Kale (//) or leaf cabbage are certain cultivars of cabbage (Brassica oleracea) grown for their edible leaves. A kale plant has green or purple leaves and the central leaves do not form a head (as with headed cabbages). Kales are considered to be closer to wild cabbage than most domesticated forms of Brassica oleracea.
Curly kale, one of the many varieties of kale
|Cultivar group||Acephala Group|
|Origin||Unknown, but before the Middle Ages|
|Cultivar group members||Many; see text.|
Kale originated in the eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor, where it was cultivated for food beginning by 2000 B.C. at the latest. Curly-leaved varieties of cabbage already existed along with flat-leaved varieties in Greece in the fourth century BC. It was also used as medicinal food source. Disocorides wrote that it could be used to treat bowel ailments. These forms, which were referred to by the Romans as Sabellian kale, are considered to be the ancestors of modern kales.
Russian kale was introduced into Canada, and then into the United States, by Russian traders in the 19th century. USDA botanist David Fairchild is credited with introducing kale (and many other crops) to Americans, having brought it back from Croatia, although Fairchild himself disliked cabbages, including kale. At the time, kale was widely grown in Croatia mostly because it was easy to grow and inexpensive, and could desalinate soil. For most of the twentieth century, kale was primarily used in the United States for decorative purposes; it became more popular as an edible vegetable in the 1990s due to its nutritional value.
During World War II, the cultivation of kale (and other vegetables) in the U.K. was encouraged by the Dig for Victory campaign. The vegetable was easy to grow and provided important nutrients missing from a diet because of rationing.
Some varieties can reach a height of six or seven feet, while others are compact, symmetrical and of good quality for eating. Many, however, are coarse and indigestible. Most kales are annuals or biennials. Kale seeds resemble those of cabbage in size, form, and color.
One may differentiate between kale varieties according to the low, intermediate, or high length of the stem, along with the variety of leaf types. The leaf colours range from light green to green, to dark green and violet-green, to violet-brown.
Classification by leaf type:
- Curly-leaf (Scots kale, blue curled kale)
- Bumpy-leaf (black cabbage, better known by its Italian translation 'cavolo nero', and also known as Tuscan Cabbage, Tuscan Kale, lacinato and dinosaur kale)
- Leaf and spear (a cross between curly-leaf and plain-leaf)
Because kale can grow well into winter, one variety of rape kale is called "hungry gap" after the period in winter in traditional agriculture when little else could be harvested. An extra-tall variety is known as Jersey kale or cow cabbage. Kai-lan or Chinese kale is a cultivar often used in Chinese cuisine. In Portugal, the bumpy-leaved kale is mostly called "couve galega" (Galician kale or Portuguese Cabbage), although in some regions other names may be used.
Many varieties of kale and cabbage are grown mainly for ornamental leaves that are brilliant white, red, pink, lavender, blue or violet in the interior of the rosette. The different types of ornamental kale are peacock kale, coral prince, kamone coral queen, color up kale and chidori kale. Ornamental kale is as edible as any other variety, but potentially not as palatable. Kale leaves are increasingly used as an ingredient for vegetable bouquets and wedding bouquets.
Kale is usually an annual plant grown from seed with a wide range of germination temperatures. It is hardy and thrives in wintertime, and can survive in temperatures as low as -15 degrees Celsius. Kale can become sweeter after a heavy frost.
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||207 kJ (49 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||3.6 g|
|Vitamin A equiv.||
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||
|†Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.|
Raw kale is composed of 84% water, 9% carbohydrates, 4% protein, and 1% fat (table). In a 100 gram serving, raw kale provides 49 calories. Like collards, it contains a large amount of vitamin K: several times the Daily Value (DV). It is a rich source (20% or more of the DV) of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, folate, and manganese (see table "Kale, raw"). Kale is a good source (10–19% DV) of thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, vitamin E and several dietary minerals, including iron, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus (see table "Kale, raw").
Boiling raw kale diminishes most of these nutrients, while values for vitamins A, C, and K, and manganese remain substantial (see table "Kale, cooked").
Kale is a source of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin (tables). As with broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, kale contains glucosinolate compounds such as glucoraphanin, which contributes to the formation of sulforaphane, a compound under preliminary research for its potential to affect human health. Boiling kale decreases the level of glucosinate compounds, whereas steaming, microwaving or stir frying does not cause significant loss. Kale contains high levels of polyphenols, such as ferulic acid, with levels varying due to environmental and genetic factors.
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In Brazil, kale is a side dish for a common stew called feijoada.
Various kale types are eaten throughout south-eastern Africa, where they are typically boiled with coconut milk and ground peanuts, and served with rice, or boiled cornmeal.
A whole culture around kale has developed in northern Germany, especially around the towns of Bremen, Oldenburg, Osnabrück and Hannover and the region of Dithmarschen. There, most social clubs of any kind will have a Grünkohlessen or Kohlfahrt ("kale tour") sometime between October and February, visiting a country inn to consume kale stew, pinkel sausage, kassler, and mettwurst. Most communities in the area have a yearly kale festival which includes naming a "kale king" (or queen).
Curly kale is used in Denmark and southwestern Sweden (Scania, Halland and Blekinge) to make (grøn-)langkål (Danish) or långkål (Swedish), an obligatory dish on the julbord in the region, and is commonly served together with the Christmas ham (Sweden). The leaves of the kale are separated from the stem and then boiled with stock. The result is drained and pressed to remove the remaining liquid. The kale can then be frozen for up to 6–8 months. To make langkål, the kale is defrosted, finely chopped then fried with cream, pepper, and syrup (or sugar) for sweetening. In Sweden, it is also commonly eaten as a soup, with a base of ham broth and the addition of onion and pork sausages.
In Montenegro and Croatia, collards and kale, locally known as raštika or raštan, is a favourite vegetable. It is particularly popular in the winter, cooked with smoked mutton (kaštradina) and potatoes.
A variety of kale, called kai-lan or Gai lan, is a common vegetable in China, Taiwan, and Vietnam, where it may be consumed with beef dishes. In Japan and South Korea, kale juice, known in Japan as aojiru (AKA "green juice"), is used as a dietary supplement.
The Kailyard school of Scottish writers, which included J. M. Barrie (creator of Peter Pan), consisted of authors who wrote about traditional rural Scottish life (kailyard = kale field). In Cuthbertson's book Autumn in Kyle and the charm of Cunninghame, he states that Kilmaurs in East Ayrshire was famous for its kale, which was an important foodstuff. A story is told in which a neighbouring village offered to pay a generous price for some kale seeds, an offer too good to turn down. The locals agreed, but a gentle roasting on a shovel over a coal fire ensured that the seeds never germinated.
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|Look up kale in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to |
- Marrow-Stem Kale – Plants for a Future database
- PROTAbase on Brassica oleracea (leaf cabbage)
- Turow, Eve (December 16, 2015). "The Strange Mystery of Who Made Kale Famous...and Why". mindbodygreen. Retrieved March 29, 2017.