So you just cooked up a big batch of kale and now you are wondering how long it will keep before going bad. Let’s go over a few factors that will help answer the question, how long does cooked kale last?
Varieties of kale
First, let’s go over all of the varieties of kale. If you live in the United States, you are probably familiar with common curly kale. It’s a medium green color and the leaves are, well, curly. But this isn’t the only variety of kale. A few other types of kale are listed below.
- Lacinato kale, dinosaur kale, tuscan kale
- Ornamental kale, salad savoy
- Red russian kale, red kale, ragged jack
- Chinese kale, kailaan, gai lan
- Siberian kale
- Redbor kale
- Baby kale
You can also choose from a variety of leafy greens that are similar to kale such as spinach, collard greens, arugula, Chinese broccoli, mustard greens, bok choy and swiss chard.
Where to buy
You can find kale at your local grocery store or farmer’s market. If you are looking for a unique variety of kale like lacinato kale, for example, you may need to seek out a more specialty store. Try your local Whole Foods, Sprouts, Trader Joe’s, international grocery stores or health foods store.
Kale Nutrition Facts
Kale has a variety of health benefits due to it being so nutrient dense while being very low in calories. Be sure to pair your kale with a source of fat so your body can digest the fat soluble vitamins like vitamin K.
The nutrition information I used to write this section came from cronometer.com using the entry “Kale, Cooked from Fresh” in the NCC database.
One cup of cooked kale contains about 42 calories. This is a very low amount of calories considering how nutrient packed this one small cup is. This amount of calories is comparable to other cooked leafy greens.
One cup of cooked kale contains about 6 grams of carbohydrates and almost 5 grams of fiber. While this is a low carbohydrate food, it’s very high in fiber which is great for your digestion and gut health.
One cup of cooked kale contains just a little over 1 gram of fat. A majority of this fat comes from polyunsaturated sources with just 0.2 grams coming from saturated fat. Since this is a low fat food, I recommend pairing it with a source of fat like olive oil to help aid fat soluble vitamin digestion.
One cup of cooked kale contains almost 4 grams of protein. This isn’t a large amount of protein, but it’s enough to add a little boost to your meal. It’s also important to note that kale is not a complete protein so, this probably goes without being said, don’t use it as your only source of protein.
One cup of cooked kale is a good source of vitamin B2 (riboflavin), folate, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, calcium and magnesium. In fact, this small amount of cooked kale contains over 500% of your daily recommended amount of vitamin K.
How long does cooked kale last?
The shelf life of kale that has been cooked is about 3-4 days when stored properly in the refrigerator. This means it is stored in an airtight container in a refrigerator that is at the recommended temperature.
Raw kale has a longer shelf life than cooked kale. The shelf life of kale that is raw is about a week in the refrigerator and up to 6 months in the freezer when stored properly.
How to clean properly
There are a few different ways you can probably clean your kale. First, you can place your kale in a colander and run it under cold water. Gently rub the leaves to ensure all of the dirt is washed off.
Secondly, you can soak your kale in a tub of ice water and use a slotted spoon to remove all of the leaves. Then, transfer the kale to a salad spinner to dry or gently pat with clean and dry paper towels.
Signs of spoilage
Despite storing your cooked kale properly, it can still spoil before you are ready to eat it. Some signs of spoilage include differences in appearance, smell, texture and, of course, taste.
Bad kale might have an off green color (not bright or vibrant), black spots or discolored patches. You should also avoid slimy kale or kale that smells vinegary or sour.
To avoid food waste, it’s important to store your kale in the proper way. To store raw kale, first make sure there is no excess moisture left over from the cleaning process. You can also use prewashed kale.
Then, transfer your kale leaves to a plastic storage bag or air tight container lined with a layer of paper towels. You can store your kale in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.
Chopped kale should be stored in the same way, but they might not last as long in the refrigerator compared to full kale leaves.
To store cooked kale, transfer to an airtight container within two hours of cooking. Make sure the container is completely sealed.
To freeze your kale, perhaps the best way to extend its shelf life, store in a plastic freezer safe bag and press out any excess air. Lay flat in your freezer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is kale still good for you if you cook it?
Yes, absolutely! Baked, steamed or sautéed kale is still very nutritious. That being said, the cooking process does degrade some vitamins and minerals. For example, raw kale has more vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, manganese and potassium.
That being said, you need to eat about six cups of raw kale to reach the same amount of kale as one cup cooked. This is because the cooking process evaporates a large amount of water and shrinks the kale.
Along with this, cooked kale may be easier to digest and easier to chew compared to raw kale. Plus, cooked kale tastes better, at least in my opinion.
What happens to your body if you eat kale everyday?
It really depends how much kale you are eating. But just like any food on the planet, you can overdo it if you consume large amounts. One concern with regards to kale is with those taking blood pressure medication.
Kale contains a large amount of vitamin K, which plays a role in blood clotting. Therefore, eating large amounts of kale can reduce the effectiveness of blood thinners.
If you are on a blood thinner, speak to your doctor to see if you should reduce the amount of kale you consume. For the most part, you should be keeping your intake of leafy greens steady so your doctor can prescribe the right dosage.
What’s better, spinach or kale?
Both spinach and kale are very nutrient dense foods, neither is “better” than the other. In fact, part of eating a healthy diet is variety, meaning you should try to aim to get more of a variety of foods as opposed to just sticking to one kind of leafy green.
Kale and spinach both have similar amounts of carbohydrates, fats, protein and overall calories. Spinach does have more vitamin K, vitamin A, folate and potassium compared to kale, but it’s also slightly lower in fiber compared to kale.
When choosing between kale and spinach, make a decision based on flavor preferences, cost and seasonality. Ideally, switch between the two and add other leafy greens to your diet as well.
Kale Chips Recipe
Kale chips are not only delicious, but also very easy to make. To start, coat your cleaned and chopped kale in a layer of olive oil, salt, pepper and any other spices you like.
Then, spread out your kale in a single layer on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20-30 minutes or until browned and crispy.
You can serve your kale chips by themselves or with a dip of your choice. They also are great on top of salads (or as your salad base), sprinkled on top of pizza or mixed into a trail mix.