Hello super kale! This leafy green superfood has received an overwhelming amount of hype in the past few years, and with good cause. Kale, a leafy green or purple brassica plant is chock full of vitamins and minerals. Even better, it’s also packed with delicious flavor. Below is a list of the 10 best kale varieties you can try growing in your own garden.
It’s really no surprise why people love kale so much. It’s full of fiber, vitamins A, K, C, B6, B3, Iron, Calcium, and Copper, and actually makes you feel better after eating it.
The most appealing facts about kale, however, are that it’s easy to grow, and it comes in many different varieties. Kale types have different flavors, textures, colors, and various benefits, depending on how you use them. Some are best eaten raw in salads, others are better braised or baked into chips. Some are even ideal for soups and smoothies.
Varieties listed below are the most popular across the board. They have different uses and growing requirements, but you’re certain to find one (or more) that are ideal for your needs. Read on!
1.Winter Red Kale
Winter Red kale is partly named because it’s an excellent winter garden vegetable. In fact, all kale varieties are great winter vegetables, as so many of them can survive cold temperatures. Some food lovers even claim that kale’s flavor improves after being exposed to a frost.
This variety has smaller-sized leaves, which are flat with wide, well-spaced teeth. Leaves are green in hue with bright red stems and stalks. Its tender texture blends perfectly into salad with a light olive oil-based dressing. It’s best to dress the salad and then leave it to wilt for about half an hour before eating it.
2. Scarlett Kale
You won’t miss this kale variety growing in your garden as the Scarlet Kales leaves have a dark purple colour to them and are quite curled in nature. The firm and crunchy leaves don’t do well when cooked, so raw eating is preferred, mostly in distinguished salads!
Scarlett Kale matures at a slower rate of 60 days but that is to develop the deepest red shade of all the kale varieties as well as to gain a sweeter and lighter taste than their green coloured brothers and sisters. They are resistant to cold temperatures, however, so no need to worry about harm from frost destroying them. Scarlett Kale often benefits when grown beside herbs such as thyme, sage and mint.
3. Tronchuda Kale
This Portuguese variety is easily distinguishable from others by its unique appearance. It has soft, open, circular, bluish-green leaves, and white or light green stems. It does well in both hot and cold climates, and adapts easily. Plants will mature in 55 days.
Tronchuda’s soft, thick leaves make it ideal for juicing. It’s also loved for being one of the easiest kale varieties to germinate. It’s short in stature, but grows to a fairly large, 8-inch diameter. Its shape is reminiscent of its collard cousin, and it tastes like mild cabbage.
4. Abundance Kale
Looking to add a kick to your salad, but not much as to overwhelm your other leafy greens? Try the Abundance kale variety! It’s specifically bred to grow in micro-green size—perfect to use as a hidden (but still delicious) salad herb. You can also blend them into your smoothie for a vitamin boost.
Their small size also makes them a favourite for container gardens, since they don’t take up too much space. As you may have guessed by their name, they can easily regrow multiple times during a season. That’s great for a bountiful harvest from just one plant! This variety is also high in antioxidants such as Quercetin and Kaempferol, which are strong disease-fighting allies.
5. Lacinato Kale
Have you seen any old movies in which elegant ladies fan themselves with ostrich feathers? Well, Lacinato kale’s long, dark grey leaves create a similar elegant effect in your garden (with none of the animal cruelty).
Lacinato’s thick leaves make them exceptionally well suited to boiling and braising. Add these leaves to stews and soups for both flavor and nutrient boosts. This variety originates from Tuscany, and is rare among kale types for thriving well in hot, dry climates. Being of Italian origin, it’s also perfect for adding to minestrone and pesto.
Try it. You’ll thank us.
6. Red Russian Kale
When most people name their favorite kale variety, Red Russian tends to be at the top of the list. It has a red stem, and soft, thin, light green leaves that darken when cooked. Its wide-toothed leaves are great in a massaged salad, while younger leaves are delicious when eaten raw.
Red Russian has the highest amount of vitamins and minerals of any kale variety. It’s incredibly high in calcium (which strengthens bones), vitamin C, and iron. This kale is also highly resistant to diseases and pests that harm most other brassicas.
7. Siberian Kale
Siberian Kale (Brassica napus) is mostly known for its yellow flowers, and the oil produced by its seeds. As the plant is also called “annual rape” or “rape kale”, its oil is most often referred to as rapeseed oil. Rich in omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, the oil is referred to as Canola Oil in North America.
This variety has long, thin stems with an abundance of glossy, small, round leaves that are held firmly on the stem. The leaves’ firmness and rubbery texture can turn certain taste buds off if one attempts to eat them raw. That said, Siberian Kale rule the wok as a braised dish star.
8. Gai Lan
After a long day, what’s better than your favourite stir-fry take-out from the Chinese restaurant down the street? A stir-fry you’ve made from the Gai Lan you’ve picked from your own garden.
Gai Lan, also known as Chinese broccoli or Chinese kale, is most popular in cooked recipes. This variety features a thick, light green stalk which separates into smaller stalks half way up the shoot. Leaves are dark green, and shaped like upside-down teardrops. They’re almost glossy in appearance, and have a strong, almost bitter taste. As such, they’re often served in sweetened sauces.
9.Vates Blue Curled Scotch Kale
When you envision kale, it’ll probably be the Vates Blue Curled Scotch Kale type that comes to mind. This variety has dark, extremely curly blue-green leaves. In fact, this is the curliest kale variety available. The twisty, semi-firm leaves are a perfect and nutrient dense addition to salads.
Or, if you’re a snack fiend, toss them in oil, season them with some garlic powder, and and bake them into delicious, crispy chips that’ll make those foil-bagged spuds jealous. The frilly texture might be too overwhelming for some to eat raw, however, so make sure to chop them finely if you will go in that culinary direction. They grow well in containers and won’t bolt in high temperatures.
10. Walking Stick Kale
Yes, you read that name correctly. Walking Stick Kale is quite noticeable in any garden as it can grow to over 6 feet tall in height if allowed! In fact, it draws its name from the fact that if you dry out its stem, you can use it as a sturdy cane or walking stick. How cool is that? You can grow food and accessories in your garden.
This variety’s straight, sturdy stem opens up at the very top of the plant into multiple—not to mention huge—green leaves. Due to its impressive size, it requires more attention than most other varieties. Water your plants regularly at a rate of about 2 inches per week, and make sure its soil’s PH balance does not go overly acidic.
It’s also important that the overall climate that the plant is growing in stays at a comfortable 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Its leaves, though huge, are still absolutely edible (and delicious). In fact, their large size makes them ideal as gluten-free spring roll or tortilla wrappers. In certain African cuisines, the leaves are also used as edible plates and serving platters.
Are You Craving Kale Yet?
If this vegetable doesn’t make you a leafy green enthusiast, then nothing will. No matter what variety you choose, you’ll still receive all the health benefits associated with this super green leaf. We’re also confident that it’ll taste great in any recipe that you choose to make. Juice it, braise it with bacon, or slow-cook it into a creamy, cheesy dish that’s perfect over pasta. All will be awesome.
Which variety will you choose? The bright, colorful types that thrive in winter gardens? Micro-greens to full your window boxes to overflowing? Or tender Tuscan kale that’s just perfect for Mediterranean dishes? Whichever you decide to grow, we hope that you enjoy the gardening experience, and revel in the produce you harvest.