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Hi all. Can the stems on kale be cooked and eaten, or are they always really tough and inedible?


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  1. They can be eaten, but they'll always be the toughest part of the plant. Most recipes remove them, though when I'm cooking just for myself, I often don't bother - my tolerance for toughness and chewiness is unusually high, it seems.

    Braising kale for a long time as you would with collard greens leaves the stem tender enough that I'd bet most people would eat it without complaint. It seems to be more common to braise kale for something like 10-15 minutes and remove the stems though.

    1. I recently had pickled kale stems at a restaurant. They were pretty good, so I put that in my mental "try this at home" file.

      1. I recently made a pasta sauce with kale and removed the stem part below the leaf but left the rest of the stem that ran through the leaf. it was fine.

        3 Replies
            1. re: twilight goddess

              I sauteed diced pancetta with some hot pepper flakes then added chopped shallots and garlic. When they were sufficiently sweated I added the chopped kale and cooked until tender to the bite. Then I added some pasta water to make a bit of a sauce; tossed with the al dente pasta and some grated grana padano. It was delicious.

          1. I always eat the stems, I find them to be deliciously crunchy. And I don't bother boiling/braising it, I just add a little water to the pan and do a quick pan steam/saute. If you think it's too much to chew just cut it into tiny pieces.

            1 Reply
            1. re: joonjoon

              Plenty of people would still call that a braise, at least as far greens go.

            2. I always 'do' Kale Brazilian style. That is, fold over the leave, slice out the stem, stack the folded leaves atop each other. Then tightly wrap them into a slender cylinder, much like rolling a cigar, then cutting them chiffonade-style 1/8" thick. In Brazil, there are big baskets of already chiffonaded kale for purchase at markets.

              1. When chopping kale I will chop very fine when I get to the stems but use nearly the entire stem. I cook the leaves and stems together. When chopped fine the stems cook very quickly. The stems have great flavor and texture. They don't come out tough or stringy. Just chop them very thin.

                1. There are so many greens recipes that call for removing the stems and cooking those first, so that one can actually chew them. Mostly for chard, which does have tastier stems, but if the kale is not too tough and old I'll see how they cook. It's not that much trouble, and if they turn up edible why not? Just more stuff to eat!

                  1. I always cook & eat. The only tough ones I've come across are in those supermarket mega-bags of pre-washed greens.