How to Can Kale

Kale-growing-in-a-garden

Canning kale is one of the best ways to preserve this nutritious leafy green for soups, stews, casseroles, and more. Kale is packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, making it a handy and healthy addition to any pantry. In this article, we’ll explore the step-by-step process of canning kale safely and effectively.

What You’ll Need

Before you begin the canning process, gather the following supplies:

  • Fresh kale
  • Canning jars with lids and rings
  • Pressure canner
  • Jar lifter
  • Canning funnel
  • Large pot
  • Knife
  • Cutting board
  • Salt (optional)

Prepare the Jars & Lids

Follow these steps to prepare the jars for canning:

  • Check the jars for any damage such as cracks, chips, or nicks.
  • Wash the jars and lids in hot, soapy water and rinse well.
  • Sterilize the jars by boiling them for 10 minutes.
  • Bring a pot of water to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and drop lids into the hot water for two to three minutes before using them.

Prepare the Kale

  • Start by thoroughly washing the kale under cold water to remove dirt or debris.
  • Remove any tough stems and discard them.
  • Cut or tear the kale into bite-sized pieces or leave them whole, depending on your preference.

Blanch the Kale

Blanching helps preserve kale’s color, texture, and flavor. Bring a large pot of water to a boil to blanch the kale. Add the kale to the boiling water and cook for 2-3 minutes or until it is slightly wilted. Remove the kale from the boiling water and immediately plunge it into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.

Pack the Jars

Once the kale has been blanched, pack it into the prepared canning jars. Leave about 1 inch of headspace at the top of each jar. If desired, add a pinch of salt to each jar for flavor.

Add Liquid

Next, add boiling water to the jars, covering the kale completely. Leave about 1/2 inch of headspace at the top of each jar. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, damp cloth to remove any residue.

Seal the Jars

Place the lids and bands on the jars and screw the bands on until they are fingertip tight. Do not over tighten the bands, as this can prevent the jars from sealing properly.

Process the Jars

Place the jars in a pressure canner and process them according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The processing time will vary depending on your altitude and the size of the jars. Typically, pint jars are processed for 70 minutes, and quart jars are processed for 90 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure for a dial gauge canner or 11 pounds of pressure for a weighted gauge canner.

Here is the entire process in detail. It is a long list and may seem daunting at first, but it is relatively straightforward if you follow it step by step.

  • Before you start the canning process, check the pressure canner you will be using to ensure the seal is not damaged and in the correct position.
  • Be sure the jars sit in at least 3-3&½ inches of water in the pressure canner. Check the directions for your particular pressure canner for instructions on how much water is needed.
  • If you need to add water to the pressure canner while the jars are sterilizing or filling the canning jars, be sure to add boiling water, not cold water. Adding cold water could damage the jars.
  • Have the burner under the pressure canner on high and put the lid on the pressure canner without the petcock. The petcock is the device that sits atop the pressure valve to control the release of steam from the canner.
  • When steam starts escaping from the steam vent, begin timing and allow the canner to sit with steam escaping for 10 minutes.
  • When the 10 minutes are up, place the petcock on the steam vent set for 10 pounds of pressure and allow the pressure to build. Depending on the type of canner you are using, you will know the pressure is up when the petcock starts to rock or jiggle.
  • Once the pressure is up in the canner, set the timer for 70 minutes for pints or 90 minutes for quarts. The heat may have to be reduced, but do not reduce it so much that the pressure goes down in the canner.
  • If the pressure goes down during the canning process and the petcock stops rocking or jiggling, get the canner back up to 10 pounds of pressure and start the timing process all over again from the beginning. You can’t just continue the time left. There must be 10 pounds of pressure on the food for the entire time straight through.
  • Once the time is up, turn off the heat if using gas or remove the pressure canner from the heat source if using electric and allow it to cool.
  • When the canner has cooled, remove the petcock. Do not remove the petcock as long as steam is escaping. Do not rush the cool-down process by running water over the canner. The cool-down process is part of the entire canning process.
  • After you remove the petcock, please wait 10 minutes before you remove the pressure canner lid.
  • Ten minutes after the petcock has been removed, remove the canner lid.
  • Remove the jars from the canner and place them in a prepared area where they can sit undisturbed for 24 hours.
  • After 24 hours, check the jar lids to be sure there is a good seal, wash and dry the jars, label them, and store them in a cool, dry area until needed.

Cooling and Storing

As the jars cool, you should hear a “ping” sound, indicating that the jars have sealed properly. Allow the jars to cool completely before storing them in a cool, dark place. According to many sources, canned kale can be stored for up to one year. But, the one-year time limit should mean for maximum flavor and condition. According to the USDA, home canned food that has been appropriately prepared and shows no signs of damage has an unlimited shelf life.

Using Canned Kale

Canned kale can be used in a variety of dishes, such as soups, stews, casseroles, and pasta dishes. Drain the kale and add it to your favorite recipes. Or, heat the entire contents of the jar for a delicious vegetable side dish. Canned kale is a convenient and nutritious addition to any pantry.

Safety Tips

  • Always follow safe canning practices to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.
  • Use only fresh, high-quality kale for canning.
  • Do not reuse lids, as they may not seal properly.
  • Store canned kale in a cool, dark place and check the seals before use.

Final Thoughts

Canning kale is a great way to preserve these nutritious leafy greens for long-term storage. By following these simple steps, you can enjoy the flavor and benefits of fresh kale all year round.

Anne James

Anne James has a wealth of experience in a wide array of interests and is an expert in quilting, cooking, gardening, camping, mixing drinks (bartending), and making jelly. Anne has a professional canning business, has been featured in the local newspaper as well as on the Hershey website, and has been her family canner for decades. Anyone growing up in the South knows that there is always a person in the family who has knowledge of the “old ways,” and this is exactly what Anne is. With over 55 years of experience in these endeavors, she brings a level of hands-on knowledge that is hard to surpass. Amazingly, she doesn’t need to reference many resources due to her vast wealth of experience. She IS the source. Anne wants nothing more than to pass on her extensive knowledge to the next generations, whether that be family or anyone visiting her website, her YouTube channel, or survivalfreedom.com.

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