How to Clean, Destem and Massage Kale
I received an email request that went something like this:
“What does massaging kale mean? How do you prepare it? I’m so confused…. do you cook it? When I use kale it’s nothing like how it’s prepared in a restaurant.”
So, I made a how-to video about Kale. See below for some instructions on how to work with kale so it tastes its best.
When you buy kale at a grocery store, it typically comes whole in bunches with the tough stems attached. I don’t eat the ends because they are too tough so the best way to remove the leaves is to tear the leaves off from the tough stem. Some people do it with a knife but I think It’s easier to pull them off. The stems are running through the middle so pull from either side. You’re still left with nice big pieces if your making kale chips or for sautéing but in the video, I’m using them for a salad so I’m going to chop them up after.
Once you’ve removed the leaves from the stems, put it in some water to wash it. I usually use a bowl but you could also fill up your sink and do it that way. Swish it around a little and the dirt will fall to the bottom. Take a couple pieces of paper towel and lay them on your board. Shake the excess water out and put them on the paper towel. You can either use a paper towel to blot them dry or you can also use a salad spinner. If you’re going to be sautéing it this step isn’t as important, but if you’re going to be using them for kale chips or salad you definitely want them to be dry so the dressing sticks to the salad or so that they crisp up nicely in the oven.
The best way to chop it up is to put it into a tight ball and run your knife through. You are left with nice little bite size pieces for a salad. You can also rip it up by hand, but I find using a knife easier and quicker. Put the pieces to a bowl and add a little sprinkle of salt. The salt will help release the moisture and help break down the kale.
Now comes time to massage it! You’re going to be squeezing it (now is not the time to be gentle). It can take up to a minute depending on how much kale you are making. You are almost bruising it so that the kale becomes softer. If you have ever had kale salad where the kale wasn’t massaged enough it’s very tough and bitter — this makes it more palatable. You can start to hear the liquid when squeezing it and see a little bit at the bottom of the bowl. The kale will reduce in size, gets softer and becomes darker but brighter than the pre-massaged kale.
I hope this helps answer all your kale questions. Don’t forget to send in your cooking or ingredient questions and we will be sure to make a video.