It’s been a bountiful year on the homestead for kale production. Cold wet springs lead to greens growing well, and now that the 4th of July is past, the heat has kicked off the growth. I have 3 varieties this year going on our land on Whidbey Island in Washington State. We face the Salish Sea so we have sunny/windy but dry in summer. It’s called the Olympic Rainshadow.
Overall, I don’t eat a lot of it fresh. We grow it for our chickens mostly. They love that stuff.
Chickens are just feral pets you didn’t know you needed in your life.
With the rate of growth this summer though….I harvested a ton the other day. I have a setup down in our gardens, where I have a tent set up that I can work in, in the shade. I stripped the kale of the bottom parts, which is rarely tender. That the chickens got in piles. Which they noshed on.
I washed up a very tightly packed kitchen sink worth. We grow regenerative/organic, and don’t use anything on our plants. Mostly just making sure no bugs came in. I let it air dry a bit, spread out in piles on the counter, on towels.
Then I would grab bundles of leaves, and roughly chop it up. All in told, I had 3 very stuffed gallon bags of kale leaves, cut into wide ribbons.
Pro-tip? Have a paper bag on the floor for ugly parts, to toss it into. Also, hungry chickens to feed it to.
I spread the leaves out on the dehydrator trays. My dehydrator has 6 trays, and they were well stuffed. In the end, I came back and did another 3 trays later, for 9 trays worth. Our dehydrator has been with us for a very long time. It is an older L’equip I found in a cooking store at least 17 years ago. It keeps ticking, so I have no complaints for now. As long as it has a fan, and you can adjust the temperature, then it should work fine. Dehydrators can be very affordable (you can pick up a Nesco for $70, and they are made in the US – and work great).
Fresh on the trays.
I set the dehydrator to the highest setting, on furnace blast. There is no need to be delicate with leaves like this. The temp is around 155*. I flipped the trays every hour to get even drying, as the motor is on the bottom. Bottom tray goes to the top and keep repeating.
5 hours later they were crispy dry. I let them cool down overnight.
In the morning, in a number of batches, I ran the dry leaves in the dry container of our Vitamix blender, until powdered. Most blenders can at least get it chopped up. A cheap method is have a coffee grinder that is only for grinding dry items like this and herbs.
I transferred each batch to a mason jar, to store until needed. A canning funnel makes that task easy.
Out of all the fresh kale, I got about 16 ounces dry powder, well shaken down. I processed it a second time when it was all done, to have a very smooth powder.
How to use?
- Add to instant rice for green rice. A Tablespoon is plenty. Cook the instant rice in broth powder with a packet of olive oil, sprinkle on some parmesan cheese.
- Do you have a smoothie recipe made with dried/freeze-dried fruit? Add in a Tablespoon green powder. You can use this smoothie recipe to add what you want to it.
- Add to pasta sauces you make on the trail, or to mac n’ cheese, for more nutrition.
Add in some vital greens to your diet easily! But do it sparingly, for once it is powdered, it is very concentrated.