is a form of cabbage (Brassica oleracea
Acephala Group) in which the central leaves do not form a head. It is considered
to be closer to wild cabbage than most domesticated forms. The species Brassica oleracea
contains a wide array of vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. The
Acephala also includes spring
greens and collard greens, which are
extremely similar genetically.
most important growing areas lie in central and northern Europe and North
America. Kale grows more rarely in tropical areas as it prefers cooler climates.
Kale is the most robust cabbage type - indeed the hardiness of kale is
unmatched by any other vegetable. Kale will also tolerate nearly all soils provided
that drainage is satisfactory. Another advantage is that kale rarely suffers from
pests and diseases of other members of the cabbage family - pigeons, club root and
cabbage root fly (Delia radicum).
the end of the Middle Ages, kale was the
common green vegetable in all of Europe. Curly leaved varieties
of cabbage already existed along with flat leafed varieties in Greece, in the fourth century BC.
These forms, which were referred to by the Romans as Sabellian kale, are considered
to be the ancestors of modern kales. Today, one may differentiate between varieties
according to the low, intermediate or high length of the stem, with varying leaf
types. The leaf colours range from light green through green, dark green and violet-green
to violet-brown. Russian kale was introduced into Canada (and then into
the U.S.) by Russian traders in the 19th century.
can be classified by leaf type:
leaved (Scots kales)
- Rape kale
- Leaf and spear (a
cross between curly leaved and plain leaved kale)
kale can grow well into winter, one variety of Rape kale is called 'Hungry Gap',
named after the period in winter in traditional agriculture when little could
freezes well and actually tastes sweeter and tastier after being exposed to a
kale greens can provide an intense addition to salads, particularly when combined
with other such strongly-flavored ingredients such as dry-roasted peanuts,
tamari-roasted almonds, or red pepper flakes.
traditional Portuguese soup, caldo verde, combines mashed potatoes, sliced cooked
spicy sausage, diced kale, olive oil, and broth. A whole culture around kale has
developed in northwestern Germany around the towns of Bremen and Oldenburg. There,
most social clubs of any kind will have a "Grühnkohlfahrt" ("kale tour") sometime
in January, visiting a country inn to consume large quantities of
kale, sausage and schnapps. Most communities in
the area have a yearly kale festival which includes naming a "kale king."
is rich in iron and vitamin C.
variety called flowering kale is grown mainly for its ornamental leaves,
which are brilliant white or violet on the interior. Most plants sold as "ornamental
cabbage" are in fact kales.
school of Scottish writers, which included J. M. Barrie (author of Peter
Pan), consisted of authors who wrote about traditional rural Scottish
life (kailyard = kale field).
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