Yellow-sprouting kale

I had a bit of a love affair with kale this winter. I’m so glad I grew so many plants of ‘Nero di Toscana’, dotted among the borders and in the veg patch. It wasn’t just that the plants looked so marvellous in the frosts, but also that the leaves kept me going through the winter months. I cooked piles of them, shredded and wilted in some butter with sauteed garlic and dashes of paprika, cracked black pepper and salt. I ate so many of those thick, rich green-black leaves, and ran into the garden whenever I could to pick more.

We’re coming to the end of the affair now, as the plants are starting to flower, but there’s life in this love yet. Unlike lettuces and other salad crops, when kale bolts, it remains edible. So I’m still picking those leaves and eating as much kale as I can while the hungry gap continues. But one of the best bits about flowers appearing on my kale is that I can eat those too. Think of them as a kind of yellow-sprouting broccoli, and cook accordingly. I made an omlette with some of the sprouting flowerheads the other day, and garnished with a couple of flowers from the rocket plants on the balcony.

I won’t eat all the flowerheads though. On my biggest and juiciest kale plant, I’m leaving them to form seed pods so I can keep this love going for another season.

8 Responses

  1. Blake @ Salt Teak & Fog

    Oh, lovely. I’m also a kale lover, and you’ve just about convinced me to let mine go to flower and then seed. My arugula/rocket has also started to bolt — perhaps I’ll follow your lead and use those flowers too. Very nice.

    Reply
  2. Amy

    The bees love the flowers too. I’m leaving the cabbages that went yucky in the frost to bolt just for the wildlife.

    Reply
    • admin

      Hi Helen,

      Unlike lettuces and other salad crops, when members of the brassica family bolt, they don’t become bitter. Kale is a biennial, which means it flowers in its second year rather than in its first like lettuces. The only thing is that once it starts gearing up to flower, the energy goes into the flowers, and you get smaller leaves, but after a winter in the frost, those leaves are sweet and lovely!

      Hope that helps – and let me know how your first year of kale goes!

      Issy

      Reply
  3. vrtlaricaana

    I am happy to see a very positive feedback on Nero di Toscana. I am growing it this year for the first time, and as soon as I get to the garden, I will sow some more seeds.

    Reply
  4. Geenabeena

    Thank you so much for this simple clarification about the kale cycle. I have lovely plants which started to flower and was unsure what I should do. Unfortunately, I found your page as I was eating my breakfast omelet. Next time I will include the flowers too!

    Reply
  5. Gillian Elizabeth

    I like the idea of yellow kale sproutings. My overwintered mizuna had sprouted and we had a lovely salad today with the sprouts – better than the leaves!

    Reply
    • F&F

      They taste fab, don’t they? My curly kale from this year is just limbering up to flower on the balcony. The problem is, it’s so pretty I can barely bear to pick and eat it.

      Reply

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