The Cottage Smallholder

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Welcome home Black Tuscany Kale – all is forgiven


Photo: Frosted Black Tuscany Kale

Photo: Frosted Black Tuscany Kale

For years I was not very keen on eating vegetables. Danny adores them but I was generally unimpressed. Until I started growing our own. Home grown organic vegetables have far more flavour than shop bought ones as they are ultra fresh. Vegetables that I’ve avoided for years – such as cabbage and Brussels sprouts – have become firm favourites as they taste completely different straight from the garden. And we are saving money too.

I had a longing for ultra fresh vegetables last night so I pulled on my snow boots and grabbed a large basket. I picked Brussels sprouts, calebrese and shook off the snow to gather a few handfuls of the Black Tuscany kale  – I left the bigger older leaves to support the plants and harvested the medium sized leaves.

You were all right – this type of kale needs to be frosted!

It was delicious – sweet and tasty and the slight bobbly texture after cooking was great too. I was delighted as we have quite a lot of it growing in the garden. Even better we have seeds from last year to plant (Danny banned this from the seed list this year – now he’s insisting that it’s included). This kale is so decorative that I’m planning to interplant some in our herbaceous borders – as they do in Italy.

Kale is packed with vitamins and is considered a super food. If you have the space it is well worth considering as it tastes nothing like the kale available in the shops. You can grow it as a baby salad leaf but I must admit we didn’t like it in a salad as it dominated all the other flavours. Perhaps I was a little heavy handed with it?

The frosted sprouts were good too and needed a much shorter cooking time (3-4 minutes). The snow hadn’t spoilt the calabrese – this has been well worth growing too with a succession of florets from August to date. Today I’m going to investigate the cabbages – all under a thick layer of snow. Fingers crossed that they will be OK too.

We scoffed the veg with steak and kidney pie filling, mashed potatoes and mushrooms braised in red wine. Yummy.

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  1. Ruthdigs

    I’m interested that you said your Calabrese was unaffected by the weather – mine was disticnctly soft, mushy and off smelling, as if the freezing and defrosting had done too much damage to the cell structure and rotting had commenced. 🙁

  2. Your article has given me hope that my Black Tuscan has survived the snow and sub zero temperatures here in France, as I haven’t been to check on it yet. Last year was the first time in 3 attempts that I had got it to grow – I suspect flea beetles and high temperatures did for it the other 2 times.

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Joanna

    I remember you saying that it survived well last winter. We are loving it.

    Hi Petoskystone

    I’m going to try your method if we have a roast on Sunday. Thanks!

    Hi Pamela

    I only like our sprouts! Must try them grated in a stir fry and the kale.

    Hello Stephanie in AR

    Definitely well worth growing! Have just read your about me – really interesting.

    Hi Bib

    Chorizo and kale sounds wonderful. Thank you.

    Hello Helen

    What a shame that it didn’t thrive. Some of ours has done better than others – the plants in the old kitchen garden are tiny.

    Hi Allotment Blogger

    Wow that sounds great. Thanks.

  4. allotment blogger

    Kale is delicious either stir fried or lightly steamed with orange butter (just cream some salted butter with the zest of an orange or three drops of culinary orange oil) but is also very good when used to make bubble and squeak!

  5. Oh how I wanted Kale in the garden! Your post reminds me of a plan unfulfilled. Last year I sowed kale 5 times most of it was the black tuscan variety. None of it got past 10cms in height it failed I don’t know why. Looking out of the window now I can see some kale plants which are a bit straggly and about 20 cms high in all there looks enough to make a meal for two. It’s not black tuscan though it looks a bit frilly and redish to me. I think the seeds must have been part of a salad mix and these are the only plants left standing in my patio salad bed.

    I’m inspired to try it today. Now where are those boots?

  6. I was a bit of a latecomer to kale but after trying Nigella’s suggestion of mixing it with fried chorizo, including all the lovely orange oil, and topping it with a poached egg, I became a convert and am now a lover of all things kale. And Black Tuscany looks so beautiful I think it earns its place in the garden even if you don’t eat it.

  7. Stephanie in AR

    I’ve heard that cold helps kale & sprouts taste better, after this recommendation I’ve added seeds to the list.

    Thank Danny for the visit & his suggestion. The about page is being tackled.

  8. Have you tried Kale in a stir fry? I wasn’t a great fan of sprouts until I had them shredded and stir fried where their more robust flavour is excellent. Perhaps the same will be true for kale. I still don’t love sprouts but will eat them occasionally without flinching.

  9. petoskystone

    roasted brussel sprouts w/olive oil, salt, & pepper!

  10. I have some kale up the garden but I am blowed if I am going to wade through a foot of snow to go and get it. I am hoping it will have survived the -23C we had the other day and hopefully be producing spring greens when the white stuff decides to disappear. Well that’s the plan anyway

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