. Here’s How to Wash Kale and store it to keep it fresh and crisp.
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Why we love this
Kale is curly, giving the dirt and grit lots of places to hide. This method will ensure your kale is clean and no little pebbles will make their way into your smoothie or pot of soup.
Having it prepped and on hand makes it super easy to incorporate into your recipes.
What are the different kinds of kale?
- Curly Kale: This is the most common type of kale with ruffled leaves and a slightly bitter taste. It’s often used in salads, stir-fries, and smoothies.
- Lacinato Kale (also known as Tuscan Kale or Dinosaur Kale): Lacinato kale has long, narrow, dark green leaves with a pebbled texture. It has a sweeter and more delicate flavor compared to curly kale. It’s commonly used in soups, stews, and sautés.
- Red Russian Kale: This variety has flat, fringed leaves that are reddish-purple in color. It has a milder taste compared to curly kale. Red Russian kale works well in kale salads, sautés, and as a garnish.
What you need
- bunch of kale – choose your favorite variety! Check out the list above for options.
- salad spinner – this is a useful and essential tool for prepping all kinds of greens including herbs.
- kitchen towels – use a clean kitchen towel or reusable paper towels.
- sealable bag – a reusable produce bag or large Ziploc or an airtight container.
How to Wash Kale
First, start to prepare the fresh kale by tearing the leaves from the kale stems, then tearing them into bite-sized pieces.
You could use a knife and cutting board to chop it all precisely, but who needs more dirty dishes?
Next, add your prepared kale to the colander of the salad spinner and top it up with fresh running water.
Then, give it a good massage with your fingers and really shake through the leaves.
This helps to loosen any grit or dirt that is hiding in those curls.
Next, drain the water and refill it again.
Repeat the massaging process and drain it again. Refill the colander for a third time with fresh water. We like using the triple rinse method and drawing from our experience find that this process should eliminate any residual grit.
Keep repeating the process with water until the water is clear.
Finally, pop the lid on your salad spinner and start spinning the kale dry.
Empty the large bowl a couple of times and spin again. You want to eliminate all of the water droplets so the leaves are as dry as possible.
Excess moisture can cause the kale leaves to wilt or become slimy. Blech.
First, line the large produce bag with the clean dish cloth.
Next, stuff the freshly spun dry kale inside then top it with another clean dishcloth. Again, this keeps the leaves dry and crisp.
Then squeeze as much air out of the bag as you can and seal it. Store it in your refrigerator crisper drawer.
The kale should last up to 3 days in the fridge.
Using a kitchen towel or reusable paper towels for storage is a bit more environmentally conscious alternative to a layer of paper towels as you can wash and reuse them.
If you are using plastic bags, wash out the Ziploc bag too! Reusing everything you can is a good eco-friendly practice.
Even if the kale is labeled as pre-washed, it’s still a good idea to give it a quick rinse before eating. This helps ensure any residual dirt or bacteria is removed.
Vinegar is an ingredient in many homemade, natural cleaners, and there is a reason for it. It is a natural disinfectant. However, for washing organic leafy greens, it isn’t necessary.
Good old H2O and some handwashing action will do the trick.
However, if the kale bunches you buy aren’t organic it is possible they have been sprayed with pesticides. There is acetic acid in vinegar and according to some experts, this could help dissolve those chemicals.
Healthy recipes with kale
**This was originally posted on August 26, 2018, and updated on August 10, 2020, and updated again on June 4, 2023, with recipe notes, writing, and photos.**
If you’ve tried my method How to Wash and Store Kale, please rate the recipe and let me know how it turned out by leaving me a comment below. I’m always interested in feedback!
How to Wash Kale
- 2 bunches kale
- Tear the kale leaves off the stem and then tear them into smaller pieces.
- Add your prepared kale to a colander and top it up with fresh water.
- Give the leaves a good massage with your fingers and really shake through the leaves.
- Drain the water and re-fill it again with water.
- Repeat the massaging process and drain again. Refill the colander for a third time with fresh water. This process should eliminate any residual grit. Keep repeating the process with water until the water is clear.
- Pop the lid on your salad spinner and start spinning the kale dry. Empty the bowl a couple of times to see how much water remains. You want it dry as possible. I usually spin and empty a couple of times.
- Line a large Ziploc or reusable produce bag with a clean dish cloth. Stuff the freshly spun dry kale inside then top it with another clean dish cloth. This helps to draw out any moisture and keeps the greens crisp. The key is to
- Squeeze as most of the air out as possible, seal the bag, and store it in your crisper for up to 3 days.
- to use, open the bag and grab what you need. Be sure to remove the air in the bag before resealing it and putting it back into the refrigerator crisper drawer.