How to keep kale fresh

Stale Kale! Noooooooo!

Hi folks,

Above is an example of what kale can look like when you don’t take measures to keep it fresh. Very sad.

A reader recently asked me how to keep kale fresh. Here is my time-tested advice.

Bonus tip: this works with other produce as well, like lettuce, celery, carrots, beets, and even items with really short freshness lives like parsley, cilantro and basil.

Your solution is basically just damp paper towels. Instead of putting your produce straight into your refrigerator’s crisper and leaving it, try first wrapping it in a few connected paper towels, and flicking a little bit of water on the bundle to moisten it. Your produce will stay crisper and fresher, longer.

Another aspect to consider – and this is more of a time-saver than a freshness-insurer – is that you can wash all your produce at once and THEN store it, rather than storing it first, and then washing each piece as needed. This will also reduce bruising from the overall time your produce spends getting handled back and forth, as well as reducing wilting, from its abrupt shifts in temperature and humidity environments.


Here is my process:

1. As with any produce, first wash it off in the sink. Make sure you get all the dirt, rocks, caterpillars etc off of it.


2. Once it’s clean but still wet, put it in your empty dish rack, to drip dry a litte.


3. Unspool about 3 paper towels without tearing at the perforations, and wrap your bundle of washed produce leaves or stalks.


4. Put the bundle in your refrigerator’s crisper.

Your produce will last at least twice as long as if you either A. didn’t cover it or, B. didn’t wash it all at once, and you will be much happier in general!

Pro tip for the environmentally-concerned: This works just as well with a dishrag of any sort, instead of wasting paper towels. But if you’re in a hurry and don’t have a lot of clean dishrags on hand, paper towels are definitely the way to go.

If you have any related suggestions, please pass them on! I love to hear useful tips from like-minded people.


25 thoughts on “How to keep kale fresh

  1. Carrie on

    When you wash your kale and then set it put to drip dry, you you roll it up still wet? I usually soak my kale in vinegar water and then rinse it off, let it dry completely and then wrap it up, but it always wilts. Am I doing something wrong?

    • Hi Carrie,

      Definitely roll the kale up while wet. The moisture is what tricks the kale leaves into thinking they’re still part of a growing plant.

      I’m no scientist, but my guess as to why your kale is wilting is the vinegar is having an astringent effect, which is the opposite of what you want.

      So to recap: you don’t want the kale to be sopping wet, but you also don’t want it to be bone dry. You know those misters they have in the supermarket produce section? They’re keeping the produce happy by keeping it cool and moist, which is what you are doing when you wrap it in a moist paper towel and put it in your fridge’s crisper drawer.

      Hope that helps!


      • Another method to keep kale fresh is to freeze the leaves in individual serving Ziploc bags – just make sure each bag contains the proper amount for each smoothie. When stored this way, the kale doesn’t appear to wilt at all. Just make sure to roll all of the air out of the bag before sealing.

        • Hi Joan,

          Thanks so much for the cool tip (pun intended)! This is like the fourth comment I’ve gotten about frozen kale leaves, so clearly it’s something I need to start addressing. Much appreciated!


    • I wash the kale as soon as I get it from the grocery store. Then I wrap and fold each leaf individually neatly into a tupper (once they are dry). Finally, place in the freezer and use frozen in your smoothies. Works perfectly!

      • Hey M6,

        I have been thinking about trying frozen kale lately, but haven’t yet pulled the trigger. I will do that soon, thanks for the tip!


  2. lynette garvey on

    I am pleased about your information about kale. I was going through treatment for breast cancer. Kale has been my main vegetable in my diet. I beleave that kale is a cure for cancer. I have smoothes with a lot of kale in it. capsicum,. the top of the celery only the leaves, yogurt and soya organic only. I also have oilive as well as much as i can in my diet.
    Kind regards from lynette Garvey

  3. lynette garvey on

    I lynette Garvey also have kale in omelettes with carrots, olives, etc and lite cheese sprinked on top of the omelettes. Yummy! Kind regards
    From lynette Garvey.

  4. Nicky on

    I am new to Kale…I have just washed, dried and put into my food processor to mince. It now looks like parsley….my intent is to sprinkle into my foods.
    Can I store in a sealed tight jar and use like parsley? Will it go moldy in the fridge? It is not totally dried in the jar. Maybe I should air dry before refridgerating?

    • Hi Nicky,

      Hmm, that’s a good one. I think you’ve got me stumped. I’ve never used parsley like that, so I can’t speak to kale’s similarity to it, but I will search around and see if I can find an answer for you.

      In the meantime, does anyone else happen to know the answer to Nicky’s question?


    • Hi Kelli,

      Step 1: eliminate sandpaper from the recipe. Don’t know why you’re adding it, but that’s most likely your culprit.

      Seriously, I’m not sure what you’re referring to. If you’d like any smoothie smoother, generally your best bet is to blend it longer. The longer you blend it, the smoother it gets. Let me know if that helps!


  5. Ron Meek on

    I just found the health benefits to eating kale and happen to find you in my Google search. I am using your technic to store the kale and the other leaf vegetables. Thanks!

  6. Jacque on

    I am making Thanksgiving kale dressing (stuffing) for my vegan sister in-law. I have never used kale before, the recipe asked for stale kale. How do I create that, just wash it and leave it on the counter for a day or so?

    • Hi Jacque,

      Yep, if stale kale is what you’re after, simply leaving it out on the counter for a day or so ought to do it. You might even consider hastening the process by putting it near a window, in the sun a bit. I wouldn’t try putting it in the oven, though, because kale cooks surprisingly fast in the oven. If you do that it will become dry and brittle in less than 10 or 15 minutes. I’d say your strategy will work just fine.

      Let me know how it turns out. Thanks for writing!

  7. sandy on

    I had read about freezing Kale and Spinage. I am wondering if when I freeze the Kale do I take the leaves off the stems or use the whole thing when juicing them?
    I am new to using this and juicing or blending.

    • Hi Sandy,

      Freezing kale and spinach is great, just remove the stems before you freeze it. Have a look at my videos to see the kale de-stemming technique I demonstrate.

      If you’re using a juicer to make juice – as opposed to making a smoothie in the blender – you can also remove the stems, if your goal is to decrease bitterness in the final drink.

      Hope that helps, thanks for writing!

    • Hi Kathleen,

      Yes, I would probably de-stem the kale before I froze it. See any of my videos for de-stemming technique. Let me know if you have further questions, and thanks for writing!


      • Yes, Kathleen, definitely remove the stem before freezing, so you don’t have to try to chop it out when it’s frozen. Same reason you peel a banana before you freeze it – good luck getting that peel off when it’s frozen…!

        Thanks for writing,

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