Wintertime is a great time to stock up on lots of kale because they are at their lowest prices. These cabbage leaves offer many nutrients and are high in antioxidants that can help keep your body healthy.
It makes a lot of sense to dry and store those bulk loads of kale during winter, so you will have plenty of resources when these food sources are scarce. A good supply of dried kale flakes can also be a handy ingredient to have when you want to quickly whip up all sorts of tasty meals.
In this guide, we will show you how to dehydrate kale so these flakes can be stored for months.
How to Dehydrate Kale
There are three main ways to make healthy, dry kale. These foods can easily be dried in a dehydrator, oven, or air dryer. Before you start drying kale, these foods need to be prepared. Here is a quick look at how to prepare kale for drying.
Step 1 - Pick and Wash
The first step is to pick off a bunch of kale leaves and give them a good wash. Remove any dead leaves or leaves that have been chewed by insects and discard these before rinsing the leaves in cold water.
Once all the leaves have been washed, they need to be dried in a dryer rack or dish rack.
Step 2 - Chop
Once the leaves have dried, you can chop them into functional sizes. Remove the central rib of the raw kale leaves since these can be difficult to dry.
You can chop kale leaves into small flakes or create long, slim slices. Try to be uniform with your cuts.
How to Dry Kale in a Dehydrator
The best and easiest way to dehydrate kale is in a food dehydrator. These handy devices are designed to extract moisture from foods over low temperatures. This slow extraction process is ideal for preserving the nutrients and minerals of fresh kale. Food products dried in dehydrators tend to be more flavor-rich and vibrant in color than other drying methods.
If you have a good-quality dehydrator, you can use the following steps for dehydrating your kale.
Step 1 - Add to the Dehydrator
Add the chopped leaves into the food dehydrator basket or dehydrator tray and turn the dehydrator on medium heat. The leaves should be left for 6-8 hours until they are nice and crispy.
Any limp leaves should be put back into the dehydrator to be completely dried. If the food isn't dried all the way through, it can result in mold growth inside your container.
Step 2 - To Crumble or Not to Crumble
Some people prefer to store the leaves or kale chips whole. If you want to keep the flakes nice and chunky to add texture to food, you can skip this step.
If you prefer smaller pieces, you can place the kale chips into a food processor and crumble or slice these bulky pieces into smaller bits.
Step 3 - Store
After the leaves have been cooled completely, they can be poured into an airtight container. Store these crunchy kale chips in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight until it is time to cook.
How to Dry Kale in an Oven
If you don't have a dehydrator, you can also use your oven to dry the leaves. This method tends to be slower and can consume more energy since ovens are not nearly as energy-efficient as dehydrators. Your kitchen oven also functions at a much higher temperature and can damage nutrients even at its lowest setting.
Here is a quick look at the best steps for drying kale after washing and chopping it.
Step 1 - Place in the Oven
Take the chopped kale pieces and spread them over a large baking tray. Switch your oven to the lowest temperature setting. For most ovens, this is 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
The kale will dry faster in an oven and should be dry within 3-4 hours.
If you want to avoid nutrient damage to your dried food, you can also leave the kale in the oven overnight with just the oven light on.
Step 2 - Check and Store
Check if all the kale leaves have been completely dried. They should be crumbling and easy to crush. Leaves that are still moist can be dried for longer.
Once all leaves have been fully dried, they can be stored in an airtight container. If you feel that the oven-dried kale leaves are still too bulky, you can add them to a food processor and crush them into smaller pieces.
Store your airtight container in a cool area away from direct sunlight so you can keep these delicious foods in good condition.
How to Air Dry Kale
Air drying or sun drying is a great method for preserving kale, but this method is only practical if you live in a warm and dry area, or the kale won't properly dry. You will need a hanging air dehydrator to keep insects out of your food. Here is a quick look at the best steps for drying kale leaf pieces once they have been chopped.
Step 1 - Place in the Dryer
Place the kale leaves in the hanging trays, and arrange all the leaves to have plenty of air circulation to surround the leaf bits. Alternatively, you can dry whole leaves by tying the stems using a butcher's string and hanging them inside the dryer.
The air dryer should then be hung in direct sunlight for 2-3 weeks.
Step 2 - Check and Store
After 2-3 weeks, the kale leaves should be completely dry. You now have the option to break these leaves into chip pieces, grind these leaves into kale powder, or store the whole leaves.
Store your homemade kale chips in an airtight container away from direct sunlight until you need these ingredients for cooking.
Learning how to dehydrate kale is a great way to save money because you can stock up on lots of food while prices are low. These reserves can also ease cooking since a batch of kale chips can be a handy ingredient in many foods like stew and soup.
If you want to learn more about dehydrators or want to find out how to dehydrate other types of food, take a look at some of our other guides. With Healthy Meals Hub, you can get all the best healthy cooking tips.