Blackberry Farm

Friends of the Farm

All Hail Kale

In the damp, cold days of February, when the summer garden is a distant memory, one stalwart green soldiers on. Even beneath the snow and ice, the rows of fall-sown kale continue to provide the kitchen with a weatherproof source of deliciousness. Kale has been enjoyed for centuries in the colder parts of Europe, and in Scotland, the term “kail” was a cognate for the word “dinner.” Each house in Scotland had its own kale yard, which thrived in the gray and rainy climate, and with the throngs of Scot settlers arriving in our part of Appalachia in the 18th and 19th centuries, kale became a mountain and valley staple. No east Tennessee Sunday supper at granny’s house would be complete without a lid-rattling pot of pungent greens on the stovetop.

Once simply inhabiting plate real estate between a steak and baked potato, kale seems to be the new darling of the salad set. No wonder, as its health benefits are seemingly unending. A serving of kale is loaded with cancer-deflecting antioxidants and provides 200 percent of each day’s Vitamin C and over 1000 percent of potassium. And its use in the kitchen is virtually endless – braised in a rich stock, oven baked into healthy chips, steamed with hot peppers or simmered for days with a chunk of sidemeat, granny-style. Baby kale, with its crinkled savoyed leaves, hold whatever emulsified dressing or warm bacon fat in all its nooks and crannies. Think of it as green gnocchi.

Whether eaten in a soup with beans and spicy sausage like a Portuguese sailor, holistically sipped in a groovy smoothie, boiled into submission and sopped with a pone of cornbread or grazed raw like a marauding rabbit, say it loud and say it proud…KALE YEAH!!
Jeff Ross, Garden Manager