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Brussels sprouts and kale from the garden


Photo: Brussel sprouts

Photo: Brussel sprouts

Danny adores Brussels sprouts. He’s always buying little packs of them and squirreling them into the fridge. Then I have to eat them. And I don’t like them apart from creamed sprouts which are a bit figure challenging.

So I decided to grow some Bedford Fillbasket this year. Surely they’d be better than the commercially grown ones? They look great too, tall and statuesque. Inca walks between them and disappears in the mini forest.

I plucked the first sprouts a couple of days ago and they were tasty. Much sweeter and crisper than the ones in packs. In fact I even asked for more.

The kale experience was a different story. Having expected these to be good we munched in shocked silence. I harvested two varieties. A pretty curly kale – Frosty – which was fine with a delicate flavour. The offending beast was a dark green bobbly kale (Black Tuscany) -bitter and leathery and reminiscent of eating a handful of old bay leaves. I’d removed the stalks and simmered it for over 10 minutes.

I woke at 4 am and thought of our rows of beautiful kale plants. In Italy these are often grown in herbaceous borders. In the end would ours just be ornamental after all? As we have a lot of Black Tuscany plants to chomp through this winter I fired up the laptop to look for an answer.

I discovered that kale gets sweeter after the first frosts (someone even suggested that putting it in the freezer overnight to simulate this process). Kale also needs to be eaten really fresh as it gets more bitter the older it is. Ours had been picked and cooked within minutes. By 5am I’d seen videos on sautéing kale, making kale chips, incorporating kale into numerous recipes but still wasn’t convinced.

Does anyone out there have suggestions for making kale a bit more palatable? Or is Black Tuscany just a particularly bitter variety.

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  1. Serve apple sauce with it from your hundreds of windfalls. Apple and black kale are a wonderful combination. Also, leave the tough old leaves to support the plant and pick the youngest from the centre.

  2. Fiona
    I don’t know if anybody already suggested this, but kale chips are really nice. Wash and dry, take off stem.Toss in olive oil and any spices you want, place on a cookie sheet in one layer then bake until crispy. Avoid letting it go black on the edges, that just tastes horrific then. I cook nearly everything at 350 Farenheit so that is probably what I did with this but it can possibly handle lower heat. Ready in around 10 minutes. A nice snack or side to a sandwich.

  3. Courtney C.

    I love to make kale soup, and have found that everyone loves it whether they even know what kale is, or despite not liking greens in general. I posted my recipe on a blog that I no longer update, but here is the link should you want to use it. Hope you enjoy!

  4. Try kale in pasta, which is my favorite way to eat it. Start your pasta pot to boil first, and then saute 3 strips of bacon cut up, in a little olive oil. Add a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes. When the bacon is done, add the chopped up kale, a little pasta water, and cover it. Your pot should be about boiling by now. Add salt to your water after it boils (adding before slows the time to come to boil) and throw in angel hair pasta and set the time for 3 minutes. Take the lid off the kale, toss it around with your tongs, and make a little empty spot. Add a little oil and two sliced cloves of garlic. Watch them so they don’t burn. Toss that all up and put the lid back on. When the angel hair is done, pull it out of the pasta water with your tongs and add to the kale. Add a half ladle of the pasta water. Once you get all the pasta in with the kale, toss it all up and plate it. Serve with fresh ground Parmesan cheese. I never get tired of this dish.

  5. I think if you want to eat it as it is, then leaving it until the first frosts would be the answer. Your brussels will be even tastier after a good frost too.

  6. As far as I’m concerned, the best way to deal with kale is to feed it to the chooks!

  7. Fiona, you should try sprouts gently steamed until just done, then sauted in butter till coloured, toss in some breadcrumbs and cook a little more. Delicious!

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