Due to my abundant crop of kale, I’ve begun making kale-infused smoothies for breakfast. I always wanted to get into smoothies, but the idea of hauling out the blender and all the cleanup that entailed wasn’t appealing to me. Suddenly, this past weekend I remembered the Magic Bullet set we got for our wedding and pulled that out. I’m pretty much obsessed with that thing now. I’ve literally been blending my iced coffee just because I can.
Yesterday morning as I was blending my smoothie, I was thinking about what I could do to preserve my kale to continue adding it to my smoothies long after the growing season is over. I would never buy kale. Maybe our small-town grocery store is a bad example, but I checked the price last time I was at the store… ouch! I thought for a minute about freezing my kale into kale cubes, but between beef and milk (for the baby) we don’t have much freezer space. As it turns out, the obvious solution was on the shelf right next to me – my dehydrator!
I have also been supplementing our dinner salads with kale, about half and half with lettuce. Dehydrating a bunch of kale allows me to shift my focus to eating more lettuce from the garden, as the clock is ticking before it starts to bolt.
Here’s how I’m turning my bounty of kale into a shelf-stable additive for winter smoothies! I’m using my dehydrator, but if you don’t have a dehydrator I’m sure there are lots of instructions out there on how to use your oven to dehydrate things.
First off, harvest some kale. I have 10 leaves here, which turned out to be a little too much for one load in my dehydrator. 8 would have been perfect (but of course, that also depends on how big your leaves are). I simply put the extra in the fridge for the next batch.
Clean the kale as you normally would… I just tear the leafy part away from the rib. You don’t have to tear it into quite as small of chunks as you would if you were eating it fresh. Wash it and dry it. Here’s my kale, torn up, washed, and ready for a few spins in the salad spinner:
Spread it out on the screens of the dehydrator and start drying.
Mine only took two hours to get fully dehydrated. I like to rotate my trays every once in awhile because the trays at the bottom have the tendency to dry a lot faster than the ones towards the top. In this case, I rotated about every half hour because of the quick drying time.
Once the kale was fully dehydrated, I used my mortar and pestle to gently grind it into a coarse powder. I love this mortar and pestle… my mom got it for me for Christmas last year (thanks mom!). I never thought I needed one until I got one, now I use it at least once a week. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, perhaps try a zip-top bag and a rolling pin, or, if you dehydrate a few batches of kale first, using a food processor might be worthwhile.
I ground up the kale one dehydrator tray at a time. Although there is some variability, my objective was to get the grind roughly the size of store-bought ground pepper. I wanted it small enough that it would blend easily into a smoothie but I didn’t want to completely pulverize it.
In just a few minutes you’ll have a ridiculously unimpressive amount of kale powder!
Luckily, there’s not much hands-on time, it’s just a lot of waiting for the kale to dehydrate, so it won’t take too much effort to fill up my whole pint jar.
To determine how much powder to use, I dehydrated one leaf by itself and measured the amount after it was ground. By using this method, I determined 1/2 tablespoon of powder equals one large kale leaf.
After 6 rounds of dehydrating, I’ve accumulated a pretty sizeable amount of kale powder.
Three or four more runs and I’ll have a full jar! Just keep it tightly sealed in an airtight container. I love these plastic lids you can get for mason jars so you can save the metal lids for actual canning!
Part of me wants to give the powder a try in my morning smoothie… but I’ve got a lot of fresh kale to use up and I don’t want to use my powder before I really need it this winter!